Nicholas Latifi has been promised a “lifetime’s supply of Red Bull” for the unwitting role he played in the 2021 World Championship title decider.
Christian Horner joked the Canadian driver would never go thirsty after crashing his Williams eight laps from the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The incident brought out the Safety Car while the wreckage of the FW43B was cleared from the Yas Marina circuit, giving Max Verstappen the chance to stop for a fresh set of soft tyres in the hope of challenging race leader Lewis Hamilton.
Verstappen was then gifted that opportunity when the lights were turned green for one last racing lap, and all the lapped cars between he and Hamilton were instructed by Race Control to un-lap themselves – setting up a direct showdown for victory and the championship title.
With Hamilton not stopping to change his old hard tyres as he would have lost track position, Verstappen pounced to snatch the crown from the Briton’s grasp.
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Horner, the Red Bull team principal, told Channel 4: “Thank you Nicholas Latifi for that Safety Car. He’ll be getting a lifetime’s supply of Red Bull, for sure.”
In his own post-race media interviews, the 26-year-old from Montreal naturally said it had not been his desire at all to play such an influential part in the outcome.
“It obviously created an opportunity at the end, but that was obviously not my intention,” said Latifi of his crash.
Explaining how the accident had occurred following a duel with Mick Schumacher’s Haas, he added: “We were side by side, I went off the track – he kind of forced me off but I guess it’s fair racing, nothing too untoward there.
“When I went off, the tyres were really dirty and it was a really tricky area for us to follow. It was absolutely not how I intended to end the season, so apologies to the team for that.”
The upside for Williams was that from some way out this season, they had always looked certain to finish eighth in the Constructors’ Championship – off the bottom of the standings for the first time since 2017.
“Plenty of positives but this definitely leaves a sour taste in the mouth,” added Latifi. “It’s not what I was hoping for at all, so just very disappointed.”
Latifi will be staying for a third season at Williams in 2022 with Alex Albon as his new team-mate, taking over from George Russell who moves to Mercedes.
Planet F1 verdict
Williams finishes F1 season on a low
Williams was still able to secure eighth in standings even after their double DNF.