Williams explain late Latifi confirmation

Williams have finally announced Nicholas Latifi as George Russell’s team-mate for 2020, and deputy principal Claire Williams has explained why it took so long in coming.

The Canadian heads into the final round of the F2 season in Abu Dhabi this weekend looking to secure P2 in the standings, and it was Williams’ desire not to distract him from his F2 commitments which was behind their reason for waiting until the Thursday before the Abu Dhabi GP to sign him for 2020.

Latifi has taken part in several FP1 sessions throughout 2019, including the last three FP1’s as he auditioned for the second Williams seat.

“We wanted to afford Nicholas the opportunity to continue the F2 campaign and focus on that rather than being distracted by any earlier kind of announcement,” Claire Williams is quoted by Crash.net.

“But it probably was an inevitability and one that we’re really delighted about, and we’re really looking forward to seeing how Nicholas does next year.

“He’s been a fantastic part of the team this year as our reserve driver. He’s done a number of FP1 sessions and test days. He’ll do the test next week for us as well. And I think he just has the right kind of personality as well that we’re looking for in our drivers at Williams.”

Latifi needed to secure a top-five finish in F2 to earn enough superlicence points to step up to F1 in 2020, and this was another major reason why Claire Williams wanted to hold off on any announcement.

“Probably as any other team principal is going to be doing, they’re going to be talking to a handful of drivers and then whittling it down,” she said.

“Then obviously Nicholas stepping up next year was dependent on him achieving the superlicence, so again another reason why the decision was only made at this point of the year to enable him to do that.

“You don’t want to sign a driver until they’ve actually got it, do you? That would be difficult!

“We’re looking forward to him closing out that second position in F2 this weekend as well.”

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Latifi back in the Williams saddle at COTA

Williams reserve driver Nicholas Latifi will be back in the saddle in Texas this week, taking over from George Russell in the US Grand Prix’s first practice session at the Circuit of the Americas.

Latifi will enjoy back-to-back outings with the British outfit having ran last week in FP1 in Mexico City.

“Coming off an FP1 last week I feel that I am more in the rhythm of the car, which is important when you only have a limited number of laps in the session,” the Canadian said.

“Austin in probably one of the tracks on the calendar that I am most looking forward to driving that I have not yet driven.

“It seems like a track that has a bit of everything and the first sector, with all the fast-flowing corners, is exactly what I love in these high downforce cars.

“It’s not so often that I get to drive new tracks for the first time so I’m looking forward to that challenge and hopefully I’ll be able to get up to speed quickly.”

Latifi was satisfied overall with his fourth session with Williams and the contribution he was able to make to the team’s set-up preparations.

“I was pleased with how FP1 went,” the 24-year-old commented on his website.

“It was a clean session and I gathered the data the team needed. It wasn’t possible to compare lap times with George as we were on different run plans.

“I was on quite an old package, as the team is limited with spares, so understandably I didn’t want to risk damage for Robert.

“Considering what I lost in pure performance from the parts I was where I wanted to be, and exactly where the team wanted me to be, so I can take some positivity from that!”

Dave Robson, Williams’ senior race engineer, says the Grove-based outfit will effectively kick start its preparations for next season when it samples, along with its rivals, a couple of set of 2020-spec tyres supplied by Pirelli.

“With the end of the 2019 season almost in sight, we begin in earnest our trackside preparations for 2020 with some additional tyres testing on Friday

“Pirelli have provided each car with 2 sets of tyres in the 2020 construction and so we can expect to see more running than usual during FP1 and FP2 as the teams begin their preparations ahead of the post-season Abu Dhabi tyre test.”

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Latifi ‘looking forward’ to German GP run

Nicholas Latifi will return to Formula 1 action this weekend, replacing Esteban Ocon for the opening practice session in Germany.

The Formula 2 driver will resume his duties with Force India, taking part in his second practice outing for this season following on from his Canadian GP showing.

“Montreal was fantastic, it’s a day I’ll never forget, so I’m really looking forward to getting back in the car for a second FP1 outing at Hockenheim,” Latifi said on his official website.

“Unlike Montreal, Hockenheim is a track I have driven before, and because I’m a bit more used to the car now, I’m feeling relaxed and more comfortable and confident.

“The goal is to do a good job for the team and get the data they need. I want to push along the programme for them as much as possible and build my own experience at the wheel of a Formula 1 car.”

The F1 action comes thick and fast for the Canadian with Force India announcing he will also test for the team on Day One of the post-Hungarian GP test.

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