Friday, 23 September
Since his Formula 1 debut in 2020, Nicholas Latifi has not been setting the sport alight. He is always languishing at the back of the grid, and his teammates are always quicker and faster than him.
But for the Williams team, Latifi was a must-sign, given that he has the backing of his father’s billions. And a cash-strapped team in F1 needs all the financial support they can get.
Sadly, the only thing going for Latifi is his dad’s money. On-track mistakes are more prevalent than good results, leaving Williams with only one real option going into 2023: reconsider the Canadian’s contract.
Stay up to speed on the latest Formula 1 news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter, ‘The Undercut’
The Williams F1 team has been steadily declining for almost three decades, but things plunged even more in the last five years. Of course, to survive in F1, one needs deep pockets, which is why some teams opt for drivers who come with financial backing. Williams is one such team which had to opt for a pay-driver, and in 2020 it came in the form of Latifi.
The 2020 season was hit hard by Covid-19, yet in his first race, the Austrian GP, Latifi finished a credible 11th after qualifying in the 20th position. This could have been a sign of things to come – Latifi dragging his ailing Williams up the order in races – but it wasn’t.
The results just never came. Only at last year’s Hungarian GP did he score his first points – six for finishing P7 – and at the next race in Belgium, where he finished P9. To date, it’s been his only two points finishes in his 66-race F1 involvement. It includes his reserve driver roles in 2018 and 2019.
Against teammates George Russell (2020-2021) and Alex Albon (2022-present), Latifi is yet to prove his worth. Both drivers have comprehensively outpaced him, and he is showing no improvement. When Albon could not partake in the recent Italian GP due to illness and Nyck de Vries stood in for him, the stand-in driver beat Latifi in the race, coming home in P9. And Latifi? P15.
Williams is fully aware that Latifi is more of a burden than someone the team can rely on. And if they persist with him in 2023, it will prove that money talks far louder than on-track results.
To get The Undercut delivered to your inbox, you must be logged in to your free News24 profile.
Once you’re registered, go to ‘My Newsletters‘ under your profile and search for The Undercut under the Sport category.
Sign up at no cost and browse through a range of News24 newsletters to choose from.
The Sport Report – Weekly
Get the Sport Report every Thursday to stay up to speed with everything you need to know in the world of sport.