Nicholas Latifi, Williams, Yas Marina

Latifi expects “highly-rated” Russell to start season with advantage

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In the round-up: Nicholas Latifi says he expects to get on well with new team mate George Russell.

What they say

Russell emphatically beat Robert Kubica during 2019, but Latifi isn’t fazed by the prospect of going up against him:

I’m going to try and do my own thing. I’m my own person, my own driver.

Obviously George is one of the highest-rated junior drivers. I’m very much looking forward to going up against him. For sure he’ll be a good benchmark, a good reference for me in the beginning parts to learn. He’s not going to be a rookie any more next year so I assume he will have some advantage.

I think we’re going to work very well together. Where the results are, where the performance is going to be, it’s obviously very difficult to say. But regardless, my goal is still going to be to just try to extract the maximum performance, whatever package we have.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Did Nico Hulkenberg deserve more from his stint in Formula 1?

I think Hulkenberg can rightly feel pretty hard done by from F1.

His career spanned the decade from 2010 to 2019, a period which saw utter dominance from first Red Bull, then Mercedes, with only McLaren (early on) and Ferrari being regular podium contenders. Podiums or race wins earned on merit were incredibly rare for the midfield teams, and Hulkenberg never found himself with that package.

He came close but was passed over for a drive with one of the big teams, agonisingly so in 2016 when he had just signed for Renault when Mercedes came looking for a Rosberg replacement.

At Renault he dominated Palmer, then convincingly beat Sainz, who is now enjoying the plaudits that come with competitive machinery. Against a tough benchmark in Ricciardo there was little to choose between them by way of margins, in both quality and races.

And whilst Germany was indeed the nadir of his season, it did come after a superb weekend where he dominated Ricciardo through practice and qualifying and was the driver of the race until he skidded off on the roulette patch. It’s a shame 40 laps of the highest quality get overshadowed by a single small mistake, when others like Kvyat and Stroll drove lacklustre races and cashed in by rolling the dice on strategy simply because they had nothing left to loose.

Unfortunately I don’t think F1 will miss Hulkenberg for a minute. In my mind he deserved more than he got.

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Keith Collantine
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  • 51 comments on “Latifi expects “highly-rated” Russell to start season with advantage”

    1. Here I was thinking that I wasn’t going to agree with Latifi on anything.

      Season hasn’t started and I was already proven wrong

      Oh well

    2. Can I have some of what EJ’s been smoking?

      I wonder exactly what Lewis Hamilton has to do to get recognition as a sportsperson. Yes Stokes had a great year but for mine, Hamilton’s achievements outweigh them bu a long way.

      1. Us Brits deserve the usual failure served up by our sports “stars”. Lewis Hamilton deserves more from his own countrymen. This just shows he is not appreciated by the British public. If this was any other country in the world he would be rightly held on a pedestal as a shining light of the nation’s sporting achievements. Once again I am ashamed of my fellow countrymen.

        1. This is most often the cause of whole Motorsport, people like Cricket and Football more so they have more voters.

        2. Few people watch F1 in Britain any more. Put it back on FTA TV and Hamilton might win SPOTY every year!

      2. To be fair, the drama of that Cricket World Cup final is more memorable than any single Hamilton moment and gripped the nation far more.

        Nothing against Hamilton, 2nd is fair. It’s more case of people having more affinity with the spectacle of a final rather than a series of events that happen to constitute a championship.

        Same reason why Liverpool got more plaudits for winning the champions league than Man City did for a domestic treble.

      3. I think Stokes probably deserved it this year given what he did. I don’t know a thing about cricket but if it was as incredible as people are saying, then yeah. Obviously Hamilton is overall and over their careers a better sportsperson, arguably the best ever English sportsperson (?), but based on this year alone, while he was amazing, yeah. He probably won’t win next year either, given there are the Olympics, another world event, so probably someone will do something spectacular there and win it, but maybe in 2021 if he gets his 8th title, and by then will have got the wins record too (though he may get that next year, and equalling Michael’s seven with that will give him a chance of SPOTY, I smell another 2nd place personally).

