Nicholas Latifi reflects on ‘very positive’ Lewis Hamilton message after Abu Dhabi

Lewis Hamilton and Nicholas Latifi at a press conference. Baku June 2022. Credit: Alamy
Lewis Hamilton and Nicholas Latifi at a press conference. Baku June 2022. Credit: Alamy

Nicholas Latifi has recalled the “very positive” message he received from Lewis Hamilton following his unwitting role in last season’s title decider.

That was not one of the messages the Canadian driver’s PR team would have instantly deleted, or even reported, after he deleted social media apps from his own phone due to the unedifying reaction to his involvement in the events of Abu Dhabi.

It was Latifi’s crash, during a battle with Mick Schumacher, that triggered the Safety Car period which revived Max Verstappen’s hopes of wresting the Drivers’ World Championship from Hamilton – a chance the Dutchman took full advantage of.

The Williams driver was cast as a villain in the minds of many fans, who clearly felt his crash, which was entirely down to his own error, had altered the course of a thrilling title race – and he even received death threats.

But there was zero toxicity towards him coming from Hamilton, who instead reached out to Latifi in the midst of his own withdrawal from social media at the time – with the seven-time former World Champion saying a couple of months later that his fellow driver had his “full support”.

“It was a very positive thing to do,” the 27-year-old from Montreal, who is approaching the end of his third and final season with Williams having been dropped by the team for 2023, told the Beyond the Grid podcast.

“Lewis did send me a message to reach out to me. He was kind of detaching from the whole world of social media and whatnot himself.

“He obviously had his own emotions to kind of deal with, what he was fighting with. But he did send me a very nice message, fully in support.

“I even had messages from some other top Mercedes team members that reached out, along with countless visible ones from different team accounts, different drivers and whatnot.”

Despite knowing he had done nothing deliberately to affect the destiny of the 2021 championship, Latifi found the backlash difficult to deal with – and had to remove himself from social media in the aftermath last December.

“It was maybe two days when I did take social media off my phone and then I returned to it slowly, reinstalled the apps on my phone,” said Latifi, who has scored points only at the Japanese Grand Prix this season.

“I obviously have PR people that helped me with my social media and whatnot and they have access to it. They said they were trying to clean as much of it as they could, as anyone would have in that situation.

“So I obviously heard a lot from them, and obviously from family members who were still on social media, afterwards and noticed how bad it was.

“I still saw when I returned to social media all the online hate abuse and whatnot. And I think it’s clear that’s never okay. That’s just the ugly side of social media nowadays.”

“It doesn’t really matter what was at stake, especially as in reality I did nothing wrong. If I had purposely crashed, that’s a different story. But I was just doing my own race.”

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