Despite a change of team mate, Latifi continues to lag at Williams

2022 F1 team mate battles: Latifi vs Albon

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Nicholas Latifi was dealt a tough hand when he made his Formula 1 debut in 2020.

He arrived at a Williams team where George Russell had already made himself well at home, comfortably out-performing Robert Kubica over the course of 2019. And while the team’s FW43 was an improvement over its predecessor – it could hardly have failed to be – it was not a competitive proposition. Then the pandemic struck, disrupting Latifi’s build up to a season in which he was the only newcomer on the grid.

So it was little surprise that Russell showed him the way at first. In 2021 there were some signs of encouragement Latifi had found his form, particularly as he capitalised on a chaotic race in Hungary to deliver a badly-needed points haul. With Russell off to Mercedes and Alexander Albon sliding into the other Williams, this season was Latifi’s chance to demonstrate he deserves a long-term future in F1.

(L to R): Alex Albon, Williams; Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes; Miami International Autodrome, 2022
Albon is the only Williams driver to score points so far

But he hasn’t made good on that opportunity. As F1 reached the summer break, the fact that Latifi remains the only driver to have started every race this season without scoring indicates is telling.

It’s clear that Williams has taken a step backwards with its FW44. The team has had more difficulty escaping Q1 than its rivals.

At the same time, it’s also clear Albon has consistently reached its limits more regularly than Latifi. The qualifying scoreline – 11-1 in Albon’s favour – is the most one-sided in the field at the moment. Albon has consistently led his team mate home on race days too.

Latifi vs Albon race-by-race


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Nicholas Latifi, Williams, Hungaroring, 2022
Updated Williams may suit Latifi better

The British Grand Prix is the only occasion so far where Latifi managed to out-qualify his team mate. On that occasion, Albon was the only one of the pair driving Williams’ heavily updated FW44, and in theory should have been quicker, but with limited set-up time was knocked out in Q1 on a wet track.

Latifi had to make do with the older Williams for two races before getting his hands on the new hardware. It may yet prove to be the uplift his season was waiting for. He clearly lacked confidence in the original car early in the season, a point which came up several times when he spoke to the media.

However it’s widely known Williams was sizing up Oscar Piastri for Latifi’s cockpit until unexpected movements in the driver market presented the opportunity for him to go elsewhere. Latifi joined Williams under the team’s previous management when the backing he brought from his sponsors was badly needed. If the new regime has decided they can do without that, there’s little in his performances this year to make a case for keeping him.

Latifi vs Albon season summary

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Latifi vs Albon qualifying performance

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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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13 comments on “Despite a change of team mate, Latifi continues to lag at Williams”

  1. With Williams continuing to languish at the back as (usually by some margin) the slowest team, and the ownership not seeming to make or plan any big moves, one wonders if they are content to just let Latifi shoulder some of the costs until they sell the team – perhaps coinciding with the new engine regulations to an ‘interested party’. Latifi actually seems to be doing a bit worse compared to Albon than he did to Russell, although I haven’t checked the numbers so it’s not really a solid conclusion.

    From a his point of view, someone like Latifi could have a great run in sportscars or maybe even Indycar. He’s not a bad driver; nobody in F1 is. But why he is so intent on staying in F1, and in the worst team at that, is a bit of a mystery.

    1. José Lopes da Silva
      13th August 2022, 21:38

      For the same reason Lavaggi and Mazzacane did.

  2. Erm, Albon is often mid field.

      1. Russell often shared the track with Latifi, Latifi is nowhere near Albon during most races.

  3. If Williams keep Latifi for another year then to me it’s a clear indication that they are longer a serious racing team. Latifi was brought in purely for his sponsorship and has been trounced by every team mate he has ever had. It amazes me that he still even wants to be in F1, given how poorly he has performed. If dorilton are serious about moving Williams up the grid they have no other option but to invest in another ‘real’ driver, which will in turn help push Albon to greater results.

  4. Worst driver in Formula One now that Nikita Mazepin is gone. The only thing remarkable about Latifi is the size of his ego given his results on the track.

    1. Honestly, Latifi seems quite humble to me.. at least compared to his equally useless, Canadian, son-of-a-billionaire pay driver. There’s no way you can have an ego left after being completely outclassed by your teammate every weekend for over 2 years.

  5. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
    14th August 2022, 9:06

    I was convinced the budget cap would spread the sponsor wealth in F1 and pay drivers would become less of a thing. It may be happening, but slower than I thought. Hope I’m not wrong.

    1. Yes, I agree. Let’s see. Otherwise I feel FIA needs to step in. It is 2022 now and the whole world is advocating inclusion. Drivers paying for their seat is simply not an option anymore. The whole driver situation needs an overhaul imho. I would like to see a mandatory promotion of the F2 champion into F1 for instance. And vice versa I would like to see drivers loosing to their team mate 2 years in a row (or so) be demoted. I am sure there are lots of clever people out there that can come up with a much more fair situation which is far more entertaining as well.

  6. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    14th August 2022, 9:36

    The one thing that I think people ignore is latifi’s race pace last year. While he’s genrally been dreadful this year, he has started to look more comfortable in the past few races. And when with Russell, his race pace was not far off at all in a lot of the races. There were plenty of races where they would keep the same gap, or latifi would slowly catch towards the end of the race.

    There are some opinions we should have of that. Either Russell’s race pace was poor, which also means that Latifi is very poor, or if russell was outstanding as many claimed, Latifi was at least capable of being somewhat decent. The 2nd is what I believe.

    However, he hasn’t been comfortable with the car this year at all, so the gap has been bigger between him and albon than him and russell, despite me thinking russell is far better.

    But I’m going to make a guess that if latifi does get comfortable, he will be very close to albon by the end of the season. And if he gets to the somewhat decent level (for a pay driver that is obviously important for the team), I don’t think it would be the wrong choice to keep him. But if he ends this season like he performed in the first half, I just don’t think he’s good enough.

    I still think people under rate his ability a little though even though I think he is among the worst on the grid. If I’m honest though, if it wasn’t for Schumachers 2 decent results recently, i would say he’s been the worst as he has crashed in the race and other sessions more than latifi and certainly been the most expensive driver by far in terms of repairs.

  7. While the team is rebuilding, it really only needs one fast driver to help with their development.

    If the other driver is “OK” and happens to bring much needed cash for the team’s budget, I don’t see a problem. It would be different if they were up there fighting in the middle of the midfield but they’re not there yet, and they’re not likely to be there this year.

    Sure, he might not be as fast as his team mate, but it’s not like he’s costing the, points because they’re not really in contention for points yet.

    To me, take the $, at least for this year, and use it to develop the car. When you have a better car, then you can start looking for a better driver.

    1. @dbradock totally agree. Take the money for another year, develop the car to start getting at least in the conversation for consistent points position then look at getting a better driver.
      On a separate note, the fact that Williams could not capitalise on the rule change to at least get in that space is deeply worrying imo. Both Haas and Alfa produced really good cars. The fact that Williams could not produce one to hang with those teams from a blank piece of sheet shows potentially more deeply ingrained issues with culture and quality of the people in the team.

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