Latifi slams pay driver tag, says he earned his spot

Date published: April 14 2020 - Michelle Foster

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Arriving on the F1 grid with a wealth of sponsorship behind him, Nicholas Latifi is adamant he has “earned” his place among the elite.

Last year Williams announced that Latifi, the team’s 2019 reserve driver, would step up to a race seat for 2020, replacing the out-going Robert Kubica.

The Canadian’s signing came as no surprise especially as reports claimed he was bringing ‘€30 million’ along with him through sponsorship.

A large part of that comes from Sofina Foods; his father, Michael, being CEO of that company.

That, though, is not Latifi’s only sponsor.

The 24-year-old is also backed by Royal Bank of Canada and Lavazza, one of the world’s most prominent coffee roasters.

As such Latifi, whose only notable achievement in motor racing was runner-up in last year’s Formula 2 Championship, has already been slapped with the ‘pay driver’ tag.

Latifi, however, insists he has more than proven he deserves a spot on the Formula 1 grid.

“It’s a perspective that will always be in the background for someone with my background, let’s say,” he told the official F1 website.

“The reality of motorsport is that it is an expensive sport… To race requires funding, whether that’s from family backing, personal sponsors, corporate sponsors or what have you, but the money always comes from somewhere.

“But I think specifically, in terms of getting into Formula 1, a few years ago they implemented the whole Super Licence points as a kind of barrier to not allow just anyone to come in – and obviously from my results in the past years I’ve, let’s say, more than exceeded those points, and I feel that I did earn my place and I do deserve to be here.”

Latifi’s Formula 1 debut is on hold as Formula 1 awaits the start of the 2020 season. That has been pushed back to July’s French GP but even that is under threat after France banned all mass gatherings until mid-July.

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