Although for both of the Williams drivers and the team this season meant no points, Roberts believes it was a good season for them. Even though Russell out-qualified Latifi in every race, the Williams principal thinks the Canadian progressed in a good manner, despite the unusual challenge posed by the pandemic and disrupted season calendar. Roberts said Latifi did “extremely well” alongside Russell, a Mercedes junior driver who was able to score his only points in the 2020 season while having a one-off race for Mercedes at Sakhir, after Hamilton tested positive for COVID-19.
As Roberts said in an interview for RaceFans: “I think he had a very good season. It’s very easy to forget that it’s not been an easy year coming into the team as a race driver is not easy, particularly when you don’t know what circuit you’re going to go to. We’ve had some new ones to deal with. I think what we saw from George’s outing [at Mercedes] is that George is genuinely very, very good, extremely good. So anyone up against him is going to not always look brilliant on the timesheets, particularly in qualifying where George excels. But when you look at it in that context and you remember how inexperienced Nicky is in these cars then I think he’s done well.”
Roberts believes that the struggles Latifi had in the qualifying sessions were made even more difficult to address by the very uncompetitive state of Williams.
As he said: “He’s got a lot to learn in how to extract that qualifying lap. Obviously, we [didn’t] help him with that, not only in the car’s pace but the consequence of that is you often only get two goes at it on Saturday because you can’t get out of Q1. Once the car’s got the pace to get out of Q1 and you can get more goes at it, you obviously learn much more quickly. So I think we will see improvements within the next year, obviously he’s got a year’s experience under his belt. His race pace has been good, very good. He seems to have a natural affinity for that. So hopefully [the 2021] tyres won’t change requirements too much for that and he can pick up where he’s left off on the on the race pace and just improve the car overall or improve his driving over one lap.”
He added: “But I think as a debut season he’s done very well and that he brings quite a lot to the team. And a good foil for George.”