Williams F1 team principal Jost Capito claims that the fallout from last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has had a negative impact on Nicholas Latifi’s performances this year.
Latifi had an indirect impact on the outcome of the 2021 Drivers’ Championships with the Canadian racer crashing into the barrier while battling with Mick Schumacher late in the race.
The crash necessitated a safety car period, which played into the hands of Red Bull and Max Verstappen who were able to box for a set of soft tyres, a decision which ultimately handed the Dutchman his first world championship, albeit in controversial circumstances.
In the aftermath of the incident, Latifi was unjustly blamed for the outcome of the race with the Williams driver even subjected to death threats, something his team boss has claimed took a mental toll on him heading into this year.
“We had to continue to restore his confidence,” Capito said on the High Performance podcast.
“We told him there was nothing wrong. It was very difficult because it was the end of the season. Everyone goes on vacation.
“He wasn’t here every day and we didn’t interfere too much but we knew what was going on.
“We knew he had strayed from his social media, but if we had interfered too much I think we would have made the situation worse.”
Capito claims the accident affected Latifi’s performance in 2022
The Williams team principal stated that the incident has definitely affected Latifi’s performances this year with the Canadian being outperformed by Alex Albon and more recently by substitute driver Nyck De Vries.
“I think it was extremely difficult for him, I think it would have been difficult for anyone,” Capito continued.
“Until we’ve been through this, we have no idea what it’s like to feel in this situation. I think that’s also partly why it’s taken him a while this season to find his competitiveness.”
“I’m sure it affected his driving after that. It would have affected my own driving a lot, I’m absolutely convinced of that.”