Nicholas Latifi, Williams, Monza, 2022

2022 F1 driver rankings #20: Nicholas Latifi

2022 F1 driver rankings

Posted on

| Written by

Stepping into carbon-fibre rocketships to do battle at over 320kph over 22 weekends makes Formula 1 drivers some of the bravest athletes on the planet.

It does not, however, require any bravery, nerve or gumption to declare Nicholas Latifi as the worst-performing driver of the 2022 F1 season.

Latifi’s adventure at motorsport’s highest level appears to have reached its conclusion at the end of his third F1 campaign. It’s not hard to see why.

He was regularly the slowest of his peers, albeit in what was usually the slowest car. He committed the most bewildering blunders. Driving into Zhou Guanyu when the Alfa Romeo driver pulled alongside him in Singapore. In a wet Monaco, he crashed on the formation lap, pitted for a new front wing, then ran off the track at Sainte Devote and fell even further behind the rest of the pack. At Suzuka he mistook a shortcut which forms its short track variant before the final chicane, earning millions of video views and ruthless mockery.

Nicholas Latifi and a fan, Williams, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2022
Latifi bore jibes at his driving with good humour
His exploits saw his status as an ironic joke character among online F1 fandom grow through the season, no matter if his competency behind the wheel was superior to many other drivers that could be recalled from the long history of F1.

In truth, Latifi was spinning his tyres from the very beginning of the season. New team mate Alex Albon rocked up after a year out and stuck his car 14th on the grid in Bahrain, while Latifi qualified 20th and last. Jeddah, just a week later, was woeful. Crashing out in Q1 was bad, but not a disaster. His unforced race-ending error the day after, however, was one of the more embarrassing moments of the season.

It became clear that Latifi just couldn’t match what Albon was doing with the car. As Albon sniped points in Melbourne, Miami and then at Spa-Francorchamps, Latifi only finished inside the top 15 once over the same span of races.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Monza was always going to be his best chance of points given the slippery nature of the Williams with its high top speed. This was his big opportunity – a chance to fight for the outside chance of a point. Instead, Albon fell ill and was replaced on the Saturday by Nyck de Vries.

Gutsy tyre gamble paid off for Latifi at Suzuka
Instead the last-minute F1 debutant immediately out-qualified the team’s regular driver. Not only that, De Vries held position on the opening lap while his team mate dropped four places, and finished ninth while Latifi came home 15th. If it wasn’t already over for Latifi, it certainly was now.

It wouldn’t be true to suggest Latifi’s season was without any highlights. He headed to Silverstone without the shiny new upgrades offered to his team mate, but in a rain-affected qualifying session he didn’t just squeeze through into Q2 at the expense of Albon, he took it one step further by reaching Q3 for the first time in his career. Yes, he may have spun off into the gravel during Q3 which ensured he would start tenth, but it was still an achievement to be proud of.

At Suzuka, again in wet conditions, Latifi took a gamble on an early switch to intermediate tyres and then kept his car on the track over the final 20 laps to cling onto ninth place and secure his first and only points finish of the season. But after getting lost in Friday practice, he could not even enjoy his best result of 2022 without being the butt of jokes.

At this point his impending departure was already public knowledge, but the mishap just seemed to sum up the perception of Latifi as a driver that had built up over his three years in F1. Facing the reality of being out of a drive for next year and likely the rest of his career, Latifi admitted that this third season had probably been his worst when he needed to produce his best.

But despite having likely raced his last grand prix, Latifi leaves the sport knowing that, at the very least, he does so with the respect of his former team and his peers on the grid.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2022 F1 season

Browse all 2022 F1 season articles

Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

39 comments on “2022 F1 driver rankings #20: Nicholas Latifi”

  1. The least controversial placing this year I’d guess. Utterly forgettable year for him.

    1. Yeah, I seriously doubt anyone who follows F1 will disagree with this one @slowmo

      1. Sorry he has the 21th spot not the 20th deVries has the same amount and a higher start then latiffi and less rounds then Latiffi for those points.

        1. To be fair this is for permanent drivers rather then one race stand ins, but can’t argue that DeVries simply did far better then Latifi, who was more or less just making up the numbers.

      2. Agree. It’s hard to vote for anything but last when you get so badly demolished by a driver who has just entered the team. He was slow and crash prone, which is the worst combination you can ask for. He did really pull something out of the bag on the British GP weekend though.. so there was at least one highlight in his miserable season.

