Ex-F1 driver Johnny Herbert receives ‘torrent of death threats’ after Fernando Alonso call

Herbert was a steward during the Australian Grand Prix last month, when Alonso was penalised following George Russell’s crash late in the race

Kieran Jackson
Formula 1 Correspondent
Tuesday 23 April 2024 13:59 BST
Fernando Alonso insists Mercedes does 'not feel very attractive' for 2025

Johnny Herbert has detailed the “torrent of death threats” he has received on social media in the wake of Fernando Alonso’s penalty at the Australian Grand Prix last month.

Alonso was given a 20-second time penalty after the race in Melbourne for his role in George Russell’s crash on the penultimate lap.

Former F1 driver and ex-Sky F1 pundit Herbert was part of the stewarding panel at Albert Park and has now revealed the abuse received online, as well as explaining a previous run-in with two-time world champion Alonso.

“I was a steward at the Melbourne GP and the repercussions were awful,” he said. “I got a torrent of death threats via social media, I am lucky I have got broad shoulders. I find it pathetic that I was the one thrown under the bus.

“It goes back to Bahrain two years ago. Some years before when he was with McLaren, Alonso had been on the radio slagging off the engine almost every race saying it was like a GP2 engine. He was really vocal. I was working for Sky and said if Alonso didn’t like it, he should leave the team. I didn’t say retire.

"Then he came up to me live on air in Bahrain and had a dig at me saying he was a world champion and would not retire and become a commentator because you were not a world champion. The fans then used that as a weapon against me after Australia.

“There were messages with dagger emojis at the bottom of the screen; people saying we know where you live, we will come for you. Most of them were Spanish. They should have understood because it was so clear how the decision was arrived at in the statement that was put out.

“People were also saying because I had never been a world champion I was not qualified to have a say in it."

Herbert added, in conversation with Fastest Payout Online Casino, that social media companies should “take action” against those who abuse sporting officials online.

Johnny Herbert received death threats after last month’s Australian Grand Prix
Johnny Herbert received death threats after last month’s Australian Grand Prix (Getty Images)

"It has not put me off stewarding,” the 59-year-old said. “It’s all part and parcel of it unfortunately. I was the drivers’ steward in Melbourne so when it is a driving steward, he is the one who gets the hard time. I accept it. It is not an issue.

"The threats lasted for two weeks and still are coming. It is part of the social media world where everyone has an opinion but don’t have the facts to back it up. It happens too much now. Athletes, officials in many sports get bombarded with death threats. And many do suffer a lot because of it. The filth and abuse happens in all walks of life even to ordinary people.

"Those platforms should be on top of it. But they are not. They allow it to happen. I don’t understand why. They should take action. But they say they cannot find a way of stopping it. I don’t believe that.

“I can laugh about it. We are lucky that it doesn’t affect us. But it does hurt many people. When it does happen, action should be taken. Something has to be done about it. But I never hear anything being done.

"The comments about knowing where I lived, the daggers and the threats that they were going to hurt me - I don’t get the mentality of people who do that. They are not true F1 fans and I am sure Fernando would be embarrassed if he knew that his fans were doing that."

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in