Latifi rates Russell higher than Ocon and Albon

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George Russell and Nicholas Latifi

Nicholas Latifi says that George Russell, not Esteban Ocon or Alex Albon, is the best team-mate that he’s ever had in his racing career.

The Canadian has been team-mates with Russell since the start of the 2020 campaign and has more often than not been the slower of the two Williams drivers.

Prior to joining the F1 grid, he was team-mates with Ocon in Formula 3 and Albon in Formula 2.

Of the three of them, he says Russell is the best.

“Yeah, I would definitely say so,” he said when asked if Russell was his best team-mate ever on the Beyond the Grid podcast.

“I mean, I think it’s a bit tricky because I’ve had some really strong team-mates, a lot who have been in Formula 1 or currently are in Formula 1, so I’ve got the experience of driving against people with different driving styles, strengths, weaknesses.

“I think naturally though, the latter years of my junior career are the fair benchmark to kind of say how strong a team-mate is because naturally, I feel a better driver than I was, let’s say, in Formula 3 in 2014, team-mates with Esteban.

“Now, in Formula 1, driving against a guy like George… Yeah, I would definitely say he’s probably one of the strongest, if not the strongest, especially over qualifying. Specifically, in qualifying, George is by far the best.

But even in the race, he’s very strong as well. Normally, it’s a bit of one or the other, one might be very very strong in qualifying and one might be stronger in the race, one might be average in both of them but that average is still very good.

“But it’s just all around, he seems to just nail it.”

As Latifi said, Russell’s strength in his time in F1 has been qualifying, with him becoming known as ‘Mr Saturday’ for his excellent performances.

The Canadian says it’s the Brit’s consistency rather than raw pace which is what sets the two apart.

“I think one of the things George is really good at in qualifying specifically is building up the pace lap by lap, finding the time without over-pushing, let’s say,” he added.

“When it comes down to qualifying and putting new tyres on, naturally you push harder because the car’s lighter, it’s probably handling the best it’s felt, you have more engine power because you turn it up for qualy.

“But it’s very easy to over-push because sometimes pushing harder isn’t necessarily the way to find the lap time, and George seems to be very good at finding that right balance of consistently improving lap by lap.

“I think it’s just the consistency of how he builds each lap whereas sometimes me, I can do a great first lap and be very close or sometimes faster on a first lap but then I don’t improve as much as I need to on the next lap.”