Fernando Alonso's F1 Penalty Sparks Death Threats Against Ex-Driver and Steward Johnny Herbert

Former F1 driver Johnny Herbert received death threats from Fernando Alonso fans after penalizing him at the Australian GP, highlighting the toxic social media environment and the need for platforms to combat online abuse.

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Salman Khan
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Fernando Alonso's F1 Penalty Sparks Death Threats Against Ex-Driver and Steward Johnny Herbert

Fernando Alonso's F1 Penalty Sparks Death Threats Against Ex-Driver and Steward Johnny Herbert

Former Formula 1 driver and current Sky Sports pundit Johnny Herbert has revealed that he received a torrent of death threats on social media following Fernando Alonso's controversial penalty at the Australian Grand Prix last month. Herbert was part of the stewarding panel that handed Alonso a 20-second time penalty for his role in George Russell's crash, despite Alonso's Aston Martin car not making direct contact with the Mercedes.

The decision provoked outrage among Alonso's fans, particularly those from his native Spain. Herbert said he was targeted with a barrage of threatening messages, including warnings that "we know where you live" and "we will come for you." Many of the threats were accompanied by dagger emojis, emphasizing the menacing tone.

"The majority of them were in Spanish," Herbert revealed. "It was a torrent of death threats through social media, saying 'We know where you live; we'll come after you.'"

Herbert believes the backlash was fueled in part by a previous confrontation with Alonso in Bahrain two years ago, when the Spaniard criticized him for comments about Alonso's dissatisfaction with his McLaren engine. Despite vowing to "laugh off" the threats, Herbert called on social media platforms to take stronger action against such abuse.

Why this matters: The incident highlights the increasingly toxic environment on social media, where high-profile figures in sports and other industries are often subjected to threats and harassment. It also underscores the need for social media companies to implement more effective measures to combat online abuse and protect users from harm.

Herbert said the threats continued for two weeks after the Australian Grand Prix incident. He believes Alonso himself would be "embarrassed" by his fans' behavior, stating that those who engage in such abuse are not true F1 fans. Despite the backlash, Herbert remains committed to his role as a steward, viewing it as "part and parcel" of the job. "Social media companies should take action," he said, "but they say they cannot find a way of stopping it."

Key Takeaways

  • Johnny Herbert received death threats after penalizing Fernando Alonso at Australian GP
  • Threats were mainly from Alonso's Spanish fans, including "we know where you live"
  • Backlash was fueled by Herbert's past criticism of Alonso's dissatisfaction with McLaren engine
  • Herbert believes Alonso would be "embarrassed" by fans' behavior, not true F1 fans
  • Herbert calls for social media companies to take stronger action against online abuse