Red Bull reserve driver Liam Lawson says Max Verstappen must be in a “pretty cool position to win so much that he’s hated for it” after the F1 World Champion issued a statement against online abuse.

Verstappen has established himself as the dominant force of modern F1, winning 50 of the last 75 races and three consecutive World Championships since 2021.

Liam Lawson leaps to Max Verstappen’s defence after online ‘hate’

Alongside his partner Kelly Piquet, the daughter of fellow three-time title winner Nelson, Verstappen took aim at social media trolls last week.

In a post on Instagram, Piquet wrote: “A note from me and a gentle reminder to all.

“The online world can be a wonderful place for various reasons, but a very scary one when wrong information and lies are thrown around.

“I am unsure of the appropriate approach to address hate stemming from falsehoods. I have considered composing a response and letting it stand.

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“For over 3 year [sic] I’ve been navigating a very strange and upsetting wave of accusations, rumours, fabricated situations, fake testimonials, photoshopped screenshots… you name it. All the while staying silent and not playing into these ridiculous claims.

“Accusations made in the past months especially have taken on another level of defamation. Those who know me know that I would never put myself in such positions, say certain things or act in such a way.

“I am far from perfect, but I do take pride in my values, morals and manner. Let that be clear.

“As a human being, the comments and hate affect me and the people around me deeply. I hope this serves as a reminder for people to verify online content before making threats.

“I hope those of you who have contributed to this take a moment to reflect on the real-life consequences of spreading lies and engaging in hate.

“Remember, as James Clear says, ‘Every action we take is a vote for who we want to be’. Let’s choose to be better humans to ourselves and others.”

Verstappen replied to Piquet’s post, adding: “This has to stop. These false accusations by certain individuals on Instagram and TikTok are insane and ridiculous at the same time.

“Hate has no place in this world. We know what’s true within our family and we are very happy together.

“I love you.”

Speaking to talkSPORT, Lawson was asked about the criticism Verstappen receives from fans frustrated by Red Bull’s recent dominance of F1.

And the New Zealander, who participated in five races for the RB (then AlphaTauri) team in F1 2023 as a substitute for the injured Daniel Ricciardo, claimed the Dutchman handles the abuse “very, very well” and has “nothing to worry about.”

He said: “I think he manages it very, very well.

“I think Max is pretty clear that he’s not too fussed about what people think. I think it would be a pretty cool position to be in to win so much that you’re hated for it.

“I think it’s something that he’s not worried about and he has a huge support fan base anyway, outside of the people that maybe don’t like him so much.

“He’s got nothing to worry about.”

Lawson went on to describe how Verstappen attempted to put him at ease ahead of his unexpected debut at last year’s Dutch Grand Prix, where Lawson was called up at short notice after Ricciardo sustained a broken hand in a practice crash at Zandvoort.

He explained: “It was really when I stepped in the car last year, he was there.

“The way the driver rooms work within Red Bull is that they’re all in the same area in the energy station, so Max was right next to my room.

“Before the race in Zandvoort, I was pretty stressed about going in and he just came into my room and was pretty open and said to remember to enjoy it, that it’s a big achievement.

“It’s more that sort of stuff, not so much like driving-related like: ‘Here’s how you go faster.’ It was always more mental stuff.

“He’s a very mentally strong driver, probably one of the strongest if not the strongest.

“He’s not fazed about anything really, so he was somebody that was pretty good to talk to when I stepped into a high-pressure situation.”

Read next: The F1 2024 Drivers’ Championship standings without Max Verstappen

2024-06-17T05:39:27Z dg43tfdfdgfd