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Formula 1

Verstappen sympathises with Latifi after fan backlash

Max Verstappen had some advice for Nicholas Latifi after a social media backlash against the Canadian.

To news overview © Williams

Max Verstappen has sympathised with Nicholas Latifi, after the Williams driver was hit with a deluge of social media backlash in the wake of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Latifi was the catalyst of the Safety Car on Lap 53/58 of the race, as he crashed in the final sector, with the interruption allowing Verstappen to pit for fresh Soft tyres and then attack Lewis Hamilton on the final lap.

Latifi's social media accounts have been inundated with abuse from disgruntled fans ever since.

Verstappen was the main beneficiary of the circumstances triggered by Latifi's crash, with Red Bull team boss Christian Horner later joking that Latifi would be given a lifetime's supply of Red Bull.

"I feel very sorry for Nicholas"

Speaking to media in the days following his title win, Verstappen said that nobody deserved the reaction that Latifi has had.

"I think that's just very unfair. Every driver tries to do their best," Verstappen told select members of the media, including RacingNews365.com.

"I think nobody crashes on purpose or does that. If that's the case [the criticism from fans], I feel very sorry for Nicholas."

No stranger to social media backlash himself, Verstappen gave Latifi some advice, saying: "I think what's important for him then is just to turn off your phone and don't listen to it.

"You're with your family and friends, take a bit of time away from Formula 1 now in these coming weeks and then come back stronger again next year, and do the best you can."

"I can only apologise"

Latifi, speaking to media after the Grand Prix, was clearly shocked by the impact that his crash had on the title outcome.

Explaining the incident, Latifi said he was powerless to stop himself from ruining his own Grand Prix.

"I was battling with Mick [Schumacher] through Turn 9, I was struggling to get past him," Latifi told media, including RacingNews365.com.

"He ran me a bit wide off the road, which is part of the racing but, going off line with my tyres quite dirty, I was really struggling for grip through the next sequence of corners."

A sheepish Latifi then apologised for having such a huge, inadvertent impact on the title outcome.

He added: "I wasn't aware of any of the situation of the race up until then. It's obviously never my intention to inadvertently influence that, but I made a mistake and ruined my own race.

"It was never my intention. I can only apologise. I made a mistake."

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