    2. Latifi was often the slowest driver on the grid this season.

      However: he was also in the slowest car, often by quite a margin, and his car was frequently fitted with outdated parts compared to his teammate. Considering that both Russell and Albon were regarded as solid picks for the two best teams in F1, Latifi has not embarrassed himself with his, admittedly weaker, performances. He has also not done anything that cost his team a lot of money (this will no doubt come up in the article about Schumacher). Latifi on the whole is not a bad driver. He will do quite well if he continues racing in other categories and in a team that isn’t constantly trying to save money.

      As for ranking him 20th, did he really perform worse with what he had than Ricciardo?

      1. I guess that’s a somewhat solid point MichaelN in that it is hard to judge what someone could have done in a faster (or slower, when looking at the top) car, and given these lists usually end up with a largely back-low rating to front-high rating slant, I am not quite certain they take it into account enough.

        Even so, we do see those who manage to impress with feats in slower cars (with a series of ‘one-off’ definitely showing promise) climb up to the midfield of these lists, and I quite wouldn’t say Latifi belongs there based on either of the last two years. Would you have a notably different rating for him, and if so, based on which feats? I’d be interesting to hear.

        1. Definitely agree @bosyber that you don’t need a top car to make a promising impression; plenty of drivers have done so – of the current drivers Alonso did so perhaps most notably in the 2001 Minardi – and Latifi didn’t do anything that made people take notice; even in his two better seasons.

          His two stand-out performances this season are probably the weekends in England and, ironically given his mishap in practice, Japan. He had a few other good starting positions in Belgium and Monza mostly due to penalties, but he got himself in to Q3 at Silverstone, and even more surprisingly, only dropped back to 12th in the race less than 10 seconds from the points. That’s not a lot of notable races in such a long season, so it’s not a huge surprise he was dropped from the team and not picked up by anyone else.

          Latifi seems a fair pick for 19th, because there probably isn’t a great case that he did better than Schumacher or rookie Zhou. But given the cars at their disposal, and the efforts made by the teams to help them, I don’t see how Latifi did any worse than Ricciardo, who I’d rank 20th and last. The gap between Norris and Ricciardo was by all metrics huge, but the McLaren was so good that it still allowed Ricciardo a couple of points finishes. It was nevertheless one of the most lopsided teammate battles in many years.

      2. As for ranking him 20th, did he really perform worse with what he had than Ricciardo?”

        I’d say yes considering how badly De Vries showed what he could be doing in that car. Daniel at least had some days where he finished behind Norris.

        1. If anything in front of norris!

  2. I agree with the placing. And I would add: he showed himself to be a very decent sort, and for that at least will be missed.

  3. I do not agree, he should be 21.

  4. I had actually forgotten about the Suzuka short circuit ‘short cut’ incident. We all make mistakes, but that was one I’ve not seen before.

    Even driving around a circuit I don’t know for the first time in a video game I don’t think I’ve done it.

    Obviously it happens in rallying, but circuit racing where he knows the track?

    It’s probably worth remembering that for a while his money kept the lights on at Williams whilst only being a few tenths off Russell. But this season has obviously been a disaster.

  5. How long did you have those first two sentences prepared Will!

    I think this year’s rankings will be a bit more predictable in terms of what drivers were clearly above the rest, and vice versa. Latifi at 20th is no surprise, in the same manner that Verstappen is almost certainly going to be 1st. Still looking forward to seeing the arguments for everyone in between though! I’ve got my popcorn prepared in advance for Mick Schumacher’s article :D

    1. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see ricciardo 19th, and maybe, less certain, leclerc 2nd.

      1. I don’t think any mainstream source will place Ricciardo in the bottom tier. He has been poor, but he has also scored quite a few points, he was even driver of the day in Mexico (after he got away with punting Tsunoda off, which everyone forgot about as soon as it happened…)

        He’ll be around 15th I reckon.

        1. Ricciardo was 19th even in the first half if I recall, and as you can see, he is indeed 19th in the full season!

    2. @ciaran I think positions 2-6 probably containing Ham, Rus, Alo, Nor, Lec (in no particular order) will be quite hard to call. Rankings lower down are usually also hard to call because we don’t pay as much attention to their performances week in week out, and often their results don’t reflect those performances.

  6. Honestly, out of the other 19 nobody stands out as badly as Latifi. I would expect Ricciardo, Zhou, and Schumacher to be in contention for the bottom few places.

