2021 F1 driver rankings #18: Nicholas Latifi

  • F1 News

Nicholas Latifi attained unexpected notoriety – and with it, appalling and unwarranted vilification – for his role in triggering the controversial Safety Car period which decided the 2021 world championship.

Nicholas LatifiBeat team mate in qualifying2/22Beat team mate in race3/17Races finished19/22Laps spent ahead of team mate186/1094Qualifying margin+0.34sPoints7

That came about when Latifi spun into a wall on his 51st lap while pursuing Mick Schumacher. The Haas driver had found his way past the quicker Williams, and not for the first time in 2021.

Schumacher got the better of him earlier in the year as well. Latifi fell behind him at the third round in Portugal, and was out-qualified by the Haas in Spain. For a second-year driver, being occasionally shown the way by a rookie in a less competitive machine was far from ideal.

Latifi’s stumbling start to the season also included an early retirement at Imola where he went off on the first lap and tangled with the other Haas of Nikita Mazepin as he rejoined. But after a tricky few opening races Latifi fared somewhat better over the following rounds.

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Russell usually showed Latifi the way at WilliamsHe was, however, consistently in the shadow of the other Williams driver. Latifi’s deficit to George Russell came as no surprise given the gulf between them last year. Though to his credit he chipped away at the gap to his highly-rated, Mercedes-bound team mate and even managed to qualify ahead on rare occasions towards the end of the year. Whether or not this was aided by Russell using more aggressive strategies, it was a feat which seemed highly unlikely 12 months ago.

While Russell drew ever closer to ending Williams’ wait for a point in France and the two Austrian races, Latifi lagged further back. He was unlucky to pick up a penalty in Azerbaijan, but at the Austrian Grand Prix he copped a 30 second sanction for failing to slow sufficiently for yellow flags.

Silverstone was better for him, then in Hungary he capitalised on a stroke of fortune to lead Russell home as the team took seventh and eighth places….

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