Latifi’s “very good” season overshadowed by Russell comparison – Roberts

2020 F1 season

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Nicholas Latifi drove a “very good” rookie campaign which was under-appreciated because of how well his team mate performed, Williams principal Simon Roberts believes.

Neither Williams driver scored a point for the team during 2020 but George Russell out-qualified Latifi at every race. Nonetheless Roberts believes Latifi progressed well given the unusual challenges of the disrupted championship.

“I think he had a very good season,” said Roberts. “It’s very easy to forget that it’s not been an easy year coming into the team as a race driver is not easy, particularly when you don’t know what circuit you’re going to go to. We’ve had some new ones to deal with.”

Russell scored his only points of the year in a one-off outing for Mercedes, in a race he led the majority of. Roberts said Latifi did “extremely well” alongside the Mercedes junior driver in comparison.

“I think what we saw from George’s outing [at Mercedes] is that George is genuinely very, very good, extremely good. So anyone up against him is going to not always look brilliant on the timesheets, particularly in qualifying where George excels.

“But when you look at it in that context and you remember how inexperienced Nicky is in these cars then I think he’s done well.”

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Latifi’s struggles in qualifying were made more difficult to address by Williams’ uncompetitive state, said Roberts.

“He’s got a lot to learn in how to extract that qualifying lap. Obviously, we [didn’t] help him with that, not only in the car’s pace but the consequence of that is you often only get two goes at it on Saturday because you can’t get out of Q1. Once the car’s got the pace to get out of Q1 and you can get more goes at it, you obviously learn much more quickly.

“So I think we will see improvements within the next year, obviously he’s got a year’s experience under his belt.”

Roberts said Latifi’s race management has already improved. “His race pace has been good, very good. He seems to have a natural affinity for that. So hopefully [the 2021] tyres won’t change requirements too much for that and he can pick up where he’s left off on the on the race pace and just improve the car overall or improve his driving over one lap.

“But I think as a debut season he’s done very well and that he brings quite a lot to the team. And a good foil for George.”

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2021 F1 season

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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13 comments on “Latifi’s “very good” season overshadowed by Russell comparison – Roberts”

  1. Hm, well, I guess it’s hard in an awful car next to an excellent teammate. And Williams will have the information to make judgements.

    Can’t say I saw much to hunt at more than him being fine as a driver from the outside though

  2. They certainly know better than us, but he seemed something like serviceable from the outside.

  3. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    13th February 2021, 15:16

    Are William’s trying to get more money out of the Latifi family? Nah hes non-entity and shouldn’t be in f1. He was hit and miss in f2.

  4. I guess from Williams point of view, they could have had best driver in the car but if there’s basically no chance for points it doesn’t really matter does it? Latifi didn’t score any less points than Russel so in hindsight it didn’t matter. They got cash from Latifi and can put it towards the car. Also he was uncontroversial and a nice decent person outside the car. Unlike some other new pay drivers entering the sport this year. Once Williams are more competitive they can start to require more of their drivers other than financial backing. But at this point there is no reason to be critical. Much better to be supportive and keep the spirits high inside the team.

  5. His Mugello restart should forfeit the use of the adjective “good” in any sentence where he is the subject.

  6. He’s not any worse than Stroll and certainly better than Sirotkin and Kubica, so it’s an upgrade to the previous drivers at any rate.

    1. I predict that he will score more points than Nikita.

      1. He certainly won’t be more embarrassing than NM.

    2. Stroll isn’t even what i would consider a bad driver by f1 standards any more. He was poor initially, but if Perez has been as good as many ranked him this year, Stroll was still ahead in the standings well past the half way mark 10 races into the season (Russia). And Stroll had had 3 retirements vs Perez missing 2 races at that point. Perez overall was far better due to the later part of the season, but I don’t really know why people keep comparing poor drivers to Stroll. If Perez was any good this season, Stroll has to get a lot of credit for the majority of his season too. Either that or Perez has not had a good season on the whole which i don’t think is the case.

  7. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    13th February 2021, 19:44

    >Latifi had a good season but Russells was just much better
    >indirectly confess your second driver is bad compared to your first

    Nice one Williams!

  8. Latifi’s cheque for 2021 must have cleared into the williams bank account today. Does anyone know how much latifi actually paying to qualify last and finish no higher that 16th?

  9. “And a good foil for George”
    Lol

  10. We’re proud to say that our two drivers are the fastest Williams drivers on the grid today. And that’s an indisputable fact. Nicky may be driving the worst car but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s always the worst driver. Comparison to his team mate is unfair because George is, like, a really really really good driver.

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