Lando Norris is arguably one of the most popular names in the Formula One paddock, having amassed millions of followers across 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 has received online abuse and death threats. And he’s not the only one: his girlfriend, Portuguese model Luisinha Oliveira, has also apparently seen a wave of hate.
“Whether it’s about my personal life, me and my girlfriend, especially the number of hate pages dedicated to Luisinha now. It’s pretty horrible,” Norris said. “They are on Instagram and Twitter, they are the main ones. It’s not an easy thing because if you come from such a different life than Formula One, it’s the biggest contrast.
“From having a normal life to suddenly having a lot of followers, she has to be more careful about what she says and does. In racing, you slow down a bit and learn to adapt. Between Formula Four to Formula Three and even Formula Two. Formula One is a big step, but for her, she has never seen a race before.
“And all of a sudden being in that spotlight is extremely difficult for someone and the amount of feedback she gets, and I want to protect her.”
The McLaren driver later added: “Not enough is being done. I report the things I see, but there are so many that I don’t have time to review them all.”
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Norris elaborated on the online abuse he saw during Thursday’s driver news conference, saying he doesn’t think he’s the only driver getting the hate. And he is not. Nicholas Latifi also spoke about the death threats he received after the 2021 season finale. His late-season accident led to a controversial ending, leading to a torrent of abuse coming his way.
As one of the youngest drivers in the paddock, Norris grew up as social media continued to boom. He has consistently embraced sharing across platforms, most recently adding TikTok to the mix this year.
“Maybe I’ve been more open than probably a lot of other drivers, talking about certain topics and certain things, especially from the online abuse side. Especially since that’s how I grew up. I grew up on these platforms and Instagram, Twitter, Twitch, whatever,” the McLaren driver said on Thursday. “So, it’s something that I love to be a part of, and I’m very involved, but of course, me and I’m sure, pretty much every other driver gets a lot of hate and abuse and stuff like that. And I guess from a mindset of that, it’s never an easy thing to keep going. And, there’s just no need for it, at all.”
He continued, noting that the fact that the hate “comes from a person who’s sitting behind their phone, or a computer, whatever, I find it strange that someone is wasting their life doing something like this, you know? They’re not trying to go out and have fun and spend time with their friends and make memories. They are trying to bring people down, which I think is a waste of our lives here. We have very limited time, so it’s a shame.”
Although the 22-year-old seemed to speak with ease during the press conference, he added that talking about this topic is not easy for him. During an interview with Sports Illustrated in April, he said that one question he wanted people to ask him is “Why do people hate you?As difficult as it is to deal with the subject, he knows that he can help impact someone else’s life by bringing these issues to light.
“It’s something that, especially with the feedback you get, and the change that 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 to talk about it or not, the impacts it can have nullify all of that. So if there’s anything you can help with, I’m sure every driver wants to help, then when you have that change, and you can potentially save someone’s life. That means more than anything.”
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