Nicholas Latifi says he can take some confidence into his rookie Formula 1 campaign in 2020 thanks to the performances of previous rookies who have made the leap from the GP2 Series and FIA Formula 2 championship in recent years.
The twenty-four-year-old will become the second Canadian on the Formula 1 grid this year after replacing Robert Kubica at Williams Racing, and will partner George Russell in his maiden season in the premiere single-seater category.
2019 saw the high profile arrivals in Formula 1 of Lando Norris, Alexander Albon and Russell, while Latifi also highlights the recent arrivals of Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly – the first FIA Formula 2 and the final GP2 Series champion respectively – as drivers he would like to emulate in 2020.
“I think even going beyond last year, Charles and Pierre, F2 has shown that it’s a great proving ground for drivers,” Latifi is quoted as saying by Crash.net. “Drivers who have been able to step up to F1 have shown they can do the job right away, so for sure this brings confidence for me. I hope to emulate that.
“Specifically, Lando and Alex, they didn’t win the championship last year, but they’re still performing extremely well, so I’m in a position where I’ve lost out on the championship unfortunately, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be capable of doing the job.
“A lot of the grid now is made up of very young guys, which I have raced against. From that side of things, it’s a bit of familiarity. It won’t be as much of a jump at the deep end.”
Latifi expecting ‘A Challenge’ in Rookie Campaign
Despite having raced against some of his rivals during his junior career, Latifi knows his first season in Formula 1 is going to be a challenge, especially with a team that comes into 2020 on the back of their worst campaign in the sport.
Williams scored just one point in 2019 thanks to Kubica’s tenth place finish in the German Grand Prix, but Latifi has eyes on fighting against and beating team-mate Russell, something his predecessor struggled to do.
“I guess racing against the more established guys who have been there a while, I’ve done FP1s so sharing the track with them won’t be completely new, but for sure it will be something cool to properly race with them for the first time,” said Latifi.
“Like I said, it will be a challenge. We’re not aware where exactly I’m going to be relative to George at the beginning of the season. It’s impossible to know exactly as a team, but I’ll do everything I can to achieve the maximum performance.”