Lando Norris has said he has received death threats on social media and that “not enough gets done” to tackle the issue.
The 22-year-old Brit is one of F1’s most popular drivers with millions of followers on social media and streaming platform Twitch. Last year he spoke about the dark side of fame and the murky undercurrent of “F1 Twitter” which he found himself at the brunt of in his rookie year.
“I get death threats every now and then,” he told The Sun ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix. “Most people do. Not enough gets done and it is tough.
“If I had seen the threats when I started in 2019, it would have had more effect, but now I understand when you have to laugh — not laugh at a death threat — but laugh at the silly comments people come up with and things they try to create to get attention.
“I want to race, travel the world, meet new people and create new experiences — and they are using their one life sat behind a computer in their bedroom looking to try and ruin, annoy and bully someone.”
The McLaren driver added his girlfriend — 22-year-old Portugese model Luisinha Oliveira — has been subject to “horrific” messages after going from a “normal life” to having an influx of followers online.
“The amount of hate pages on social media dedicated to Luisinha now is pretty horrific. Instagram and Twitter are the main ones and it is not an easy thing for her,” he said.
“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,” he said. “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.
“It is difficult for her to be involved in it so quickly. At least in racing, you kind of go through it slowly and learn to adapt to it — from Formula Four, Formula Three, Formula Two and then Formula One.
“But having gone from never watching a Formula One race to suddenly being in that limelight is extremely tough and then to have to read the comments, too. I want to protect her from that.”
Norris, who is seventh in the drivers’ championship behind Lewis Hamilton, added different drivers get treated differently by fans online.
“A lot of the comments are to do with my driving and accusations that different drivers get treated differently. Just because I’m British and driving in a British team, everyone thinks there’s always a bias for that.”
“What I find the funniest in a way is people are actually spending their one life on Earth just sat behind a computer trying to ruin and bully someone. When people are creating fake pages and fake chats, and fake WhatsApp messages, then I am like, ‘You’re actually spending your life doing that?’ They’re wasting their life.”
He adds: “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.”