Nicholas Latifi axed as Williams ‘didn’t expect his performance to be like this’

Jamie Woodhouse
Nicholas Latifi looking down. Montreal, June 2022.

Williams' Nicholas Latifi looks down whilst wearing a cap. Montreal, June 2022.

As Nicholas Latifi prepares to exit Williams at the end of 2022, team boss Jost Capito says both team and driver’s expectations have not been matched.

Latifi struggled to reach George Russell’s level for much of their two seasons together as Williams team-mates, but with Latifi’s form picking up as the 2021 campaign went on, and Russell leaving for Mercedes, the Canadian was presented with a golden opportunity to establish himself.

Sadly though, Latifi has again faltered up against his new team-mate Alex Albon, scoring only two points so far this season with a P9 finish last time out in Japan.

This has led to Williams deciding they will replace Latifi for next season, the Canadian racer almost certain to drop off the grid at the end of 2022.

Capito repeated his past belief that the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where Latifi’s crash changed the course of the title decider and led to subsequent vile, unacceptable abuse on social media, has played its part in Latifi’s struggles.

Nonetheless, neither driver nor team has been happy with the performance level in 2022, so Capito believes this was the right decision for both sides.

Asked by reporters to explain the process to reach this decision on Latifi, Capito said: “Of course it’s a long-term process, isn’t it?

“And as I mentioned at Monza, I believe Nicky’s performance has been impacted by last year’s Abu Dhabi outcome and circumstances after that.

“And then I think his performance was this year not on the level he expected of his performance himself. And we didn’t expect his performance to be like this.

“So, and then after three years, I think it’s right for the team and the driver to find different opportunities for both.”

Latifi was also outqualified and outraced by stand-in team-mate Nyck de Vries at Monza, but with the Dutchman joining AlphaTauri for 2023 it will not be him that takes Latifi’s seat.

The likes of Mick Schumacher, Logan Sargeant and Nico Hulkenberg have been credited with a shot at filling the vacancy. Capito made it clear though that no decision has been made.

“No, there’s still a decision to be made,” he confirmed.

Nicholas Latifi's Williams on qualifying day for the Dutch GP. Zandvoort September 2022.
Nicholas Latifi's Williams on qualifying day for the Dutch Grand Prix. Zandvoort September 2022.

Nicholas Latifi has not done enough to keep his seat

When Latifi joined Williams for 2020 as the replacement for Robert Kubica, he did so after finishing runner-up to De Vries in the 2019 F2 Championship, but more importantly for Williams at that time he came with a very healthy budget to boost their financial situation.

But following the takeover of Williams by Dorilton Capital in the summer of 2020, it meant the team were no longer in a situation of needing to rely on a driver with an army of sponsorship money to survive.

Latifi arguably could have lost his drive after both the 2020 and 2021 campaigns, but 2022 was the last straw with Albon coming in and instantly getting the better of Latifi, who has struggled to make the step in the upgraded FW44 he had been hoping to make.

Perhaps more alarming though was Monza, where De Vries also outpaced Latifi in qualifying and the race, despite having only found out shortly before the final practice session he would take Albon’s place for the rest of the weekend.

The Latifi-Williams partnership simply was not working, and the time has certainly come for a split.

Read more: Nicholas Latifi says P9 in Japan wouldn’t have stopped Williams from swinging the axe