Jost Capito talks high of Nicholas Latifi as he hints on retaining the Canadian at Williams for the 2022 F1 season.
A month after Hungaroring, the teams were back in action at Spa-Francorchamps. It looked like Williams got their best result since 2019 with a double points finish in Hungary, but little was predicted that they could topple with another one in Belgium.
Not only that, they even secured a podium finish via George Russell, while Latifi ended up in points as well. Over the last few races Russell had been knocking on the door of the Top 10 and had been frequently unlucky, while the Canadian seemed to step up too.
Hungaroring was a strategic race, helped by the first corner mayhem, while Belgium was pure luck via qualifying results. Nevertheless, the former showed matured drive by Latifi, which he reckons will raise his chances to retain his Williams F1 seat in 2021.
And it could have done so too, as per Williams F1 chief Capito, who gave us his thoughts and opinion on Latifi’s drive. “I wouldn’t say I was impressed because I know his capabilities and he did a fantastic race and he has done fantastic races in the past,” he said. “It is impressive but I was not impressed because I know what I can expect of him.
“He is rarely doing any mistakes and when you are following him racing and he completely is very capable on doing what his race engineers tell him to do and what kind of lap times he could achieve, and, and he is a very good race driver and he deserves the seat in our team, definitely,” summed up Capito.
Separately, Latifi had said to the media that should Russell move out, he feels he can step up to the challenge of team leader and Capito agrees with the Canadian. “I agree with him,” he said. “I think he is…maybe not now, yet, but he is really improving race by race and I’m sure by the end of the season he is ready to do that, 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, where he wants a car to develop and he is very much liked by the team and he is demanding so I think 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, so I’m, sure by the end of the season Nicky will be in that position that he can lead the team,” summed up Capito.
From that statement, particularly the latter part, it appears that Williams think highly of Latifi and have a contingency plan for 2022 should Russell go. Sticking with Canadian, Capito was asked if that is a hint that he is staying, and he responded with, “yeah, looks like, I would say.”
With the announcement from Kimi Raikkonen to retire, it opens up a seat at Alfa Romeo, which is speculated to get in the hands of Valtteri Bottas, after Russell replaces him at Mercedes. If Latifi is retained, the second seat at Williams has seen rumours with both Nyck de Vries and also Alexander Albon.
The story was written by Neil Farell
Here’s news from Kimi Raikkonen
Here’s George Russell about his F1 podium
Here’s last from Toto Wolff