      4. It makes sense. It is a new challenge for Lewis. If successful will also make him win with 3 teams which is quite rare.

    3. Yes, Russel’s advantage over Latifi is talent, good of him to spot that early on.
      2 Canadian drivers in F1 next year and it’s not a shining moment for Canada.

    4. Who the hell in Ben Stokes?

      1. Stephen Higgins
        16th December 2019, 8:46

        Hits leather balls with a fat stick, occasionally throws them at thin sticks in the ground.

        1. drinks a lot of tea.

        2. Hasnt he spent half the last few years either suspended by the sport or up in front of the magistrate. Still a hard luck story is all you need to ‘win’ these days. Personally I’m glad he doesn’t turn up for most of these so called ‘awards’, which are just an excuse for cheap programming or to get a few ‘names’ along to your christmas bash.

          1. Given he was found innocent a pretty cheap shot.

    5. Cristiano Ferreira
      16th December 2019, 4:10

      Probably Russel will have an edge over Latifi in the beginning of the season, but i do expect that the gap between the 2 will be closer as the season progress. I don’t expect it to be another walk in the park as it was with Kubica.

      1. I strongly expect it will be another walk in the park.

        Latifi’s junior career is a story of mediocrity: his championship finishes to date are 15th, 10th, 11th (at the F3/F3.5 level) and 16th, 5th, 9th, and finally 2nd at the GP/F2 level. By the time he recorded his first ever top three championship result, he was a four-year veteran in the series.

        By contrast, Russell’s results are 6th, 3rd and 1st at the F3/GP3 level, and 1st at the F2 level – with the last two being rookie victories in fairly dominant fashion.

        If Latifi is anywhere close to Russell, it will be a big surprise.

        1. Cristiano Ferreira
          16th December 2019, 5:37

          I agree but lets see how things fare. I bet even Mercedes is keen to see how things unfold now. It’s almost certain we are going to have a second “Lance Stroll” in the grid but lets hope this one is a little better.

      2. Which part of Latifi’s makes you think that he’ll get closer to Russell (or any other driver for that matter)?

        1. @coldfly – no one said that it’d happen on the same lap ;)

        2. Cristiano Ferreira
          16th December 2019, 16:33


          The safety car part of the race :P

    6. Good old EJ. To be honest, he does get it right on occasion, but then again, law of probability perhaps?

      Anyway, its not an entirely outlandish idea for Lewis to go to Ferrari, I’ve been predicting this for years. However, Wolff following across may be fanciful. I can’t really see that happening, but, Lewis could demand that Toto is given a senior role, and that would be very interesting. If Lewis is in negotiation, he would be holding all the cards. I’d say Ferrari need him more than he does them.

      Ferrari need to sell more cars, and who else better to be the face of that? Some fresh faced kid from Monaco or a ultra-hip/woke 7 time world champion? The Ferrari of old, where the Old Man and LdM strove to keep the brand totally exclusive, chugging along to the ear shattering sound of V12s are long gone. I believe Sergio Marchionne was quite clear that he wanted Ferrari to operate more like Porsche. Lewis can be a key cog in that transition. Their stock price is going great just now, staying there will be the challenge.

      1. @jaymenon10 The only way Hamilton will go to Ferrari is obviously if Mercedes are pulling out. If not he is just playing games to mess up Vettel.

        1. I dont think anyone is doing anything anymore because of Vettel

        2. As much as it’s easy to say EJ enjoys the sound of his own voice……. we all laughed at him when he said Schumacher will be joining Mercedes in 2010, he ‘100% guarantees it’ and 6 months later………. he was right.

        3. Nobody has to do anything to “mess up” Vettel, Vettel does fine doing that by himself, and is usually the one messing up other people, by crashing into them.

