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How Nicholas Latifi becomes a Formula 1 leader with Williams

At 26, Nicholas Latifi (Williams Racing) finds himself in an unknown situation. The third-year Formula 1 driver enters 2022 as the garage leader.

At least that’s the expectation.

With Lewis Hamilton’s flying winger George Russell departing for Mercedes and 25-year-old Alex Albon returning to an F1 seat after a year spent and analyzed from the sidelines, Latifi will be key in returning Williams to respectability.

Nicholas Latifi claims responsibility for bringing Williams back to F1 relevance

Williams had been irrelevant in F1 for a while. But during the 1990s, no organization was better with different drivers.

Here is a sample of Williams’ dominance in the 1990s:

  • 1997 : Jacques Villeneuve won his first drivers’ title and Williams his ninth constructors’ championship.
  • 1996: Damon Hill took the drivers’ crown and Williams the team title.
  • 1994: Despite the death of driver Ayrton Senna, Williams won the constructors’ crown.
  • 1993: Alain Prost displayed his fourth pilot pennant, then retired.
  • 1992: Nigel Mansell opened the season with five consecutive wins, and he clinched the drivers’ title, also leading the team to the constructors’ championship.

But that was then.

It is now.

Williams finished eighth out of 10 F1 teams in 2021, and team founder Sir Frank Williams has died aged 79.
In 2020, he failed to record a top 10 point for the first time in team history.

From 2004 to 2012, he failed to win a race.

It’s Latif’s time.

Latifi: “Beyond driving, I really need to take on a leadership role”

Nicholas Latifi of Williams drives during final practice ahead of the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on December 11, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates | Dan Istitene – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

Entering his third season with Williams, Latifi has just one top 10 finish, a P7, in 39 career F1 starts. He spent the last two seasons as the organization’s No. 2 driver. Russell was considered a better prospect despite running third-grid in most of his outings.

Latifi understands that the pressure of being a leader is something he will be forced to develop next season. The affable Canadian will be counted on to continue to provide competent technical feedback.

“It’s hard to set targets because you don’t know where the performance of the car will be, so once we see how it’s going it will be easier to do,” he said. says the race,com towards the end of the ’21 campaign. “But beyond driving, I really need to play a leadership role. It’s a new car, a new start, the feedback will be crucial, and it will be something new for me in F1 that I haven’t experienced yet.”

Latifi’s crash on the final stages of the Abu Dhabi GP sparked a series of infamous events

Embracing a leadership role isn’t the only difficult aspect of the offseason that Latifi is experiencing. As Hamilton and Max Verstappen battled for the Drivers’ Championship at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Latifi battled Haas driver Mick Schumacher for 15and place. Latifi crashed, signaling the infamous caution period.

Verstappen took advantage of the break in the race to change tyres. The decision set up his Red Bull Racing machine for a dramatic last-lap overtake by Hamilton, securing his first F1 title. Controversy ensued and Latifi started receiving potentially dangerous messages on social media. Apparently he handled the situation like a leader. He went about his business to prepare for his big test next season.

For Williams to return to relevance, “I have to step into that leadership role and have confidence in my decisions,” he said.

At least that’s the expectation.

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