Nicholas Latifi will finally be a fully-fledged Formula 1 driver once he makes his debut in Austria at a track that is very familiar to him.
The Canadian is the only rookie on the 2020 grid and has been patiently waiting to make his first appearance for the Williams team after being announced as Robert Kubica’s replacement in late 2019.
And, with a combination of track experience and a reduction in off-track duties with only a select number of media allowed within the Formula 1 paddock, Latifi thinks everything is in place for him to have an easier debut compared to the challenge that he was originally facing in Australia.
“What should help me is the fact that Austria is a track I know well,” Latifi said via Motorsport Week.
“It’s the only one I’ve competed at every year since I’ve been racing. Australia would have been a new track for me to discover – and it isn’t the easiest.
“Another potential positive is that with fewer media, spectators, partners or sponsors around, I will have more time to focus on the driving.
“So much of a Formula 1 race weekend is taken up by all the other things you have to do besides the driving and engineering stuff. Without so much of it in Austria, I reckon it might be an easier environment.”
However, Latifi still believes Russell will have the upper hand on him for at least the first few races.
“From a results and expectations point of view, at this point in the season it’s too early to predict much, as I really have to see where the car is going to be,” he added.
“I expect my team-mate, George [Russell], to have an advantage in the early races, as he isn’t a rookie any more, but I want to push him where I can.
“In my first race I’m just going to try and take everything as it comes, step-by-step, and get up to speed quickly.
“I’m under no illusions though. I’m making my F1 race debut and there’s a lot to learn.
“The fact that I’ve had to wait a bit longer than planned doesn’t change anything.”
Williams are still expected to be the slowest team on the grid but deputy team principal Claire Williams thinks the team are in “pretty good shape” heading into the first race of the season.
Formula 1 is almost back! Check out our preview video for the season opener in Austria: