Lewis Hamilton said “we should all come off social media”, describing the online platforms as increasingly toxic.
The seven-time world champion, who has more than 30million followers on Instagram and almost eight million on Twitter, made the claim following Red Bull’s Sky boycott at the Mexican Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen and his entire Red Bull team – including Christian Horner – refused to speak to the broadcaster on Sunday, a week after pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz said Hamilton was “robbed” of an eighth world championship at last year’s much-debated season finale in Abu Dhabi.
“Social media is a very toxic place and if you are constantly being like that live on TV then you are making it worse instead of trying to make it better,” said Verstappen when asked about the reasons behind Red Bull’s boycott.
Hamilton, who finished runner-up to Verstappen in Mexico City, added: “Social media is getting more and more toxic as the years go on and we should all come off it, ultimately.
“Mental health is such a prominent thing right now. So many people are reading the comments, the stuff that people say, and it is hurtful.
“Fortunately I don’t read it, but the media platforms need to do more to protect people, particularly young kids and women. At the moment they are not doing that so I think this (online hate) will just continue.”
Hamilton, 37, is a regular user of social media.
In Mexico, he posted a picture celebrating victory over Fernando Alonso at the United States Grand Prix during their fractious season together at McLaren in 2007. He accompanied the photograph with a thumbs-up emoji.
Hamilton’s post, which attracted nearly 300,000 ‘likes’ and 13,000 comments, was in response to Alonso’s claim that Hamilton’s record-equalling seven world championships carried less value because he only had to beat his team-mates.
Commenting on Alonso’s interview, which he gave over the weekend of the Mexican race, Hamilton said: “I don’t have a lot to say about it. It does make me giggle a little bit to be honest.
“I have tried to be really respectful over the years. When I have ever been asked who has been the best driver, I have always tried to give praise to him (Alonso).
“It is definitely interesting to see the comments that are made, but it doesn’t really matter so that is why I just gave the thumbs up.”