F1 team mate battles at mid-season: Russell vs Latifi

2021 F1 season

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George Russell continues to dominate the qualifying scoreline at Williams as he has since he arrived in F1 two years ago.

As well as being 11-0 up on Nicholas Latifi so far this year, he was never out-qualified by him all last season either, and came out on top every time against Robert Kubica in 2019 as well. Only on his one-off appearance for Mercedes last year has Russell been beaten by a team mate on Saturday – and even then there was only two-hundredths of a second in it.

These strong qualifying performances usually set Russell up to finish ahead of Latifi, assuming he doesn’t do something like trip over a Mercedes on the way as he did at Imola. But when points were finally there to be taken Latifi claimed most of them, and this wasn’t entirely against the run of play.

Russell’s first-lap performances haven’t been quite up to Latifi’s standard, and this has undermined some of those superior qualifying efforts. While Latifi has gained a total of 11 places on lap one this year, Russell has lost six. Naturally, this is partly because Russell has stood to lose more as he’s qualifying on average more than four places further up the grid.

But in Hungary – only the second time all season the pair shared the same row of the grid – Latifi got ahead of Russell at the start and stayed there. Russell enjoyed better pace in the second half of the race once he got into clear air and caught his team mate quickly, but Latifi beat him to the larger points haul by just over a second.

Russell is widely and deservedly tipped to have a future as a Mercedes driver. But Latifi can feel satisfied by how close he’s got to his highly-rated team mate on occasions in qualifying, held his own on race day, and reaped a surprising dividend as a result.

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George Russell vs Nicholas Latifi: Key stats

George Russell vs Nicholas Latifi: Who finished ahead at each round

George RussellQ
Nicholas LatifiQ

George Russell vs Nicholas Latifi: Qualifying gap

Times based on the last qualifying round at each race weekend in which both drivers set a time. Negative indicates George Russell was faster, positive means Nicholas Latifi was faster

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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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26 comments on “F1 team mate battles at mid-season: Russell vs Latifi”

  1. And again a season where his teammate scores more championship points. At least until now.
    Russell should work on his starts, only then he is interesting as a partner for Lewis.
    Problem is, taking the correct decision during the first lap is largely by instinct and experience.
    Experience will come, but instinct is a different matter.

    1. I wonder what George problem is with starting he is one of the few who is going backwards in round one.

      Is it the Mercedes start lanch i don’t know but if he doesn’t fix this he will always lose from Lewis as Lewis is a good starter and lap 1 fighter. And with how F1 works once ahead it’s hard to pass specially your teammate.

      1. @macleod

        Is it the Mercedes start lanch i don’t know but if he doesn’t fix this he will always lose from Lewis as Lewis is a good starter and lap 1 fighter.

        Interesting how selective memories so easily come into play, because this season Hamilton was a mediocre starter, his total gained positions at lap 1 amounts to 0, a neither positive nor negative balance. And that’s still a little flattering as it doesn’t take into account restarts (like the one he was caught napping against Verstappen in Portimao and the brake magic fluff in Baku in which he lost staggering 14 positions in just one lap dropping to last), and he didn’t actually overtake Max in lap 1 at France as the latter went out of track, so it was an effortless track position won. Of course Lewis had stages of his career in which he was a good starter and others, like 2016 season, in which his bad starts probably costed him the WDC against Rosberg. But fortunately I’m here to sometimes remind LH44 fanatics of bad stuff from him as well, if not they remain stuck only in the upside and start to imagine he’s a god, and Formula 1 is nothing more than a fantasy world that only exists to indulge him.

        1. @rodewulf
          That’s impressive stat just to ‘remind’ LH44 fans of bad stuff lol. I’m sure you are LH44 biggest fan ‘cos even a super LH44 fan like myself don’t remember all of that. I’m sue you itch to ‘remind’ LH44 fans of all bad things LH44 has done loool. What LH44 colour hat do you have? Mine is red. LH44 living rent free in peoples minds.

          1. @lums Yeah, it can be said I’m a nerd for stats. About all drivers, cars, teams and of course about Lewis too! It doesn’t make me a fan of him, though. But that’s clear that Kimi, Fernando, Lewis and Seb produced the most interesting stats in recent Formula 1 history due to their careers being so long and successful, and that’s even more true to the first two drivers of that list, guys who raced for years in fast cars but not rarely in crappy or not so good cars as well.

        2. Because Max is a good starter doesn’t mean Lewis is a bad starter and i was thinking over a few years not a couple of bad races.

          1. @macleod Well, to say Lewis has been a terrible starter might be an overstatement, I agree. That’s why I called it mediocre, which doesn’t mean amongst the very bad. If you include the last few years it might also compound a better picture of him, he had many good starts in recent past. But anyway this season he has been average on that measure, at best. Even though he’s still way better than Russell and Tsunoda, by far the two with actually the worst lap-1 launches overall (Gasly might appear as the driver who lost the most positions in the race starts, but this figure is highly distorted due to incidents).

        3. Lewis’s starting is the weakest part of his trade. The fact he’s won as many races as he has, actually shows that it’s overtaking ability that separate the good from the great

          1. @banbrorace When comparing to Bottas, yeah… Pretty much it is! One of the best racecrafts on the grid against currently one of the worst.

    2. Stroll is a great starter. I don’t know if that’s something you can learn, really. Alonso is one that always had it as well, he knows the right places to be like very few, since his early career.

