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Formula 1

Williams close to committing to Latifi for 2022

by Edd Straw
4 min read

Williams CEO Jost Capito says it “looks like” Nicholas Latifi will remain at the team for the 2022 Formula 1 season.

Latifi joined Williams last year and has a contract that is understood to cover next season, although earlier in the year there were suggestions that he could part company with the team.

Williams is still waiting on Mercedes announcing its decision of driver for next season, with George Russell looking increasingly likely to take the second seat alongside Lewis Hamilton. It is set to announce its full 2022 line-up in one hit, but it appears Latifi’s place is now assured.

Capito talked up Latifi’s contribution to the team during a press conference between FP1 and FP2 of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend while discussing his drive to sixth place in the last race in Hungary.

When asked if this pointed towards a 2022 contract for Latifi, Capito said “yeah, looks like [it] I would say”.

Latifi declared himself “100%” ready to lead Williams should Russell move to Williams next season yesterday.

“I agree with him – maybe not yet, but he is improving race by race and I’m sure by the end of the season, he is ready to do that,” said Capito when asked if he agreed with Latifi’s claim.

Nicholas Latifi

“Especially his personality is in the right spot to lead the team. He works very well with the engineers, he is very motivational, he is very clear in his direction [of] where he wants a car to develop and he is very much liked by the team. And he is demanding.

“Also he learned a lot with George as they work together, they spend a lot of time together on and off the track.

“So it’s a fantastic relationship and I’m sure by end of the season he will be in that position that he can lead the team.”

With Sergio Perez’s place confirmed at Red Bull for 2022 and the AlphaTauri line-up of Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda set to remain unchanged, Williams is one of a number of teams whose driver news will follow the Mercedes choice being made public.

Capito reiterated that Williams is not in a rush to finalise its driver line-up given the number of options available to it.

“At the moment, we are not worried about our situation and we will take the decision sooner or later,” said Capito. “I believe it will be sooner.

“The Williams seat seems to be a very attractive seat for every driver who hasn’t got the fixed seat for next year.

Nicholas Latifi Williams Belgian Grand Prix 2021

“As most of the seats are fixed for next year, I think we can lean back and wait for the decision and when the decision is taken, we can get into more detailed discussion with various drivers.”

Recently-crowned Formula E world champion Nyck de Vries is widely tipped to join Williams if Russell’s departure is confirmed, although the team has evaluated a multitude of options while considering its alternatives. Alpine junior Guanyu Zhou and experienced Aston Martin reserve Nico Hulkenberg were among those who were considered, and Williams is also expected to be among Valtteri Bottas’s options if he is dropped by Mercedes.

Capito stressed that the priority is to choose the driver who has the right personality and spirit for the Williams team as it hopes to work its way back up the F1 grid.

“There are different options and different strategies,” said Capito when asked by The Race what the key criteria were in terms of whether the driver needed experience or if a rookie would fit in.

“It could be an advantage to have an experienced driver and it could be an advantage to have a rookie.

“But we are looking into the various options, drivers who have a lot of experience, drivers who have some experience and drivers who have no experience.

“And it’s not just the experience, it’s also the personality and the spirit to join Williams.

“Where Williams is now, I think we are are improving and we have ambitious objectives for the years to come.

“The most important is we have a driver with the spirit to support Williams on the way Williams wants to go.

“That’s more important than experience or no experience.”

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