      2. I can kind of see the logic of Hamilton going to Ferrari if he can take the core of the Mercedes team with him to do what Schumi + Brawn et all achieved @jaymenon10. He must see that is the only way to create a team that achieves again.

        But I really don’t see it as all that likely that it will happen.

        1. @bascb
          “if he can take the core of the Mercedes team with him to do what Schumi + Brawn et all achieved” This is rather ironic, considering that’s the team who laid the foundation for the current Mercedes team.
          Toto simply picked up the fruits from Brawn’s work.

      3. @jaymenon10
        Hip and woke, or boring and fake?
        The opinion of Lewis is extremely divided, depending on who you ask, and I’m not sure the average Ferrari buyer identifies with a advocate for plant based diets and who is highly (rightfully imo) critical of co2 emissions and such. It actually might be that the fresh faced 22 year old sells more units if he becomes WDC, which is not that far fetched an idea. (I do admit I’m putting my money on Lewis)

        Also, selling more units sounds great, but selling more than 10.000 will force them to comply with the more strict emissions criteria that apply to Europe’s larger manufacturers.

        And Porsche? The most boring sports car manufacturer in the world? Operating like them is pretty simple; design one car and milk that design for decades with minor tweaks. Ok, the profits might be ok, but they would loose everything that makes Ferrari so special.

        1. Oconomo

          “Hip and woke, or boring and fake?” – I am no fan of Hamilton, but the former description is what he is generally accepted as. Is ha fake? Perhaps, but there aren’t enough cynical people such as you and I in the world to see past the facade.

          “’m not sure the average Ferrari buyer identifies with a advocate for plant based diets and who is highly (rightfully imo) critical of co2 emissions and such” – Its funny you mention this, but a green, woke, vegan person will be the millennial Ferrari driver….because you can declare yourself carbon neutral? haha.

          “Ok, the profits might be ok, but they would loose everything that makes Ferrari so special” – I think Sergio Marchionne has already set the scene. Ferrari will start building SUVs soon (I believe it will be released in a couple years), that in itself tells you enough and more. The Ferrari of old has long been dead.

        2. Oconomo, Porsche’s profits are more than “might be OK” – Porsche’s profit margin is significantly greater than that of Ferrari, and Ferrari isn’t even remotely close to Porsche in terms of scale (we’re talking about a company a seventh of the size of Porsche). It’s long been known that Ferrari have been somewhat envious of the rise of Porsche over the years – whilst Ferrari’s sales have roughly doubled over the last 15 years, Porsche has grown five-fold in the same period (Ferrari is still some way behind where Porsche was about 20 years ago).

          The issue of the 10,000 limit on production is one that Ferrari know they’re going to hit sooner or later. Marchionne made it clear he was planning on a fairly aggressive expansion programme for the coming years, and Camilleri had indicated he will continue that (15 planned new models over the next five years) – it’s why they’ve got plans for more hybrid and full electric cars in the near future.

          @jaymenon10, asides from the planned “Purosangue” turbo-hybrid SUV planned for 2022 (there’s talk that the model line up will include a V6 twin turbo unit with hybrid assist), Camilleri has also confirmed that Ferrari are looking at a pure electric vehicle for 2023.

          You could also add that Ferrari has made it clear it’s planning to diversify away from just being a car manufacturer and turning itself into more of a provider of luxury goods and services. They’ve already confirmed plans to offer “new apparel and accessory collections, entertainment offers, and luxury products and services for clients”, which includes luxury goods produced in their new partnership with Armani and the high end restaurant they’re opening in Maranello.

          Their medium term sales strategy wants at least 10% of their business to come from that side business. They made it clear when they went public that they’re not looking at themselves as just an automotive manufacturer, but as a luxury goods seller – they were comparing themselves more to Armani rather than Porsche. As you note, the old image of Ferrari died years ago – they’ve got a very different outlook now.