  2. The George Russell situation is fascinating, in a lot of ways it reminds me of Charles Leclerc a couple of years ago. At Sauber, he dominated Ericsson and looked super talented but no one really knew how good he was, being in a midfield car against an okay teammate. It wasn’t until he got the Ferrari seat against a 4 time world champion did we really see how good he was.
    I feel it’s the same for George, it’s not until he’s got a very good car against a top tier driver that we can confirm how good he is. In Bahrain last year, all the signs pointed to him being the next superstar.
    His qualifying is definitely his strongest points but that doesn’t seem to carry through to Sundays in quite the same way, in a match up against Hamilton I feel that is where he’d probably lose out.
    As for Latifi, its difficult to judge – he’s clearly maximised the opportunities he has had, but being badly outraced for a couple of seasons by his teammate is never going to be great for his career

    1. @burden93 I wouldn’t say ‘badly outraced’ is an accurate way to describe Latifi. Badly out-qualified, yes, but more often than not he’s competitive with George in race pace. Still behind most of the time, but for most of their time as teammates they seem to have been running just a few seconds apart at the back.

    2. @burden93 Anybody who can win GP3/GP2 championships in his first year can be said to become a future star. Still it is so much to do with the timing. I strongly believe Russell will win races and even become a champion but sometimes the waiting game takes longer than usual. Jacques Villeneuve almost won the championship in his first season and when he eventually won that in 1997 he only took 4 podium places in his next 7 full seasons. Mika Hakkinen on the other hand took 6 seasons to take his first win and then become 2 time champion. Russell is only 23 so there is plenty of time.

  3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    11th August 2021, 11:54

    This kid’s doing stellar work – the most underpaid driver in the world! We may have forgotten the name Williams if it wasn’t for him.

    1. +1. GR is really the only good thing Williams have had going for them in the past couple of years. As a Williams fan, I’m really hoping that we will come up with an amazing car next year and GR will take a punt on one more year with us. Unlikely, of course, but he does seem to genuinely love this team.

  4. Nothing wrong with George’s start in Sakhir last year – he outbraked Bottas into turn 1 and checked out. In Hungary Latifi had a clearer path through the turn 1 carnage and was able to get ahead of Russell on the exit. Once the race settled down after the tyre stops Russell (no relation) was about 15 seconds behind Latifi. By the end he was just over a second away with a best lap 7/10ths quicker than the Canadian. He would be fine against Hamilton in the same car, which is why Hamilton doesn’t want him there – he saw what George did in his car at Sakhir and rushed back for Abu Dhabi before he was fully recovered.

    Reply moderated
    1. Absolutely true, just give him a 5 race trials and you’ll be surprised, other than perez.

  5. It is really very simple.
    I have a seat …..

    Latifi could pay me to sit in my seat.
    I would pay Russell to sit in my seat.

    Simple as that.

  6. That points tally stat must really be hurting Russell. By far a few leagues above his teammate in every aspect of racing.. but trailing him by 2 points .. Lol

  7. George’s stats are the most fascinating of any team really. In terms of Championship points, George has been hammered by both Kubica and Latifi, looking at that stat alone you’d ditch him for someone else.

    But the reality is that he is the superstar of the team, watching George getting into Q3 has become as much of a highlight for me as seeing who takes pole! He tends to drop back at the start, but I think that’s mainly because he almost always starts out of position due to qualifying so high up the grid.

    I was very critical of Latifi when he signed for Williams, but on balance he does actually seem to be a very competent driver. He keeps his nose clean, keeps it on track and brings the car home. He’s not an exciting driver, but Williams aren’t in a position to be fighting for top places right now so they don’t need that. If Latifi can give good feedback on the car to aid with development, keep it out of the barriers, and maybe bring a bit of money with him – then Williams have no complaints.

    George has embedded himself into F1, he’s the chairman of the GPDA, and it’s clear that he sees himself having a long future in the sport. He’s got one eye on his Williams, and another on a different seat. His qualifying, his radio messages, his interviews – they all showcase “George Russell” – the driver and the brand, he’s playing it clever and I do love the guy. F1 has so much crazy-awesome young talent right now and I want to see George in decent machinery to see him compete with them. Come on Toto, get that contract out.

  8. Points is pointless for comparing teams and drivers for the lower end teams, since one lucky race can throw everything around. Would be fun with a larger point spread below 10th place so we could actually have teams competing with points and position even down in the bottom.

    1. @maisch – completely correct. As you say, if points were awarded all the way down the grid, they’d mean more. An anomalous result can give a poorer performing driver a massive jump in championship places.

    2. Points are not pointless. They are worth millions in prize money. Back in the day when qually wasnt even on telly no one really knew who was 11 th or 17th on race day, or cared. The commentator used to give you the top 6 and highlight a couple of british trundlers at the back. Mr Saturday or should that be Missis Sunday is the most over rated driver in the paddock. Its the ‘ahh yes you may think Messi is the best player but you dont know about (insert some left back from Osansuna)’.

      He’s nowhere near consistent enough in a race and that one drive in a Mercedes was at a track with virtually no corners. Of course he was going to be close to Bottas. Lets see him in Hungary or Texas.

      Reply moderated
      1. Not only that! no comparable data from previous F1 races!

        This is comparing apples and oranges with the adjuvant of bungled pit stops and mistakes galore!

        It just plays into the heads of LH detractors who say the car is the legend.

  9. Points make prizes.
    No one gets any points for qualifying superiority.

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