Nicholas Latifi has admitted that his Williams Racing team-mate George Russell was often been able to adapt better to the shortfalls of the FW43 that left him trailing behind, particularly on Saturdays.
The Canadian went through his rookie season without outqualifying his British team-mate. Both drivers finished eleventh, the best result of the season for Williams, but despite Latifi doing it three times compared to Russell’s one, it was the Briton who would generally gain all the plaudits.
Latifi admits he needs to improve his driving during his sophomore year in 2021, but he also acknowledges he needs to find a way to adapt to cars that do not suit his driving style much quicker.
“The big thing is we are driving the car we have, which doesn’t have the most downforce,” said Latifi to The Race. “And it’s not necessarily the most driveable car in terms of all phases of the corner.
“We speak a lot about how’s the through-corner balance of the car, what’s the balance of the car when you brake, when you turn the wheel, when you get to the apex, when you get to the exit and you start applying throttle.
“Having something that is consistent across all of those phases, or at least consistent to the inputs you give as a driver, helps quite a lot with the confidence. I think our car is maybe a bit more sensitive to not naturally how I’d like to drive, which is pushing the entries and really attacking the corners on the brakes.
“That’s maybe been a bit of a struggle at sometimes, reminding myself ‘don’t do that, you have to drive more in this way’. It’s clearly been something George has been able to adapt to a bit better than me.”
Latifi says racing alongside Russell in his rookie season helped him become a better driver, and he admits he had to unlearn some habits he had acquired and get out of his comfort zone to be able to get the best out of the car.
“Last year in F2, there was a car change, so it wasn’t the exact same thing, it was a similar environment for those years that I spent there,” said Latifi. “You can see very quickly what your strengths and weaknesses are.
“Then, jumping into Formula 1, you’re not only driving much higher-performing cars but you’re up against the best drivers in the world. Going up against George, it’s great for me to benchmark myself against someone like that. You learn a lot more about yourself as a driver because you have to adapt.
“You can’t just stay in your comfort zone of what worked for you in the past, how you were able to drive. You have to re-wire your brain sometimes, unlearn habits.
“A big part of being a Formula 1 driver, being a top-level driver in any discipline, is being able to make these adaptations for good or for bad.”