Formula 1 has become an ultra-technical world where confidence holds the key to extracting performance on-track.
Nicholas Latifi found that out the hard way throughout his three-year stint at Williams, with the team rooted to the back of the grid on most occasions.
The Canadian had a very tough time against his teammates George Russell and Alex Albon, despite going wheel-to-wheel with both of them for wins in Formula 2.
Latifi looked back on his time in Formula 1 and said he’s struggled to extract the ultimate performance from the Williams FW44 this year whilst talking to MotorLAT ahead of the São Paulo Grand Prix.
“I just I haven’t been able to find that trust and confidence that’s been needed really. It’s as simple as that.
"And the car is the tenth slowest car on the grid so that’s one thing. But it’s not just the fact that we are lacking downforce, it’s the balance of the car as well that we struggle with that in particular."
The 27-year-old shed light on the subtleties of the Williams cars over recent years and admitted he hasn’t ever felt truly comfortable with the car.
“It’s not really ever been in the window that I need to feel comfortable to push a car to the limit consistently. This is the case even in previous years, so that’s also a bit of a Williams characteristic of the way our car has been.
“I know all the drivers that have driven it in the past four years have all kind of agreed on what needs to improve from that aspect, and it’s just kind of a work in progress.
“I guess guys like George (Russell) and Alex (Albon) have struggled less with that and have been able to adapt to it better. Whereas for me just where I like to have the car, I’ve just never been able to get that feeling and have the car in that window.”
Latifi has been somewhat lacklustre up against his teammate Alex Albon in 2022 having scored a measly two points. He explained the root of his struggles this season at Williams.
“As a whole I think the 2022 season has been a very difficult one for me, so it’s definitely not one I would describe as very positive for sure for many different reasons.
"The biggest thing is just the struggles I’ve had with getting on top of this car.
“I think with any car whether it’s go-karts, entry level formula cars, sedans, any type of cars the driver always wants to feel confident in the machinery under them to be able to trust it.
“It becomes way more important as you get closer to Formula 1 obviously as the cars have more grip and are faster and specifically in Formula 1 as it’s the pinnacle.
“I mean the amount of horsepower we have, the amount of downforce these cars have – if you’re not trusting what the cars doing underneath you, you’re not able to predict what it’s going to do.
“It’s going to prevent you from getting the most out of it every lap in the laps that matter in qualifying and consistently in the race when you’re trying to manage your tyres.”
The former Williams driver has tended to be much stronger in races than over one lap in qualifying, but 2022 has bucked the trend as he has enjoyed some superb qualifying performances.
Latifi managed a Q3 appearance at a rain-soaked Silverstone although he’s been plagued by some sub par performances on race day.
The Canadian said he’s struggled to understand his issues with tyre management but has a good understanding for where the tyre’s limit of grip is.
“This year it doesn’t seem to be the case because I’ve had some pretty shocking races as well which have been a bit puzzling just in terms of tyre management.
“I think if I’m speaking on the whole and not specifically about this year, I think I’ve always had quite a good feel of what the limits of the tyres are – especially in race conditions when you need to be very, very consistent.
The ex-Williams driver said he has always had a good understanding of managing tyres throughout his career leading up to Formula 1, a skill that helped him land six F2 wins.
“The feel of how to manage tyres is one of my strengths, it’s probably one of the things I was strongest at in Formula 2 or the last few years when I was in Formula 2, and that is obviously a very different skill compared to extracting one lap maximum pace out of the car.
“I think I’ve developed a good sensitivity to that over the years. That’s why in general I feel being able to be consistent, right to the limit of the tyre but not too much – which is what’s needed in the race – I’ve been strong at.
"This year it’s been a little bit different because sometimes on more than one occasion I’ve still been quite off in race pace, but that’s another story.”