William driver Nicholas Latifi has apologised for his inadvertent role in the furious last few laps of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, that saw Red Bull'z Max Verstappen take the World Championship after being allowed to overtake lapped cars and chase after his rival Lewis Hamilton.
"It was never my intention and I can only apologise for influencing and creating an opportunity. I made a mistake," Latifi was quoted as saying by ESPN.
Latifi said a "driver error" caused his collision with the barriers on Lap 52, which brought out a safety car that ate up racing laps. Initially, cars were not allowed to unlap themselves which was protested by the Red Bull pitwall, but Verstappen was allowed led to overtake on Lap 58, which meant he could pull away from his Mercedes rival and take the Championship.
He added: "We were just really struggling for grip through the next sequence of corners, and especially where I ended up going off. It's been a tricky corner all weekend for me, so dirty tyres, dirty air and I made a mistake...I wasn't aware of the situation of the race up until then. Obviously, it was never my intention to inadvertently influence that, but I made a mistake and ruined my own race."
Mercedes filed two petitions alleging breach of the FIA's racing rules but both were dismissed by stewards post-race. An appeal will be filed, the team has announced.