Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz is disappointed but not surprised by the abuse and death threats that Williams’ Nicholas Latifi has received since his title-influencing accident at the season-ending 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Latifi put his car in the wall with five laps of the race remaining, bringing out the Safety Car.
Up until that point, Sir Lewis Hamilton had been leading title rival Max Verstappen by a comfortable margin.
The Safety Car then backed the pack up, and race director Michael Masi made a strange decision to allow only the five lapped cars between the leaders through – this would allow the Dutchman to pass Hamilton for the title on the final lap of the 2021 F1 season.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner jovially suggested that Latifi would receive a lifetime’s supply of Red Bull energy drinks for his role in the title, but sadly for the Canadian not everyone’s comments were quite so endearing.
Latifi later received abuse and death threats online from Mercedes and Hamilton supporters.
Addressing this, Latifi said in a statement: “The ensuing hate, abuse and threats [after my crash] were not a surprise to me as it’s just the stark reality of the world we live in right now.”
Sainz has weighed in on the subject, and the abuse has come as no surprise to the Spaniard.
“It’s the bad reality that sometimes we live in social media. Sometimes I don’t get involved because there is so much polarisation,” Sainz said.
Sainz is also concerned by how easy it is to slip through the gaps and abuse people anonymously with little-to-no consequences.
“The fact that you don’t have to reveal your identity, gives you an uncontrolled power and that worries me. Especially with young people who are not mature enough to control the anger that comes from there.”
The 26-year-old reckons that the social media blackout during the Portuguese Grand Prix in 2021 helped matters, but insists that more needs to be done to eradicate online hate.
“We see how someone can be so fanatical in a bad way. The drivers have already done a weekend without social media so the platforms can help us, hopefully in the future there will be more control with these people, I don’t like to see it, I don’t understand it and we just feel inhibited by it.”
Eleven drivers joined the blackout in April, jointly with the football world in a bid to combat online abuse.