    1. With that said, only Ricciardo is the one I really felt drove a weak campaign overall.

  7. The worst driver on the grid but also one of the nicest personalities. I will never forget his touching farewell speech to Claire and Frank Williams over the team radio in Monza 2020.

    1. I think it’s also fair to say the current grid is pretty decent, and I think he could still have a career in sportscars or something. We’ve seen a lot worse worst drivers of the year in F1. Even pay drivers like Stroll are capable of grabbing podiums on their day.

      1. We’ve seen a lot worse worst drivers of the year in F1

        Agree. If we were to take the 20th ranked drivers out of the last 20 seasons (assuming Racefans has been around for last 20 years and has done driver rankings for all such seasons), Latifi would rank in the top quartile of those 20.

        1. Racefans has been around since 2005. In that time, the worst-ranked drivers have been:

          2005 – Takuma Sato
          2006 – Yuji Ide
          2007 – Christijan Albers
          2008 – Nelson Piquet Jr
          2009 – Luca Badoer (and Piquet was unranked)
          2010 – Sakon Yamamoto
          2011 – Karun Chandhok (but Karthikeyan of regular drivers)
          2012 – Narain Karthikeyan
          2013 – Max Chilton
          2014 – Max Chilton
          2015 – Pastor Maldonado
          2016 – Rio Haryanto
          2017 – Jolyon Palmer
          2018 – Sergey Sirotkin
          2019 – Robert Kubica
          2020 – Nicholas Latifi
          2021 – Nikita Mazepin
          2022 – Nicholas Latifi

          If we were to rank these by the performances of the drivers in the season they were ranked lowest (so taking 2019 Kubica rather than peak Kubica, for example), I would rank 2020 Latifi near the very top, although 2022 wouldn’t be so high, he did have a terrible season. Piquet in 2008 and Maldonado in 2015 would perhaps be towards the top but I think they were harshly ranked last (I would have had Merhi there in 2015, and in 2008 the Super Aguri drivers weren’t included). The worst driver on the list is, of course, Yuji Ide who the team were politely asked to remove, with Nikita Mazepin probably second considering how far behind Schumacher he was, and Mick only lasted one more year. Then Yamamoto, Karthikeyan, Chilton, Haryanto and Kubica from 2019 were just extremely slow, Palmer was a little better, as was Albers who had a poor season in 2007 compared to before, and I would put 2022 Latifi in this bracket. Sirotkin I think was a little better than these drivers, and would put Latifi from 2020 on a similar level to him. Sato was okay in general, but awful in 2005. And Badoer raced only twice in 2009 and was terrible, but hadn’t raced in Formula 1 for ten years and was a decent driver in the late 1990s.

    2. A very fair assessment. He’s taken all the Goatifi “banter” on the chin and acknowledged that he has finished his F1 stint with a weak season. Many drivers don’t have the strength to do that.

  8. I think Latifi’s error in in suzuka is being made in to far too bigger deal. In the race that mattered, he actually was excellent for a change.

  9. There were 22 drivers in 2022.

  10. Edit: #22…

  11. People keep talking about this Verstappen fellow, but Latifi was in a league of his own too.

    1. If the two had been swapped, would he have beaten Perez? You know, one of them would have become WDC in that car.

      1. Perez finished 3rd in the WDC.. so in all likelihood, neither Red Bull driver would have been WDC.

        1. Depends how much Horner and Marko likes them. Red Bull has proven time and again they can make a great car, but like Honda in MotoGP they seem uninterested in making it work for more then one rider/driver.

        2. More things would have changed, from not having the car designed for their team mate (unless the other one was favoured) to not having to place second fiddle in strategy (same proviso).

          Either way, the car was the deciding factor.

  12. Latifi never felt like he was doing more then making up the numbers. Few exceptional moments, few horrendous moments, he was simply there.

  13. He was rubbish this season but the thing is, he wasn’t that bad in his first two seasons. I think he actually fared quite well against Russell although the latter was obviously faster. This season has been by far Latifi’s worst, which makes us forget his first two years. Three years in F1 is enough for him but overall he wasn’t imo as bad as this season makes us believe.

  14. Unsurprising & fully deserved ranking.

  15. some racing fan
    8th December 2022, 22:42

    I mean this is totally predictable, especially with all the cruel jokes labelling Latifi as the GOAT

  16. How many times did he qualify in 20th or finished the race in last of the runners? More time than Verstappen got poles or won?

  17. 20th? And who was 21th? did i miss something?
    Even de Vries beat him.

Comments are closed.