Nicholas Latifi and George Russell have spoken of their joy at the role Jenson Button played at the Williams team as advisor in 2021.
The Briton won 15 of the 306 races he started in a career that saw him win the world championship in 2009 with Brawn, and the 42-year-old scored points six times in his debut F1 season with Williams in 2000.
Button retired in 2016 following seven years with McLaren, but he would return in 2017 to replace Fernando Alonso for the Woking-based team at the Monaco Grand Prix, where a crash with Pascal Wehrlein ended his afternoon early.
The former world champion made sporadic appearances in the paddock thereafter and, as well as taking on a role as a pundit, he was approached by Williams with the offer of an advisory position last year.
2021 saw a significant upturn in form for Williams, who scored three points finishes between Russell and Latifi.
The Hungarian Grand Prix yielded their double points finish for the first time since the Italian Grand Prix of 2018, and Russell claimed an astonishing podium at the Belgian Grand Prix a few weeks later.
Latifi ended the race in Budapest seventh and showed impressive improvements from his first year in the sport in 2020.
The Canadian details the lift that Button’s presence has given the Grove-based outfit.
“Since Jenson joined, he’s been a great asset to the team,” he told Formula1.com.
“Obviously earlier with Covid still an issue he wasn’t in the factory so much… but I mean he obviously has a wealth of experience in the sport and the unique perspective as a driver which is good for me personally, and even his old race engineer [Dave Robson] is with our team as well so we have a relationship as well,” explained Latifi.
The 26-year-old said that Button has been aiding everyone at the British team.
“Yes, just from working with the team from that side, I see him [Button] talking to the engineers and giving his opinion on what he’s been seeing, which I’m sure is valuable to them,” he added.
In terms of his own personal development, Latifi has thoroughly enjoyed the teachings of a world champion like Button.
“I guess from the personal side, I’m still very new to Formula 1. He’s given me little words of wisdom on starting out, good approaches, bad approaches and whatnot and yes, just the odd little bits of encouragement after qualifying or after the race if I manage to bump into him,” he said.
Russell will join Mercedes in 2022 to replace Valtteri Bottas who has signed for Alfa Romeo this year.
He has already deputised at the German manufacturer at the Sakhir Grand Prix, where he performed exquisitely before a botched pit stop and slow puncture put pay to his efforts to win the race.
The 23-year-old says that he was already acquainted with Button before 2021, and reveals that he has had a big impact on Williams.
“I’ve been fortunate even prior to Jenson joining Williams again that I had a good relationship with him,” he explained.
“And he was very open and always there whenever needed… but he’s more so now actually due to the Covid rules [that] have opened up.”
The Briton added that his compatriot has been involving himself in all areas of the operation at the team.
“[He’s] always in the garage, in the hospitality, talking to the engineers, to myself, to Jost [Capito] and I think that’s really great, just to sound ideas off him and get his feedback and input from his own experiences because obviously he’s had a huge amount of experience,” he explained.
“So it’s in ways unique to have somebody like Jenson a part of your team,” he added.
Latifi will remain at the Williams team in 2022, and will partner Alex Albon.
The Thai-Brit is returning this year after missing 2021 following his Red Bull departure at the end of 2020.