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F1 legend reveals 'FLOOD' of death threats after controversial decision

F1 legend reveals 'FLOOD' of death threats after controversial decision

F1 legend reveals 'FLOOD' of death threats after controversial decision

F1 legend reveals 'FLOOD' of death threats after controversial decision

Formula 1 legend Johnny Herbert has opened up on the level of abuse he received from fans during the Australian Grand Prix.

Herbert, who raced in F1 from 1989 to 2000 with the likes of Lotus, Sauber and Benetton, had been a pundit on Sky Sports from 2012, until it was announced in 2023 that he would not return to the team.

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During the third race of the 2024 season in Melbourne, the 59-year-old acted as a steward over the weekend – and landed himself in huge backlash after the last lap incident with Fernando Alonso.

On the final lap of the race, George Russell was fighting the Spaniard for sixth when the Mercedes driver spun and hit the wall, with his wrecked car landing almost sideways in the middle of the track.

George Russell crashed on the final lap in Australia
Fernando Alonso received a 20-second penalty for the incident

Herbert opens up on 'death threats' from fans

Alonso held on to sixth as the race ended under the safety car, but commentator Martin Brundle said that Mercedes could argue that Russell was ‘brake-tested’.

Sure enough, Alonso was hit with a 20-second penalty after the race, demoting him to eighth place, with Herbert effectively having a huge part to play in that decision.

Following this, the Brit was scolded on social media and speaking with Formule1.nl, Herbert opened up on the abuse he got after fans held him responsible for Alonso’s punishment.

“I was a steward at the Melbourne GP and the consequences were terrible,” he explained. “I received a flood of death threats. Fortunately I have thick skin, but I think it's a shame that I'm being thrown under the bus like this.”

Fans even suggested that Herbert was targeting Alonso after there was speculation of a feud between the two.

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Johnny Herbert got death threats over the decision

“When he [Alonso] was still driving for McLaren, he was often complaining about the on-board radio,” Herbert said.

“I told Sky Sports at the time that if he didn't like it, he should leave the team. Then he came to me live afterwards to put me in my place. The 'fans' in Australia have used that as a weapon.”

Despite this backlash, it seems to not have deterred Herbert from acting as a steward again, but he wants to draw attention to online abuse.

“It happens too often now,” he concluded. “Athletes and referees are bombarded with death threats. Social media platforms should be on top of this, but they are not.”

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Related

Mercedes George Russell Fernando Alonso Australian Grand Prix Sauber Sky Sports
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