Nicholas Latifi has revealed Lewis Hamilton sent a “very positive” message after his involvement in the controversial end to the 2021 season.
Hamilton was heading for his record eighth world title in Abu Dhabi with a 12-second lead over rival Max Verstappen, but a late crash by Latifi changed everything.
The Canadian lost his car at Turn 14 at Yas Marina Circuit with five laps to go, bringing out a safety car that allowed Verstappen to step onto softer tires and close the gap to Hamilton.
However, it looked like the Dutchman would run out of time to move, before race director Michael Masi only allowed the cars in between to proceed, then he called the safety car back before the final lap.
This allowed Verstappen to overtake Hamilton in jaw-dropping scenes, which unfortunately led to disgusting abuse directed at Latifi for his accident.
The Williams driver released a statement nine days after the finale, revealing he had received death threats and hate that “crossed the line into something far more extreme”.
Figures from across the paddock have backed Latifi, and he has since revealed Hamilton is one of them, although the Briton has taken his own break from the public eye.
Speaking to the Beyond the Grid podcast, Latifi said: “I think it was the day of the statement I put out because that day obviously sticks in my mind, it was a very positive thing to TO DO.
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“That statement got a lot of attention from the teams, the fans, everyone in the world of motorsport in general.
“Lewis messaged me and reached out to me. He was sort of detached from the whole world of social media and so on, as well as he obviously had his own world of emotions to deal with this cons what he was fighting.
“But he sent me a very nice message which was entirely supportive, I even had messages from high profile team members at Mercedes who reached out to countless visible messages on social media at from team and driver accounts.
“Anyone who knows the race knows that I did nothing wrong, and what was wrong was the way it was dealt with afterwards and with the FIA report, that’s obviously clear too but again it highlights the world we live in with the incredible fan access to public figures it has a lot of upside but in this case it was a lot of downside .
After the stunning finale, the FIA launched an investigation into the deployment of the safety car, saying race director Masi ‘acted in good faith’ but confirmed there was ‘human error’ in the application of the rules.
Latifi still thinks it’s irrelevant to blame him for crashing while battling for 15th place, saying that’s what a driver is supposed to do, and real fans know that.
“The incident happened when me and Mick [Schumacher] were fighting for points, but that’s really not the point,” he said.
“I think that was one of the highlights that I wanted to impress upon any racing fans or people watching from home, really it doesn’t matter if I’m racing for 19th, 20th, the points or the podium.
“Our car that day was just good enough to run in those positions so if I’m not going to run and try to get every little thing then 80 per cent of the races Williams might as well not show up because we’re not running for points most of the time.
“It’s obviously a very silly attitude to have, but that’s just public perception and I wouldn’t say real motorsport fans, they obviously don’t know anything about racing.
“I made a driver error like everyone does from time to time and provoked the safety car and we know what happened after that with the race result and the disrespect correct procedures
“The sequel wasn’t pretty, I talked about it, I wrote about it and it’s just the bad side of social media, it has nothing to do with sports, in this case it’s sport but anyone in the public eye, artists or movie stars, this case was very publicized with the outcome of what happened.
“It exposed a very unpleasant aspect of social media and what some people think is okay but obviously isn’t. It wasn’t pleasant for a few days but I got over it pretty quickly.
“The season was over, so it wasn’t like I had to be back in the paddock and be bombarded with it. It was maybe two or three days when I took social media off my phone, then I came back to it slowly.
“Clearly it’s never right no matter what’s at stake, especially when in reality I haven’t done anything wrong.”
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