Latifi doesn't see late debut as a problem
Nicholas Latifi doesn’t see age as a factor or an issue when he makes his F1 debut in 2020 with ROKiT Williams Racing.
While the current rookie drivers are in their very early twenties, or even late in their teenage years, Williams will field Latifi, who will be making his F1 debut at the relatively old age of 24-years in 2020. The affluent Canadian, however, doesn’t let this trouble him.
Even though we are seeing more younger drivers in F1, Latifi feels that it is an appropriate time to be in the sport taking his late karting debut into consideration. He also said that he thinks his experience is similar to that of guys like Max Verstappen and Esteban Ocon.
“For sure, I think, if I was to have gone to F1, just two years ago, I wouldn’t have felt as ready as I do now,” said Latifi to media including FormulaRapida.net. “I think a lot of people don’t realise I started racing quite late, with karting.
“I only started racing karts at 13 years-old. Compared to guys like, in extreme cases, Verstappen, even Esteban, I think they started to kart at 4-years-old. So when you take into consideration when I’m in F1, it’s about 12-years which is the same for a guy like Max.
“He started at 17-years-old, 13 years from when he started driving. If you go up the list of a lot of established guys, it’s about right let’s say. Yes, I agree that when compared to the more recent rookies, I’m definitely on the older side.
“[But] in terms of my experience level of motorsport, I think it’s right for me, I feel prepared and the most ready I’ve ever been to step up.” Latifi also said that the success of his fellow F2 drivers in F1 provides some comfort with regards to his season-to-be.
“I think even going into 2018 as well, F2 has shown that it’s a great proving ground for drivers, drivers who have been able to step up to F1 they’ve shown they’ve been able to do the job right away, so for sure this brings confidence for me,” said Latifi.
“I hope to emulate that. With regards to taking George, Lando and Alex, the latter two didn’t win the championship and they’re still performing extremely well, so I’m in a position where I’ve lost out on the championship similar to them, unfortunately.
“But again I think that doesn’t mean I won’t be capable of doing the job. Like I said it will be challenges for sure and where exactly I’m going to be relative to George at the beginning of the season, it’s impossible to know.
“In fact, where exactly we’ll be as a team it’s impossible to know, but I’m going to do everything I can to achieve the maximum performance. A lot of the grid now is made up of very young guys, mostly which I have raced against.
“From that side of things, it’s a bit of familiarity. I guess racing against the more established guys who have been there a while, I’ve taken part in many F1 sessions, so sharing the track with them won’t be completely new.
“But for sure it will be something cool to properly race with them for the first time.” Having had three F1 rookie drivers in 2019, the 2020 grid will have just Latifi making his debut while Esteban Ocon will be a returning driver at Renault.
[This story was written by me for FormulaRapida, and edited by Darshan Chokhani]