Formula 1

Will Nicholas Latifi retain his Williams F1 seat in 2023?

The Canadian driver who is yet to score points this season is rumored to be replaced next year

Nicholas Latifi, who was promoted from reserve driver at Williams to full time driver in 2020 after a pretty decent F2 season that year. But, of course his father’s title sponsorship offer to Williams via Sofina Foods in 2020 was the major reason for him holding a seat in the team. He had previous experience of a Formula 1 car when he tested for Mclaren, Renault and Racing Point from 2014 to 2019. However, even after 2 years with the team, he is yet to set his mark in the F1 world.

His debut season was unappealing owing to his results, where he failed to score a single point in the entire year. His second year with the team in 2021 too remained vastly uneventful, remaining among the back-markers in every race, apart from his first F1 points at the Hungarian GP. The current 2022 season has found him to be uncompetitive yet again, with no specifically visible improvements yet, and he is still to score points in the upcoming 9 races. His most notable achievement has been topping the charts in FP3 at Budapest.

It is also important to note that all this while, Latifi has been consistently outperformed by his teammates, George Russell for the 2020 and 2021 season and Alex Albon for the 2022 season who was gone from F1 for one year. In both 2020 and 2021, George Russell outqualified and finished better than Latifi in nearly all races and was the only one to furnish points for Williams. Last year, Russell was also able to push his car to Q1, a massive feat which ultimately rewarded him with the Mercedes seat for the 2022 season, where he has finished in the top 5 in the majority of the races. Latifi’s current teammate, Alex Albon too has outqualified as well as outpaced him during races on multiple occasions this year. Latifi on the other hand still seems to be struggling with the build of his car or juicing out the potential of his car assuming both the teammates have had similar builds. A ray of hope appeared when he out-qualified Albon even tough his car didn’t get the upgrades at Silverstone but nothing much has happened since!

Apart from exceedingly poor race results, Latifi is also notoriously known for crashing his car very often, leaving his team to deal with heavy losses throughout the year. His engineers also have to go through sleepless nights during weekends as he bins his car quite often, that too in the Friday and Saturday sessions. He is particularly detested by certain fans for his ill-timed crash at the season finale at Abu Dhabi last year. A controversial decision by then race director, Michael Masi, influenced and changed the potential outcome of the race, which saw Max Verstappen win the race as well as lift the driver’s trophy. The result would have been different had Latifi not crashed his car with just few laps to go. In the 2022 season also he crashed out multiple times at the Saudi GP and was involved in few other incidents as well.

Speaking to in a recent interview, Latifi admitted to his performance deficit this year, blaming the chassis build which was not to his suiting until the British GP. He recalled that he was especially dejected at his performance at his home GP at Montreal, as he could not explain the lack of pace. With a new chassis at Silverstone, his pace pace saw a big boost as he climbed to Q3 for the first time in his F1 career. In the races following Siverstone, he had relatively better results with a big change, only for the better. Discussing about his future in Formula 1, he implored that the last 4 races before the summer break be considered and judgement be passed upon the performance of the races in which he felt comfortable with the car.

He did not seem much concerned by the driver’s market, although admitted that the pressure was massive and he is pushing himself all the time to prove his worth for the seat contention for next year. However, rumors say the Canadian will be replaced but there is no confirmed choice as of now. Oscar Piastri was a perfect find for the Williams team, but he is currently eyeing to replace Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren. As of now the grove-based team is still assessing its available options for a driver to accompany Albon, who recently struck a multi-year deal.

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Abhishek S.

Loves long drives, sunsets and skylines (pun intended ;)). Will miss a date but not an F1 race!

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