Receiving death threats after the Abu Dhabi finale, Jost Capito says Williams “supported” Nicholas Latifi and drummed it into him that he had done nothing wrong.
The Canadian driver faced a barrage of criticism after the 2021 season finale as his late crash was the catalyst for the Safety Car period that ended with Lewis Hamilton losing the World title to Max Verstappen.
Such was the hate and abuse that Latifi even received death threats that forced him to hire extra security.
“You don’t know how serious people are,” the Williams driver said earlier this week.
“All it could take is one drunk fan at an airport, or you bump into someone that’s having a bad day – intoxicated or under the influence of something – and has these really extreme opinions.
“All it takes is that one in a million.”
That his driver even had to deal with that was “completely unacceptable”, says Williams chief Capito.
“What happened to him is completely unacceptable,” the German said, “and it’s difficult to give more than mental support, isn’t it?
“We supported him in the way that he is convinced he didn’t do anything wrong, and that the team doesn’t blame him on any mistake, on any failures or anything.
“He was racing and in racing, some things can happen. If you fight for position, this can happen.”
Latifi took a break from social media in the immediate aftermath, returning later in the month to call out “so-called ‘fans’ of the sport” over the “extreme tone of the hate, abuse and even the death threats I received”.
Capito added: “He took himself out of social media, and we didn’t push him on social media to give him a break from this. You have seen the text he came up with then when he came back.
“And I think that was very helpful, not just for him. It was helpful I think for everybody in the sport or even beyond this sport, and it made him stronger.”
Several drivers spoke out against social media trolls in the wake of Latifi’s message with Canadian revealing that Hamilton and Mercedes sent him messages of support days earlier.
“In terms of support I got, Lewis did send me a message, a few days after, just before I released the statement,” he said. “I won’t go into details of what he said.
“I also got messages of support from other team members at Mercedes as well.”
He added: “Obviously the whole outcry of support on social media from multiple drivers, teams, across so many different disciplines was really nice to see and encouraging.
“Obviously everyone agreed with the whole sentiment and message.”
Latifi had to increase security after death threats
Nicholas Latifi increased his security over the winter break after receiving death threats.