          1. @anon
            Ofcourse the profits are ok, not denying that anywhere, but the profit margin is significantly less.
            Porsche sold over 250.000 units in 2018 and made a net profit of roughly 3,5 billion euro, where as Ferrari sold less than 10.000 units (25 times less) and made a net profit of roughly 750 million euro. I think you can do the math yourself.
            So, to get where porsche is, they need to expand 25 times, abandon their exclusivity and decrease the profit margin by quite a bid.
            Ofcourse this might be achievable, but is it that realistic?

            Porsche is just another, rather boring, car manufacturer targeting bland people with deep pockets, perceived by many to be soulless and flavorless…Ferrari is Ferrari; I’m not sure the investors, who make good value on their money, are convinced this is the way to go.
            And I can image the general Ferrari fan being quite upset seeing a Cayenne like Ferrari.
            Granted, coming back to the actual point, if Ferrari wants to become like another boring German car manufacturer, Hamilton might be the appropriate poster boy….

            1. Fyi: The last part was a pun ofcourse.

    7. If Hamilton really did decide to move to Ferrari for 2021, I can envisage the following occurring as a result: Verstappen moves to Mercedes to replace Hamilton, and Vettel moving back to Red Bull. Mercedes will want an A-grade driver who is capable of winning the title for them, and Verstappen is arguably the most desirable driver in F1 given his age and potential, and would be the ideal replacement for Hamilton. If I were Mercedes, I’d be looking towards a Verstappen-Russell partnership long-term. They will clash, no doubt, but Russell seems to be quite a mature head like Button, and the partnership will likely still be productive. And after losing Verstappen, Red Bull won’t have a lot of options. None of Gasly, Albon and Kvyat look like elite F1 drivers, and Red Bull wouldn’t want to go into 2021 without any notable drivers. Cue Vettel rejoining the team, as Horner will likely back himself to get Vettel back to his best.

      1. @mashiat It’s been nearly 13 years since Red Bull most recently took a drive to the senior team who hadn’t driven for the B-team before, so I doubt that’d happen. More likely, Seb would quit racing in F1.

        1. @jerejj It’s also nearly been 13 years since Red Bull didn’t have a single promising/elite driver on their books (if Verstappen leaves). What will they do if Verstappen leaves, have a pairing of Gasly and Albon? They might as well just wave goodbye to any hope of being competitive. It wouldn’t surprise me if McLaren overtook them in that case.

          1. @mashiat ”have a pairing of Gasly and Albon?” – Probably, yes.

            1. @jerejj That would be a seriously underwhelming partnership. I would hope Red Bull would do better than a partnership I’d expect at Toro Rosso.

        2. @jerejj, the possibility of Vettel quitting F1 does seem high – by 2021, he’ll have had a second year of bickering and conflict with Leclerc to deal with over the 2020 season, as it seems very unlikely that battle will quieten down soon, and that is likely to be a rather draining experience for him (it’ll probably be a draining experience for both drivers).

          Similarly, it seems that he’s not particularly happy with the way that the sport is developing under the direction of Liberty Media. He’s been critical of a number of initiatives that have come in now and have been proposed in recent years (remember his angry outburst against the proposal for reversed grids), where, like a number of fans, he objects to the gimmicks they want to bring in.

          I think that it is quite plausible that, by the end of the 2020 season, he might feel a sense of disenchantment and disillusionment that could result in him choosing to quit.

      2. You’re forgetting Ricciardo, are you? I’d think that Horner would be willing to bet on Ricciardo over Vettel. Or better still, pair them up.

        1. My gut tells me Max isn’t going anywhere soon. Of course this is all crystal balling it, and who knows, but it does seem to me that RBR/Honda is coming on really strongly, and if I’m Max, and as per his analysis of 2019, 2020 should be even better, and 2021 is an unknown, but how better to experience an unknown time in F1 than with a team that often nails it’s strategies and pit stops, has Honda doing everything they can which is working, and has genius Adrian Newey digesting the juicy new regs as we speak and will be working his magic like no other.

