Latifi says Abu Dhabi backlash did not hamper his 2022 performance

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Nicholas Latifi describes the backlash he received after his 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix crash, but says he “got over it pretty quickly”.

Williams team boss Jost Capito had recently suggested that Nicholas Latifi’s poor performance in 2022 was a result of the social media abuse he received following his crash at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The infamous crash started a chain of events which ultimately led to Lewis Hamilton unjustly losing the 2021 title fight to Max Verstappen.

During his appearance on F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast, Latifi explained the events of Abu Dhabi.

“I was battling with Mick [Schumacher] for a position way out of the points,” the Canadian said.

“I think that was one of the strong things that I wanted to hammer home to all the racing fans.

“In reality, it doesn’t matter if I’m racing for P20, P19, points or the podium. On that day, our car was only good enough to be racing in those positions.

“If I’m not going to be racing and trying to get every little thing, Williams might as well not show up to the races. So that’s obviously a silly attitude to have, but that’s just the perception of the public.”

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Then Latifi described the aftermath of that race.

“The aftermath was definitely not a nice one. That’s just the ugly side of of social media nowadays. I don’t think it has anything really to do with sports.

“It was obviously a very high-profile incident because of the outcome of what ended up happening.

“It wasn’t just a race at the beginning of the year, it was something at the end of the year with the championship battle.

“Tonnes of tensions and emotions for the fans because it was a very exciting season.”

The Canadian explained he then took a break from social media because of the backlash from certain Formula 1 fans.

“It was maybe two or three days where I did take social media off my phone, and then I kind of returned to it slowly, I reinstalled the apps on my phone.

“I obviously have PR people that help me with my social media and whatnot, and they have access to it. So I’m sure they were trying to clean as much of it as they could, as anyone would have in that situation.

“I heard a lot from them, and obviously from family members who were still on social media afterwards.

“I’ve noticed how bad it was. I still saw when I returned to social media all the online hate, abuse and whatnot.”

However, Latifi says that this backlash did not influence his performance in 2022.

“I got over it pretty quickly, and it might have helped that the winter break followed immediately. There was other aspects to this year that had a knock-on effect on my confidence.

“I had some other incidents at the beginning of the year, that doesn’t help when you’re trying to build momentum.

“But I wasn’t really carrying anything else from Abu Dhabi from the previous year,” the Canadian concluded.

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