O’Ward joins calls for calm after ugly IndyCar social media discourse

Pato O'Ward

Pato O’Ward

Pato O’Ward has joined the call for cooler heads following a nasty online fallout from the Long Beach IndyCar race.

Callum Ilott claimed on social media that he had received death threats, apparently from Spanish-speaking fans, after he unwittingly played a part in the downfall of his Argentine team-mate, Agustin Canapino, during a typically dramatic 85-lap affair.

While the Juncos Hollinger Racing driver brushed off the barbs which he had received, and playfully responded in Spanish to his critics, he subsequently highlighted that such messages had the potential for serious consequences.

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IndyCar would go on to issue a statement of its own declaring that there is “no place” for “disrespectful and inappropriate online abuse” of drivers, and now O’Ward had joined the chorus.

Notably, the McLaren driver made a point of stating that differences in opinions were “natural”, which would seem to be a reference to his incident with Scott Dixon at Long Beach.

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O’Ward made wheel-to-wheel contact which put the #9 Chip Ganassi Racing entry into the wall when he dived at Dixon on a restart lap.

Dixon hardly hid his frustration in declaring “gloves off” if the Mexican went unpunished, as indeed was the case, while O’Ward said he was “not going to apologise” for the clash.

It would appear that he has also been the subject of blowback over the incident and/or his reaction.

A statement posted on O’Ward’s social media on Monday night (local time) reads, “Having different points of view when it comes to racing, and championships, is completely natural.

“In my opinion, it’s these differences that make this sport so fascinating.

“However: there is a line that should never be crossed. I think it’s important to always speak with the knowledge that your words have power – it’s incredibly disappointing to see people using their words to purposely hurt, disrespect, threaten, and degrade others. It’s absolutely unacceptable.

“We are all human beings and to judge us as anything OTHER than that is absolutely mindblowing to me.

“As if we are not allowed to make mistakes? To drop the ball? To make a bad call?

“In what world are these standards reasonable?

“They aren’t. And they never will be.

“I encourage everyone to choose their words wisely, and to seriously consider the damage they are capable of inflicting before speaking them.”

IndyCar’s earlier statement read, “Over the last 24 hours, some of our drivers have been the target of disrespectful and inappropriate online abuse. There is no place for this behaviour in our sport.

“While fierce competition and rivalry will always be a mainstay of IndyCar racing, it’s important to showcase and celebrate these attributes with ultimate respect and concern for the well-being of our competitors.

“IndyCar is a community that should always strive to build upward with support and appreciation for one another.”

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