Lando Norris is arguably one of the most popular names in the Formula One paddock, and he has 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 apparently seen an influx of hate as well.
“Whether it’s about my personal life, me and my girlfriend, especially the amount of hate pages dedicated to Luisinha now. It is pretty horrific,” Norris said. “They are on Instagram and Twitter, they are the main ones. It is not an easy thing because if you come from such a different life to Formula One, it is the biggest contrast.
“Having a normal life to all of a sudden having lots of followers, she has to be more careful of what she says and does. In racing, you go through it a bit more slowly and you learn to adapt to it. Between Formula Four to Formula Three and up to Formula Two. Formula One’s a big step but for her, she’d never watched a race before.
“And suddenly being in that limelight is extremely tough for someone to go through and the amount of comments she gets—and I want to protect her.”
The McLaren driver later added, “Not enough gets done. 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 elaborated about the online abuse he’s seen during Thursday’s drivers’ press conference, saying he doesn’t think he’s the only driver receiving the hate. And, he’s not. Nicholas Latifi has also spoken out about death threats he received following the 2021 season finale. His late wreck sparked a controversial ending, which prompted a torrent of abuse being sent his way.
As one of the younger drivers in the paddock, Norris grew up as social media continued to boom. He’s embraced consistently sharing on the platforms, recently adding TikTok to the mix this year.
“Maybe I’ve been more open than a lot of probably other drivers, speaking about it, on certain topics and certain things, especially from the online abuse side of it. Especially because that’s how I’ve grown up. I’ve grown up on these platforms, and Instagram, Twitter, Twitch, whatever,” the McLaren driver said Thursday. “So, it’s just something I love being kind of part of, and I’m very involved in—but of course, me and I’m sure, pretty much every other driver gets a lot of hate and abuse and things like that. And I guess from a mental state of it, it’s never an easy thing to continue to go through. And, there’s just no need for it, whatever.”
He continued, pointing out that the fact the hate is “coming from a person who’s sitting behind their phone, or a computer, whatever it is, I just find it odd that someone’s 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 create memories. They’re trying to bring people down, which I think is a waste of our lives here. A very limited time that we get, so it’s a shame.”
Although the 22-year-old appeared to speak with ease during the press conference, he added that discussing this topic is not easy for him. During an interview with Sports Illustrated in April, he said one question he wished people would ask him is “Why do people hate you?” Despite how difficult the topic is to discuss, he knows he can help impact someone else’s life by bringing these matters to light.
“It’s something that, especially with the comments you get back, and the change that people say I’ve had in their lives and the impact that I’ve had on their lives. No matter if I’m confident or not to talk about it, the impacts you can have overrides any of that. So, if there’s any things that I can ever help on—I’m sure every driver wants to help on—then when you have that chance, and you can potentially save someone’s life. That means more than anything.”
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