With his Formula 1 debut on hold, Nicholas Latifi says he’s not nervous as it feels as if his Williams promotion is a continuation of last year’s work.
Last season Latifi was Williams’ test and reserve driver, the Canadian doing that job along with his Formula 2 commitments.
He took part in six Friday practice sessions while also spending time in the FW42 during in-season tests.
This year he has been promoted to race driver, replacing Robert Kubica as George Russell’s new team-mate.
Latifi put in the laps in the new FW43 during pre-season testing but will have to wait until at least mid-June to turn a lap in anger as the Formula 1 season is on hold.
So too his official debut.
“I would say there are not really any nerves at the moment,” said the 24-year-old.
“I’ve kind of said that from already starting winter testing as the official race driver, for me it just felt like a continuation of the work I was doing with the team last year.
“I was already really comfortable in the team environment.
“To be honest, all the stuff that made it feel a bit more like I was the race driver was all the external – all the media, the fan interactions, it’s just at so much more of a higher level.
“Right now everything is still calm. Maybe once I’m waiting on the grid and the lights are about to go out, that’s probably when I’m going to notice.”
Latifi is confident Williams has taken a step forward with the FW43 but whether that will be enough to move them off the bottom of the timesheets remains to be seen.
Williams made the biggest gains of all the teams when last year’s Barcelona testing times are compared to this year’s.
The team improved by over a second per lap.
Latifi said: “It’s definitely a step forward.
“It’s difficult to quantify how much, because it’s always the same in winter testing, you never really know what people are doing with engine modes and fuel levels.
“But just from my first feeling in the car it was definitely much nicer to drive, giving the driver much more confidence to push and attack the corners, which is what you want.
“We’re optimistic it definitely is a step forward but we’re just going to have to wait and see just how much.”