          No I don’t see Max leaving an upsurging team to go to Mercedes after their big LH wave, and a wave that one could reasonable argue might have had it’s day once LH and TW have theoretically moved on. Not with all he has going for him at RBR.

          No for me Ferrari would have no attraction for Max at this time, and nor would Mercedes post-LH/TW.

          Besides, if Brawn has his way, come 2021 there won’t be a dominant runaway team, but several teams very close to each other just as the cars are to be racing closer to each other. So why would Max leave home? Why would LH? If indeed everything will be really close, they may as well be with their families with which to fight the good fight.

          1. @robbie – are you confident about Honda staying in F1 in the longer term? While Dieter seemed to be reaching in his conclusion that the lack of a big announcement implied a lack of commitment from Honda, I’m also cognizant of the fact that as a pure PU supplier, Honda are not benefiting from F1 payouts to the extent a works team does (and I don’t think the 2021 financial regs have addressed that either, have they?). Not to mention the corporate pressures all auto manufacturers are facing to show they’re going electric.

            I agree with you that I don’t see Max leaving Newey, but what if they’re locked out of Merc and Ferrari PUs, and Honda cannot sustain their year-on-year development? Would Max leave a Honda-powered team if VTEC hasn’t kicked in by 2021?

            Both @dbradock and you (in your comment below) make a good point that 2021 might not have much top driver upheaval, as all will be waiting to see how the 2021 chips fall, and it is the 2022 line-up that might be the one that is hotly contested.

            1. @phylyp Yes I am confident that Honda will be staying for a time yet. They’re just starting to get good with RBR. Just from my armchair, obviously, it would make no sense for them to leave now, as in, in the next year or two. Honda may not be benefiting from a payout…or…maybe RBR shares some of the Constructor’s winnings with them…or…perhaps their marketing impact for being in F1 suffices for them. If money is an issue to the higher ups at Honda, they could always charge RBR, and I’m sure RBR would pay.

              As to car companies going electric or appearing to do so, I have no concern there as I do not believe that what manufacturers mean is that their whole fleets will be totally EV only, and soon. When they say they are ‘going electric’ to me that includes hybrid, and that is what F1 is playing at. So to me it is a perfect fit right now for F1 to be hybrid and for car manufacturers who need to show themselves to be environmentally conscious, to be involved in F1, developing hybrid technology. Full electric is still just far too impractical for far too many people just yet. Hybrid imho will be around for quite a long time yet.

              Is Dieter on to something? Hey he’s far more inside than I of course, but for now I am certainly not going to hang my hat on the concept that just because their confirmation of being in F1 in 2021 was low key, that means they’re having doubts. It might just mean they aren’t into the big splash announcements. I’d also like to think that Honda knows well how much power they have as a ‘rare’ Pu supplier in F1, and I think they will respectfully give RBR and Liberty plenty of notice if indeed they do want to leave in the next handful of years.

            2. Cheers @robbie, thank you for your response.

            3. @phylyp, you are right that, from the public announcements Honda have made, that they seem to have some concerns over the regulations from 2021 onwards – which did include making their long term participation conditional on the details of the proposed cost cutting measures for engine development.

              It has been pointed out that Honda do have wider issues across the company, especially in Europe – their sales in Europe have collapsed to the point where they’re pretty much quitting the European market altogether. Their factories were working at barely half capacity at best, as their sales figures in Europe have steadily fallen for the past decade (their market share now, at 0.8%, is the lowest it has ever been since they entered the market in the 1980s), and now they’re being shut down altogether due to lack of demand for what is viewed as a pretty lacklustre sales range in Europe.

              For robbie’s comments about electric vehicles, it’s worth noting that China – which has been one market Honda have been relying on a lot in recent years – is seeing a massive boom in electric car sales: electric car sales in China are more than the USA and Europe combined, and Honda doesn’t have that many options for that market.

