September 25, 2022

Nicholas Latifi believes that the performance that led to his best qualifying result in Formula 1 is the new benchmark he must constantly reach to prolong his career.

The Williams driver will start the British Grand Prix 10th after reaching Q3 for the first time with a strong performance in wet conditions at Silverstone.

Latifi has struggled to adapt to the new 2022 ground effect cars and is set to leave F1 at the end of the year as Williams is tipped to sign Alpine protege Oscar Piastri in his place.

He says he still harbors hopes of saving his seat and although the Williams isn’t competitive enough to turn those results into a regular achievement, Latifi says his own performance needs to be repeated more often.

“It doesn’t really give me any more relief or comfort,” Latifi said. “It’s naturally a confidence booster and that’s positive.

“I know I’m capable of these performances and I can drive as fast as I need to know that I deserve to be in Formula 1, when things are going well.

“We’ve seen this over the last year many times, and just to see what George [Russell, his ex-Williams team-mate] done this year in a much more competitive car.

George Russell Nicholas Latif Williams F1

“Things haven’t gone well this year, there’s no secret about that, and that builds confidence.

“Momentum is maybe a strong word because it’s a good result. But that’s the kind of performance – and when I say I’m not talking about Q3 every race because that’s really unrealistic – but strong performance, consistently, is what it takes.

“I hope it’s not a flash. We’ll see after the next sessions. But it’s going to take.

“I don’t really take much relief from this result, but obviously I get a lot of satisfaction out of it.”

Latifi entered 2022 with aspirations to become Williams team boss after spending his first two years in F1 in Russell’s shadow.

But prior to that result at Silverstone he had failed to start a grand prix higher than 18th and only achieved a best result of 14th, while new team-mate Alex Albon quickly established himself as the driver. number one and scored twice in a tricky auto.

This seasonal backdrop made Latifi’s career-best qualifying performance all the more surprising – as did the fact that Albon is driving a vastly improved car at Silverstone while Latifi has to wait for the new specification.

Nicholas Latifi Williams F1 British GP Silverstone

Asked by The Race if he was surprised to beat Albon, Latifi said: “Some things were still falling into place on my end in practice so I was expecting to do – hoping to do – a good jump in qualifying if it was dry, if I did my job well.

“But we saw positive signs from the updates in the dry conditions today and yesterday. In the wet it makes things a little trickier, we often see cars qualifying out of position.

“I don’t know exactly what was wrong with his side of the garage, I saw we were within a tenth of each other in Q1.

“From my side, it’s quite nice to first get out of the first qualifying session, which is the first one this year, and then to get that first Q3.

Latifi spun at turn 1 on his first lap in Q3 and even pushed the wall slightly after skating on the gravel, then had a big scare in the same place on the next lap and was convinced that there was damage after finally starting a (slow) lap on the third attempt – so never really gave himself a chance to start higher than 10th.

He’s also aware he’ll fight gravity in the race as he’ll likely fall in order rather than be able to hang on for a season-ending first point.

But he said it allowed him to take a “nothing to lose approach”.

Nicholas Latifi Williams F1 British GP Silverstone

“If everything goes as it should, are the points realistic? Absolutely not,” he said.

“It’s not being pessimistic, it’s reality.

“We just have to focus on our own race. Maybe people can mismanage tires, and we’ve seen this before, where even if your car isn’t as fast as others, if you manage that tire properly, it can produce something good.

“That’s obviously what we’re going to aim for, obviously we can’t control what other people are doing.

“It will be exciting for sure. I will enjoy starting there.