Williams have confirmed they will part company at the end of the 2022 Formula One season. The Canadian driver’s contract has expired and the Grove based team are expected to shortly announce Latifi’s replacement. The team’s title sponsor Sofina is owned by Latifi’s father and has been providing the team with $40m a year income. No comment is yet available on whether Sofina will be replaced.
Williams F1 in their heyday delivered 7 driver world champions from 1980 with Alan Jones through to 1997 with another Canadian Jacques Villeneuve. Keke Rosberg, Nelson Piquet, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill all became F1 champions for Williams.
A Williams statement just posted says:
Nicholas made his Formula 1 debut with Williams Racing at the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix and has so far made 55 Grand Prix starts, scoring 7 championship points, including his debut points scoring finish at the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix.
After confirming that Alex Albon will continue for next year and beyond, Williams Racing will announce its full 2023 driver line-up in due course.
Nicholas Latifi: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at Williams Racing – all the people back at the factory and those I work with trackside – for the last three years. My initial F1 debut was postponed due to the pandemic but we eventually got going in Austria and, although we have not achieved the results together we hoped we would, it’s still been a fantastic journey.
Getting those first points in Hungary last year was a moment I’ll never forget, and I will move onto the next chapter of my career with special memories of my time with this dedicated team. I know none of us will stop putting in every effort until the end of the season.”
Latifi failed to deliver
The problem for Latifi was he was up against future F1 start George Russell. In his debut season 2020, Latifi didn’t score a point and in 2021 scored just 7 to Russell’s 16.
This year, Williams have used 3 drivers. Due to Alex Albon’s illness in Monza, Nyck De Vries stepped in for his F1 debut and scored points, leaving Latifi bottom of the 2022 Williams drivers scores.
This was perhaps the writing on the wall for the Canadian
Franz Tost commented earlier this week when announcing Yuki Tsunoda was being retained for a 3rd season, “As I always say, a driver needs at least three years to fully get to grips with Formula One, so I’m pleased he’s been given the time to show his full potential.”
Well Latifi’s 3 year’s are up and the team principal of Williams bids him farewell.
Jost Capito, CEO and Team Principal: “On behalf of the whole team, I would like to say an enormous thank you to Nicholas for his three years of hard work with Williams. He is a great team player who has a great attitude towards his colleagues and work and is well liked and respected throughout the business.
Our time together is now coming to an end, but I know he will put full effort in to maximise what we can do together for the remainder of this season. We wish him all the very best of luck for his future, both in and out of the cockpit.”
Latifi played a high profile role in the 2021 season decider in Abu Dhabi when he crashed his Williams close to the end of the race. The resulting safety car saw Verstappen pit for fresh tyres and pass Lewis Hamilton on the final racing lap to deny the Brit an 8th World Title.
The Canadian received a huge amount of abuse on social media and decided over the winter break to switch it all off.
Williams boss Capito believes the events of Abu Dhabi have continued to haunt Latifi this season.
“It was extremely hard, I think that’s hard for absolutely everybody and I think everybody who didn’t go through this has no idea how that feels,” he said.
“So even if you switch then your social media off, you are in contact with other people who still see it and it’s going on, and you just can’t get away.
“I think that was also a part of why it took him quite a while this season to find his competitiveness. I’m sure it affected his driving after that, it would have affected my driving a lot, I am absolutely convinced about this.
“So I can understand that and this is why we gave him the confidence and supported him all the season.”
As expected for a while, so entirely unsurprising.