              All in all, I don’t think that Honda’s participation can be completely guaranteed – there are signs that Honda might be interested in staying, but not at all costs and not if they start coming under more pressure in their core markets. I wouldn’t necessarily be all that sure they would give all that much notice either – in the past, at least, Honda’s previous withdrawals from other teams came at relatively short notice (for example, Ross Brawn had no warning that Honda were going to pull out when they shut their works team down).

              As an aside, whilst robbie might have commented about the “genius Adrian Newey digesting the juicy new regs as we speak and will be working his magic like no other”, Newey himself has been more downbeat about the regulations – he did, after all, sarcastically quip that the sport should just commission Dallara to design a standard chassis, because he thought the 2021 regulations are not far off that. The rules are the most proscriptive they have ever been in terms of the design volumes which can be used – for some idea, there is a visual model here showing the development volumes and how tightly they describe the shape of the car here.

    8. But today is the actual national day, so surely there’d be people present on the track today as well. Furthermore: ”The change in venue from Sao Paulo to Circuit of The Americas for the next round of the season will have an impact on the tire selection approach,” – I thought COTA was going to be closed for the winter throughout.

      While I share the same views with the COTD, I don’t agree with it thoroughly, only to an extent.

      Regarding the Top Gear-article: Way too early for those speculations. The 2020 season hasn’t even started yet, and won’t for three months.

    9. EJ’s prediction… Hamilton to Ferrari is a possibility, based on the sort of challenge that Hamilton wants to set for himself in 2021.

      Toto joining him? It seems unlikely. Let’s not forget Toto is a businessman at heart (his entry into F1 with Williams was one of partial ownership/directorship, not to mention his ownership stake in the Mercedes F1 team), and his Wikipedia page mentions investments in both motorsport and non-motorsport entities. Not to mention that it would be at best a lateral move as team principal of one team to another, especially when he doesn’t need to prove his team building and management credentials.

      I’d give far more credence to the rumours of him replacing Carey than of him joining Ferrari.

      1. Exactly, Toto likes to have skin in the game so I can’t see him anywhere near Ferrari.

        Far more likely he’ll replace Carey.

        Personally I think we’ll see a lot of 1 year contracts being signed at the end of next year – can’t see any driver jumping ship until they see which team(s) arrive with a decent car in 2021. Then they’ll be looking for a drive with the best option in 2022.

    10. On January 7 LH will be 35. So at a minimum he would be 36 and starting a building project with Ferrari, assuming Mercedes will still be the dominant team and not Ferrari next year. Even if Ferrari were to dominate 2020 and look like the team to be with at least car wise, 2021 is a sea change, and an unknown.

      Personally I’ve been of the opinion all along that none of the top drivers should make a move until they see how their respective teams do for 2021. Why would they risk leaving the team that might be the one to beat under the wholly new regs?

      So by my logic, LH et al should still be with their current teams through 2021. That puts LH at 37 and embarking on a new venture with Ferrari. Can’t see it, unless they’ve proven by then to be the WCC team of desire by the drivers. Failing that I cannot see LH spending his last year’s in F1 working to build Ferrari up to what he had at Mercedes.

      The only way I can see EJ being right about LH to Ferrari after next year, is if indeed TW leaves Mercedes and LH sees that as so detrimental to the team that he may as well go to Ferrari while he has enough time left in F1. But I also can’t see TW going to Ferrari, at all.

      I’m leaning towards EJ being off the mark and LH remaining at Mercedes for the duration of his career.

    11. Regarding the quote from Max, I always smile to myself when drivers or other team members talk about closer racing and tighter competition but then let their true desire skip in some answers when saying they want the years of their team dominance back. As with most of us they simply want to win, always, if possible 😀

      1. @bakano, not to mention that, when asked if he would be interested in the idea of joining a Ferrari team where he’d have Leclerc as his team mate, Verstappen’s response was “I think that you shouldn’t have two potential number ones driving next to each other.”

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