Following the announcement of Nicholas Latifi being presented as the teammate of George Russell for the 2020 season, questions are already being asked as to what the Canadian racer will bring the British F1 powerhouse – could it be a return to past glory after several years in the doldrums?
Back in June, there was speculation as to where Nicholas Latifi would be heading due to the fact that his father Michael Latifi acquired a ten percent stake in the McLaren Group but his father soon dismissed such ideas. However, what this does mean is that next season father and son will effectively be on rival teams and should Williams close the gap on a rejuvenated McLaren – this could be an interesting dynamic…though I wouldn’t hold my breath.
No racer makes it to the top by themselves and Lewis Hamilton is very open when speaking of the influence his father, Anthony Hamilton, had on his success, so much so that the 6-time F1 champ has a tattoo of a moment of fatherly love he experienced as a young boy. For Nicholas Latifi though, the Canadian racer was not a child racer of success, instead it would be his teenage years before entering motorsport in its purest form – karting.
F1i.com reported back in March the comments of Michael Latifi, father of Williams’ latest starting driver: "Unlike Leclerc, Russell or Albon who started racing go karts at the age of 4 or 5, Nicholas is only in his tenth season of racing…People mention his age but they forget his story. He started karting at 13. He still needs to complete his basic formation and gain experience…He's a hard-worker and dedicated. They're really isn't any rush."
Following the imminent departure of Nico Hulkenberg from the world of F1, in the early stages of a season it may not be a rush, but by midway through 2020 there may be mounting pressure on Nicholas Latifi if performances on track are not delivering what Williams needs or expects. This may also be why Williams has chosen a year contract for Latifi. Although, a year contract is a double edged sword because in the same way that a team may not choose to retain the driver…the driver may also choose to depart the team.
Having been an early leader of the FIA Formula 2 Championship, this was short lived for Latifi as it was not long before Nyck De Vries dominated the season and became an outright worthy victor of the championship. In 2020, De Vries will not be alongside the Canadian but it surely won’t be long before the talented Dutch 24-year-old also claims a place at the pinnacle of motorsport.
Nicholas Latifi may have started late but he is not an overnight sensation. After three seasons competing in Formula 2, this year, he has also completed six free practice sessions in F1. Latifi has found his way to the top and in the cutthroat world that F1 can be at times – it will be up to the 24-year-old Canadian to stay there.
Williams is about to conclude its worst season in history, during a season which featured the 1000th F1 Grand Prix. At the time of the celebrations of this event, many moments showcased Williams’ illustrious history and they will be desperate to get back to challenging at the top.
Robert Kubica may have been the one to earn the British team their solitary point of the season (so far) but the much-loved Polish driver’s replacement will surely also have his own point to prove in 2020.
Welcome to the F1 starting grid Nicholas Latifi and congratulations.