Latifi: Russell ‘clearly’ adapts better than me

Date published: January 17 2021 - Finley Crebolder

George Russell and Nicholas Latifi

Nicholas Latifi feels George Russell is “clearly” better at adapting to the shortcomings of the Williams than he is.

The head-to-head battle between the two in their first season together was often one-sided, with Russell beating Latifi in every single qualifying session.

While the Canadian admits he needs to improve on Saturdays, he feels the car did not suit him and puts the gap between the two down to Russell being able to adapt better.

“The big thing is we are driving the car we have, which doesn’t have the most downforce. And it’s not necessarily the most driveable car in terms of all phases of the corner,” Latifi told The Race.

“We speak a lot about how’s the through-corner balance of the car, what’s the balance of the car when you brake, when you turn the wheel, when you get to the apex, when you get to the exit and you start applying throttle.

“Having something that is consistent across all of those phases, or at least consistent to the inputs you give as a driver, helps quite a lot with the confidence.

“I think our car is maybe a bit more sensitive to not naturally how I’d like to drive, which is pushing the entries and really attacking the corners on the brakes.

“That’s maybe been a bit of a struggle at some times, reminding myself ‘don’t do that, you have to drive more in this way’. It’s clearly been something George has been able to adapt to a bit better than me.”

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2020 was Latifi’s first season in Formula 1 and he feels that driving alongside a driver as good as Russell, he learned a lot about himself – something he says is “great”.

“Last year in F2, there was a car change so it wasn’t the exact same thing, it was a similar environment for those years that I spent there. You can see very quickly what your strengths and weaknesses are,” he said.

“Then, jumping into Formula 1, you’re not only driving much higher-performing cars but you’re up against the best drivers in the world.

“Going up against George, it’s great for me to benchmark myself against someone like that. You learn a lot more about yourself as a driver because you have to adapt.

“You can’t just stay in your comfort zone of what worked for you in the past, how you were able to drive. You have to re-wire your brain sometimes, unlearn habits.

“A big part of being a Formula 1 driver, being a top-level driver in any discipline, is being able to make these adaptations for good or for bad.”

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