Ex-Williams F1 driver Latifi calls time on racing to pursue business career

2023 F1 season

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Former Formula 1 driver Nicholas Latifi has announced his retirement from racing at the age of 28.

Latifi, who raced for Williams from 2020 to 2022, revealed he is studying for an “MBA” – commonly a ‘Master of Business Administration’ degree.

Over three seasons in F1 Latifi scored points three times and peaked with seventh place in the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix. His highest qualifying position was 10th, achieved three times.

Latifi said he dismissed thoughts of racing elsewhere this year after losing his seat to Logan Sargeant and decided to change careers instead.

Nicholas Latifi, Williams, Red Bull Ring, 2020
Latifi made his grand prix debut in 2020
“I decided very early on in the year that I wouldn’t have any racing plans for 2023,” Latifi explained on social media. “It definitely felt very strange not having the same routine I’d been in for over half my life. Knowing that I wouldn’t be behind the wheel of a race car this year, I had obviously begun to think of what could be next for me, whether that involved racing or something completely different.

“I decided that for the immediate future, I wanted to take some time and pursue a different avenue and focus on another path.

“Growing up, I always had a keen interest in the world of business, and I always said it was something I would’ve studied at university had I not gone the racing route. With that in mind, and knowing I might be taking a break from racing, I decided that I want to pursue an MBA degree and focus on something that would transform the next phase of my life.”

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Latifi said he had long considered taking his career in a different direction. His father Michael is a successful businessman who bought a stake in McLaren five years ago.

Nicholas Latifi, Williams, Hungaroring, 2021
Seventh in Hungary in 2021 was his best finish
“An MBA was always something that I had contemplated doing post-racing life, even if that had been into my late 30s and early 40s,” said Latifi.

“Making the decision early on in the year that an MBA was what I wanted to pursue, I began devoting my time to researching business schools and seeing which ones would be a good fit, preparing an application for them, and studying for the GMAT (a test required by most business schools to go along with your application). This was not an easy process and took many months. Anyone who has experienced the journey of applying to a business school knows how difficult it can be.

“After a five-month journey from starting the process, I am pleased to say that my candidacy was accepted for a place in the MBA program at London Business School (LBS), which I will be starting in August of this year.”

He acknowledged his decision “may seem surprising to a lot of people”, having spent his youth working up the junior formulae to gain a place in F1. “Transitioning to a different racing category might have seemed the most obvious move,” said Latifi.

“However, I knew there would always be a life post-racing at some point, and I decided that now might be a good time to prepare myself for that. This is not necessarily a goodbye to the racing world forever. Racing has been my life since the age of 13 and is still something I am extremely passionate about. I haven’t missed watching an F1 race yet this season. However, I felt like this year was the right time to explore and pursue other avenues in my life.

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“I’m very much looking forward to this next adventure and want to thank everyone who has supported me throughout my career thus far. I hope I can continue to have your support as I take some time to pursue a different path.”

Nicholas Latifi, Williams, Yas Marina, 2022
He made his final start at Yas Marina last year
At the start of his car racing career, Latifi won in the Italian Formula 3 championship and then stepped down to Formula Abarth to race in the Florida Winter Series. He won four times against two of his future F1 rivals, but once he returned to F3 he struggled to impress and it took over three years before he became a victor again, doing so in Formula 2.

Latifi spent five years in F1’s primary feeder series, culminating in a 2019 season in which he won three of the first five races and was runner-up to Nyck de Vries in the championship. Following that Latifi became a test driver for the Renault and Force India F1 teams. He joined Williams in 2019 and was promoted up to a race seat with them the year after.

In 2021 he revealed he had been targeted by abuse and received death threats on social media after he crashed out of the season finale at Yas Marina, prompting the Safety Car period which swung the outcome of that year’s world championship.

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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31 comments on “Ex-Williams F1 driver Latifi calls time on racing to pursue business career”

  1. F1 tail-ender to business leader. That’s some journey, man.

    1. Damn autocorrect

    2. Many racers pursued that road, Niki Lauda and many others who settled in Monaco. Not necessarily went for MBA but definitely the road of business

    3. Diniz career path.

  2. I wondered where he’d been or what he’d been doing since the last Abu Dhabi GP, noting that he hasn’t done any racing this year thus far.
    However, I didn’t quite expect him to quit racing altogether in his late-20s, although Jolyon Palmer also stopped active racing relatively soon after his F1 career ended for good & he was 26 at the time.
    Probably a wise move for Latifi, nevertheless, & I’m looking forward to seeing whether his name shows up somewhere in the future in his new career route choice.

    1. Yep, time to take over the reigns of those bullions and trust funds.

      1. His father probably urged him to stop with the racing fun and now get serious so he could have a successor one day. Seems like an expected path for him given his family circumstances.

  3. Ahhh – the “World of Business”

    The perfect hiding place for wealthy brats who couldn’t even make a bed.

    1. … but usually can made some millions (sometimes even billions) and pay other people for making their beds.

  4. José Lopes da Silva
    18th July 2023, 18:51

    He left a mark in the History of Motorsport (at least in Abu Dhabi’s wall)

  5. Isn’t he racing in wec?

  6. Busyness people will be impressed by his back story. Beating George Russell to his first points in F1 sounds pretty good.

