As his Formula 1 career faded out with a final retirement, Nicholas Latifi says there was a “lot of frustration and disappointment” since learning of his Williams axing.
Although the Canadian showed signs of promise last year, scoring seven points mid-season, he wasn’t able to follow that through in 2022.
While his new team-mate Alex Albon progressed into Q2 sessions and scored a few points, Latifi qualified back of the grid after back of the grid. And yet still Williams CEO Jost Capito refused to entertain questions about his future.
That came to a head at the Italian Grand Prix when Latifi was out-qualified and out-scored by substitute driver Nyck de Vries, the Dutchman in the points on his debut.
He started eighth to Latifi’s P10 but finished P9, the Canadian dropping all the way back to 15th place. The writing was on the wall, Williams announcing before the next race that they would not be renewing Latifi’s contract.
While he did manage to score two points in the wake of that announcement, P9 at the Japanese Grand Prix, it was a lacklustre end to his career with the driver almost always last of the classified runners and with two DNFs as well. His time on the grid ended with a retirement at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
“There’s the extra emotional aspect when things aren’t going well,” Latifi said. “But at the same time, I still have frustration and disappointment even now I know.
“Irrespective of knowing if I’m staying or not, I still wanted to do well, still wanted to end each qualifying, each race since I’ve found out as best I can.
“Just because I’ve known doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. In a way, [there was] nothing to lose, but still a lot of frustration and disappointment in these last six races.”
‘I’ve gotten to do three seasons in F1’
Arriving on the grid in 2020 having finished runner-up in the previous year’s Formula 2 Championship, Latifi failed to score a single point in his first season, bagged seven in his second and two in his third.
It wasn’t what he had dreamed of but, as he says, at least he got to race in Formula 1.
“Many drivers would kill to do one race, I’ve gotten to do three seasons in F1,” said the 27-year-old.
“It’s been tough for sure. I’m leaving feeling like I wanted to accomplish more. I would have loved to have stayed and tried to improve myself, improve with the team.
“But it didn’t work out. I’ve known that for quite a few races now. And yeah, now time to focus on the next chapter.”
What next for Nicholas Latifi?
Latifi has been linked to a move to IndyCar although has denied a deal has been done, for now he wants to look at his options.
One option that’s not on his list is a reserve driver role.
While two of his fellow 2022 leavers, Daniel Ricciardo and Mick Schumacher, are expected to be third drivers next season, that’s not something Latifi wants as he doesn’t believe it would lead to a return to the grid.
“I think the only way I would consider a third driver role is if I saw a realistic way to return to the grid in Formula 1 which, speaking bluntly and honestly, I don’t see to be the case,” he told the Beyond the Grid podcast.
“If I can’t find something that’s suitable for me next year, I might potentially take a year off to put together something better for the following year.
“All the options are still open. I’m still young, I’m 27.”