Nicholas Latifi has earned the admiration of Williams team boss Jost Capito, who says that his attitude and maturity in dealing with the abuse he received after the 2021 season has shown his strength and resilience.
Latifi was overwhelmed with online abuse in the aftermath of the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP, after crashing out late in the race. Having been battling with Haas' Mick Schumacher, he lost control of his car and hit the barriers.
This incident brought out the now-infamous Safety Car which proved decisive in the outcome of the World Championship fight between Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull's Max Verstappen.
With the Safety Car intervention resulting in the title swinging away from Hamilton and towards Verstappen, Latifi was hit with torrents of abuse from unsporting viewers. Withdrawing briefly from social media, Latifi later revealed that he had even received death threats at the height of the vitriol.
Capito describes Latifi abuse as "completely unacceptable"
Speaking at the Williams F1 2022 car launch, Capito explained how Latifi has come through such a turbulent period after dipping away from the spotlight over winter.
"I think what happened to him is completely unacceptable," Capito told media, including RacingNews365.com, when asked how Williams had shown their support to their driver.
"It's difficult to give more than mental support, isn't it? So we supported him in the way that he is convinced he didn't do anything wrong, that the team doesn't blame him for any mistake, on any failures, or anything. He was racing and, in racing, something can happen.
"If you fight for positions, this can happen. And we wanted him to fight and so there was nothing wrong with this. So we gave him this confidence."
Williams helped keep Latifi out of sight on social media
Capito also went on to explain that, alongside Latifi's own decision to withdraw from social media while waiting for the hatred to disperse, Williams also opted against showcasing their driver on their own social media channels until he was ready to re-emerge.
"He took himself out of social media and we didn't push him on social media to give him a break from this," Capito said.
"You have seen the text he came up with when he came back. And I think that was very helpful; not just for him, it was helpful for everybody in the sport or even beyond this.
"It made him stronger, and I think it shows his personality, his values, and they are fully aligned with Williams. So we're working with him together on this, and we fully support him in whatever he would need or would require."
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