  7. A lot of salty comments but I wish him well and hope he finds fulfilment in his new life.

    Despite being considered a backmarker, I think it still takes a lot of dedication and effort to even get into F1 these days. It’s not like before where you had Jean-Denis Deletraz (lapped 10 times in a race with no prior downforce single seater car experience) or Roy Nissany’s father (12.9 seconds slower than P1 in his only practise session).

    He may have not been the best driver on the F1 grid but to qualify roughly within 0.5 – 0.8 to George Russell, a GP winner, means he can’t be that bad. At the moment that’s probably where Perez is against Verstappen this year! It’s certainly way better than what I manage against professional drivers on iRacing anyway and that’s without all the real pressure and psychological stress that pro race drivers have to deal with.

    The dedication to his craft and the mindset he’s picked up in his racing career should hopefully stand him in good stead in his future career.

    1. The problem with Chanoch Nissany was that the car had to much grip.

  8. In his long-form interviews, Latifi comes across as a good guy, which speaks well of not just him but his parents too.

    He had good fun racing in his 20s. The guy even made it to F1 and, whatever else is true, he didn’t embarrass himself. He never really got to grips with the 2022 car, but was way closer to Russell in 2021 than many expected.

    Sure, his family’s fortune helped him get places others couldn’t. But on the flip side, so many people in similar circumstances can’t think of anything better to do than muck around at some student fraternity while their dad’s alumni donations earn them their passing grades.

    Good for Nicholas!

    1. They all seem like good guys in those official podcast interviews, and in most media as well. It’s meant to promote F1, without asking real questions or even being neutral about it. All I remember from his interview is how he claimed to be a fast driver, more or less as fast as Russel, but he always had bad luck or worse car etc. He seemed quite dillusional to me. Similar story to Lance Stroll, whom I also hope to see in “business” instead of F1. That kind of nepotism at least won’t spoil the sport for me, and it makes sense.

  9. Hope it works out for him. Obviously not the most talented in F1 but many sportspeople struggle to find work after their 30s/40s so it’s good to see he’s got his future sorted.

    I wonder would his Williams salary have been enough to sustain him for the rest of his life (probably not?)

    1. He’s a billionaire (well, his dad is). He was paying to drive Don’t worry about that.

      1. Yes he is, but also I don’t think the bulk of his income during his racing years came from a salary, it must have been image right royalties and PR payments (which are tangential and not the core of a racing job).

  10. Good for him.

    Although having some heir to a business empire focusing on getting better at doing business is kind of a not newsworthy item, IMO.

  11. Why the hate for this guy? Most fans who have ever encountered him rave about his respectful demeanor and approachable nature. His reputation amongst the other drivers as a human being was great. Without his father’s investment Williams, a beloved historic team more than likely would have disappeared from the grid, as at that time there was less appetite for capital investment into F1 (prior to the current boom). Sure he wasn’t a great driver, but is this all related to him committing the unforgivable sin of being born into a family with means?

    1. @spencer Couldn’t have said it better myself. He did what any of us would’ve tried to do in his situation, seems like a nice guy and was never actually that slow (he struggled in his last season, okay).

      It’s worth remembering the bag of bits Williams was when he arrived. F1 has certainly seen far slower, nefarious and just horrible characters pass through its corridors. I wish Nic all the best.

      And heck he’s gone on to education, of all the things to do with your life, thats not a bad one.

    2. A lot of hate for him, even death threats (!), have sparked after his crash in Abu Dhabi that ultimately decided the championship in 2021. Ofcourse, none of it his fault, but just shows that you can never fully understand people’s hate or mental status.

  12. TeddyMalone
    19th July 2023, 5:45

    Well, i wasnt one of the 20 „chosen“ on earth for an F1 Career. None of us. He raced in F1 and he scores points. His pace was mostly within 2 seconds to the best. Thats, if you think about, quite good. So, all the best for him- he achieved something of which millions of people can only dream about

  13. How can he do an MBA in one of the prestigious schools in the world without a University degree? You need 3 years of experience plus a Bachelors degree to be considered as a candidate. He was either busy studying and working hard alongside his F1 career or he is doing a license course rather than an MBA at LBS.

    1. Or maybe, just maybe, he’s got connections.

    2. @alberto The amount of MBA courses that get advertised to me stating I can apply (and I don’t have a degree either) would suggest that your information is incorrect

    3. Doesn’t seem to be a requirement (which might be why he chose this one, which would be fair enough). According to the London Business School’s own MBA FAQ, they do consider applicants without a degree or work experience:

      “We are happy to consider non-graduates who have an excellent career record.”

      “Admission may be granted to candidates with less than three years work experience if they can demonstrate superior academic credentials and truly outstanding evidence of leadership through professional and personal experiences.”

      “We also welcome applications from people who have worked in the public sector/government. Some of our students have less typical backgrounds – we have had doctors, vets, an opera singer, a theatre director and even an NFL football player.”

  14. Tim (@tsgoodchild)
    19th July 2023, 9:11

    I’m sure he will have a few options to the question, “tell me about a time when you have worked under pressure”. Nice chap, perhaps too nice for F1, won’t be surprised if he turns up on the F1 circuit again but from a managerial position.

  15. Good luck Nicholas, I’ll never forget what you did for F1. You took a race from anticlimax to completely unforgettable in the blink of an eye. And I’m not even being sarcastic here.

  16. some racing fan
    20th July 2023, 4:38

    Hmmm. The butt of insanely cruel but unfortunately accurate jokes goes down the career almost anyone could do: business. The term itself is vague.

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