Team mate battles 2020: The final score – Russell vs Latifi

2020 F1 season review

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With the 2020 season in the books, it’s time to run the rule over which drivers got the better of their team mates this year. First up is the Williams pair.

While George Russell gave new team mate Nicholas Latifi an absolute pasting in qualifying, the only rookie to contest a full season in 2020 justified his place in F1 with some creditable race performances.

Latifi was the first of the team’s drivers home on two occasions, at Monza and Sochi. At Imola, where Russell did not see the chequered flag having crashed during a Safety Car period, Latifi bagged 11th place for the second time in the season. On this occasion he was less than a second away from beating Antonio Giovinazzi to the final point.

But while Latifi persevered in the races, Saturdays must have left his head ringing. He never managed to beat Russell once – just like Robert Kubica the year before – and the average gap between them in representative sessions was a whopping 0.563 seconds, the largest on the grid.

That figure excludes Turkey, where Latifi’s 11-second-plus deficit to Russell was partly a consequence of his crash at the end of Q1. He was typically over half a second slower, and gaps close to a second were not uncommon.

George Russell, Williams, Hungaroring, 2020
Russell was nearly a second quicker than Latifi in Hungary
As Williams’ head of vehicle performance Dave Robson pointed out, Russell’s consistent success in reaching Q2 meant the gap between him and Latifi was, to an extent, self-perpetuating. Latifi’s failure to reach Q2 on all bar one occasion meant he didn’t have as many opportunities as Russell to practice his single flying laps.

Starts were a weakness for the team: Both drivers struggled to get the FW43 off the line well and found it handled particularly poorly in heavy traffic. This meant whatever heroics Russell managed by repeatedly dragging it into Q2 often came to naught.

With Mercedes firmly denying Russell will get the chance to replace Valtteri Bottas full-time in the 2021 F1 season, Williams current team mates will see each other again next year. Top of the to-do list for Latifi will be shrinking that yawning qualifying gap. Russell, meanwhile, has his sights fixed on promotion to the top team, which his one-off appearance in the Sakhir Grand Prix showed he is quite ready for.

In Russell’s absence, Jack Aitken had a single start for Williams, and did well to qualify within a tenth of a second of his team mate on his debut. After starting the race well he knocked his front wing off, though he made it to the chequered flag, while an oil leak forced Latifi out.

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Positive gap: Latifi was ahead; Negative gap: Russell was ahead

Race-by-race results summary: Russell and Latifi

George RussellQ
Nicholas LatifiQ

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2020 F1 season review

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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14 comments on “Team mate battles 2020: The final score – Russell vs Latifi”

  1. Wanna see the stats of Max vs Albon. I think he might deserve the seat next Hamilton even more.

    1. Max & Lewis in Merc next year would be INSANE. But no way. Lewis would never allow that. And Toto certainly won’t either. Valtteri is perfect for them. Solid enough to score good points for the WCC, but never really challenging Lewis. Another “Silver War” à la Nico Rosberg/LH is the last thing Toto wants for the team. And Max would make it nuclear.

  2. Jose Lopes da Silva
    14th December 2020, 17:08

    Formula 1 (I’m pointing to fans, rather than specialised journalists) works a lot on the basic of light perceptions. Without the Sakhir race, Russell would be carrying the shadow of Imola’s mistake and some others eventual (?…) near misses on points. Myself have pointed that he was needing a good showing quickly. And he delivered. He impressed me more in Sakhir not for is well-known speed, but for the ability to deal with pressure, which is absolutely essential in this and in every sport. It’s important to underline that Russell has finally scored his first points, in a mentally challenging situation where it would have easy to made a mistake. It would be nice to imagine that Russell’s 2020 season would be a good example for people to learn how this sport, a team sport, works. I’m not a Russell fan but I’d like to seem deliver in a top team.

    Being a whistleblower for Stroll’s shenanigans in Formula 3 and being hit by Mazepin’s male bravado is, to me, a non-sport plus. Showing Latifi the way is a big plus.

  3. Latifi = Tarso Marques and Alex Yoong combined

  4. Latifi was matched by Aitken in his only race. Both in qualy and the race.

    I don’t know what he’s done to deserve another chance…

    1. Exactly my thoughts.
      That probably was the biggesr surprise of that race for me, as Russell only did something I thought he would but was afraid he wouldn’t.

      Also, Keith – forgot these post-season stats articles existed, really happy to see them actually :)

      1. @minilemm

        Also, Keith – forgot these post-season stats articles existed, really happy to see them actually :)

        Glad you like them and you’re very welcome. Haas went up today as well, more coming over the rest of the week.

    2. José Lopes da Silva
      14th December 2020, 23:49

      OFC you know. Formula 1 for 2021 has 17 seats. Then you have a Team Owner and two old-school pay drivers.

    3. @fer-no65 Latifi had pulled ahead of Aitken by about 13 seconds in the race before he had to retire due to that oil leak.

      Whilst not the largest gap, Latifi was gradually pulling away from Aitken during the race – and, given his mechanical retirement, there is the question of whether Latifi’s pace might have been slightly compromised if he had a gradually worsening mechanical issue.

  5. I wish I could be 0.5s to 1s slower than George Russel.

    1. Damn it. Russell.

  6. So, finally tally, Latifi has three P11 race finishes to one for George in the Williams in 2020. Still, would rather see George in a black Merc or a Red Bull next year. Williams is a waste.

    1. That being impossible in 2021 the best would be if Williams improved significantly…

  7. Another great performance by Russell this year. First winning the Sim championship and then beating his Williams again in all available quali’s.
    Russel also showed in his single Mercedes outing that he can handle the pressure and perform when required.

    Latiffi was actually a lot closer on Sunday’s than I ever expected him to be as a rookie. He was less far behind the more experienced Russel during most race weekend. For now he’ll go into my ‘wait and see how he develops’ pot.

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