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Nicholas Latifi

Latifi insists Abu Dhabi aftermath did not have an effect on confidence

Nicholas Latifi inadvertently claimed a leading role in the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, when his crash late in the race caused the Safety Car that enabled Max Verstappen to take the title.

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When Nicholas Latifi crashed during the closing stages of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, he played an inadvertent role in deciding that year's championship.

After the Safety Car came out, it enabled Max Verstappen to pit for fresh tyres while Lewis Hamilton stayed out on old rubber. This gave Verstappen the chance to attack him for the one-lap shootout at the end, ultimately sealing the championship.

Latifi recalls the incident in the latest Beyond the Grid podcast, explaining how he was just driving his normal race and attempting to extract the most out of the weekend.

"I was battling with Mick [Schumacher] for a position way out of the points. I think that was one of the strong things that I wanted to hammer home to all the racing fans," he said.

"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."

Latifi was later accused by fans on social media of intentionally crashing and helping Verstappen to win his first title, with the Canadian revealing that he received death threats and had to carry personal security in the weeks after the 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," he explained.

"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."

Latifi: Abu Dhabi aftermath showed the dark side of social media

Both Verstappen and Hamilton have recently spoken up about how social media can be toxic and the impact that it can have on those involved.

Latifi said he had to take social media off his phone in the days following Abu Dhabi, but was still subject to abuse when he returned.

"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," the Canadian said.

"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."

Despite the difficult start to the season, Latifi insists that the abuse from social media has not affected his ability to perform in 2022.

He explained: "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."

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