Lando Norris is arguably one of the most popular names in the Formula 1 paddock, and he has amassed millions of followers on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter as well as streaming on Twitch.
But the 22-year-old revealed this week in an interview with The Sun that he had received online abuse and death threats. And he’s not the only one – his girlfriend, Portuguese model Luisinha Oliveira, has apparently also been the victim of an influx of hate.
“Whether it’s my personal life, me and my girlfriend, especially the amount of hate pages dedicated to Luisinha now. It’s pretty awful,” Norris said. “They’re on Instagram and Twitter, that are the main ones. It’s not an easy thing because if you come from such a different life from Formula 1, that’s the biggest contrast.
“Having a normal life to suddenly have a lot of followers, she has to be more careful about what she says and does. In the race, you take it a little slower and you learn to adapt to it. Between Formula 4 to Formula 3 and up to Formula 2. Formula 1 is a big step forward, but for her, she had never watched a race before.
“And suddenly being in the limelight is extremely difficult for someone to go through and the amount of comments they get – and I want to protect them.”
The McLaren driver later added: “We don’t do enough. I report the things I see but, there are so many, I don’t have time to go through them all.
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Norris explained the online abuse he saw at the drivers’ press conference on Thursday, saying he doesn’t think he’s the only driver receiving the hate. And, it is not. Nicholas Latifi also opened up about the death threats he received after the 2021 season finale. His late shipwreck sparked a controversial ending, which resulted in a torrent of abuse being sent to him.
As one of the youngest drivers in the paddock, Norris grew as social media continued to thrive. It has embraced constant sharing across platforms, recently adding TikTok to the mix this year.
“Maybe I’ve been more open than a lot of other drivers probably, talking about it, about certain topics and certain things, especially on the online abuse side. Mostly because that’s how I grew up. I grew up on those platforms, and Instagram, Twitter, Twitch, whatever,” the McLaren driver said on Thursday. “So it’s just something I like to be a part of, and I’m very involved, but of course me and I’m sure just about every other driver gets a lot of hate and abuse and things like that. And I guess from a mental standpoint, it’s never an easy thing to go through. And, there’s just no need for that, either.
He went on to point out that the fact that the hate “comes from a person who’s sitting behind their phone or a computer, whatever, I just find it strange that someone would waste their life doing something like that, you know. ? They’re not trying to go out and have fun and hang out with their friends and make memories. They try to bring people down, which I think is a waste of our lives here. Very limited time we get, so that’s a shame.
Although the 22-year-old seemed to speak fluently during the press conference, he added that discussing the subject was not easy for him. During an interview with Sports Illustrated in April, he said one question he wanted people to ask him is “Why do people hate you?“Despite the difficulty of broaching the subject, he knows he can help make an impact on someone else’s life by bringing these issues to light.
“It’s something that, especially with the feedback you get, and the change people say I’ve had in their lives and the impact I’ve had on their lives. It doesn’t matter if I’m sure or not to talk about it, the impacts you can have outweigh all of that So if there’s anything I can help with – I’m sure every driver wants to help – so when you have that change, and you could potentially save someone’s life. That means more than anything.
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