Why Latifi was never cut out for Formula 1 – GPblog


Williams announced on Friday morning that Nicholas Latifi will leave the team after 2022. The Canadian has not delivered the performance the team had hoped for, but was Latifi ever fit for a place in Formula 1 at all?

Williams announced on Friday morning that Nicholas Latifi will leave the team after 2022. The Canadian has not delivered the performance the team had hoped for, but was Latifi ever fit for a place in Formula 1 at all?
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After three seasons, Latifi will have to say goodbye to the sport. Williams is no longer satisfied with the Canadian’s results and the team will replace him with a new driver alongside Alexander Albon from 2023. It is not yet known who will take over Latifi’s seat, but Nyck de Vries and Logan Sargeant, among others, have a chance at the seat.
It is no secret that Latifi took a lot of money with him when he signed a contract at Williams in 2020. The team was struggling financially, so a ‘pay driver’ like Latifi was more than welcome. However, in recent years the team has been doing better and better because of a new owner (Dorilton Capital), as well as a slightly better-performing car. Williams now needs a driver who, like Albon, can rack up points here and there. In fact, it was clear from the start of his F1 career that Latifi was not cut out for a place in the sport.
Latifi’s junior career consisted of mediocre results in Formula 3, Formula Renault 3.5 and GP2/Formula2. In F3, Latifi finished fifteenth and tenth, while in the Formula Renault series, too, he did not exceed an 11th and 20th position.
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Latifi then spent years in the GP2/F2 series. In 2014 and 2015, he drove a number of races in the then GP2 series without any exciting results. In 2016, the Canadian competed full-time for the first time, but only finished 16th. In 2017, he took his first victory, but the following year he struggled with his driving style and the setup of the new car. In the 2018 season, Latifi was already beaten by DAMS teammate Alexander Albon, who was offered a contract in F1 for his performance.
With the departure of Albon, George Russell and Lando Norris, F2 lost a number of competitive drivers after 2018. This gave Latifi the chance to finally fight for the F2 title after three seasons. The Canadian managed to win four races in 2019, but in the end, Nyck de Vries was too strong for Latifi. The Dutchman won the championship with a 52-point lead.
After his second place in F2, Williams offered Latifi a contract for the 2020 season, but no one performed as poorly as Latifi in the past three years, however. In his first year in F1, the Canadian lost the qualifying duel against teammate George Russell 16-0. The average difference in qualifying was more than half a second, the biggest gap on the grid. In the race too, Russell finished 10 times ahead of his teammate, while Latifi managed to do so only six times. The 27-year-old driver ended the season with zero points.
Even the following year, Latifi could not match Russell’s talent. He lost the qualifying duel 20-2 and in the race this time he managed to finish higher than Russell only once. Latifi did manage to bring in seven points this year, but that was still meagre against Russell’s 16 points.
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In 2022, Latifi got a new teammate in the form of Albon, although the Thai had already beaten him once in F2. However, it was another chance for the Canadian to prove himself, but even this year it will not work. Latifi has still scored zero points, while Albon has now taken home four. Even Nyck de Vries, who filled in for Albon at the Italian Grand Prix at the last minute, managed to score two points.
Latifi lost the qualifying duel 13-2 in favour of Albon, while in the race he also managed to finish just once ahead of his teammate. Even De Vries managed to beat the Williams driver with minimal preparation in both qualifying and the race. When the duel between Latifi and his teammates is compared to the other duos on the grid, no one performs as poorly compared to his teammate as the Canadian.
His results do show that Latifi was never a remarkably talented driver. A second place in the Formula 2 championship was his best result in the step-up classes, but after four full seasons, it is almost inevitable that a driver will finally get a chance to fight for the title. After three seasons in F1, however, Latifi does not look like he will perform much better in his fourth season. Williams is therefore choosing the right time to say goodbye to the driver.
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