‘The knot burst’: Williams open up on replacing Nicholas Latifi for 2023

Nicholas Latifi is out of contract at the end of this season.

It looked a given at the start of the season that Williams were set to eject Nicholas Latifi out of the team at the end of this year following a string of poor performances.

The Canadian crashed twice over the course of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend, before he and Lance Stroll collided with each other during warm-up laps in Melbourne.

Having been joined at the Grove-based side by Alex Albon after the departure of George Russell, the 27-year-old has been out-qualified 11 times by his new team-mate in the opening 13 rounds of the 2022 season.

The Thai-Brit also leads the race battle by seven, although Latifi did enjoy satisfying performances in Spain and Silverstone on his way to finishing ahead, and he recovered from a mistake on the formation lap in Monaco to come out on top there too.

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Furthermore, while Albon was beating Latifi, on pure pace, by around eight tenths of a second in the opening nine rounds of the season, he has been an average of 0.25 seconds up since the Canadian Grand Prix.

This has started to bring people around on Latifi, who is beginning to prove himself as the racer that scored points twice last season, and why he was kept on for this year.

Williams ran former Formula E champion Nyck de Vries in their car at the Spanish Grand Prix earlier this season, and there was also talk of Oscar Piastri being loaned from Alpine, but the latter of those options seems to be dead in the water now.

Behind door number three, of course, is keeping Latifi, and team principal Jost Capito suggested that there is still a good chance the British side will retain him.

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“We have time and different options,” said the German, quoted by Motorsport-total.com.

“Nicky took a relatively long time to gain confidence and trust in the car with the new regulations, but somehow the knot burst somehow at Silverstone.

“So we’ll have to see how he develops because he was really good alongside George Russell last year. If he can do that again there’s no reason to start talking about replacing him.”

Formula 2 driver Logan Sargeant has been establishing himself as one to watch for the future, and the Williams academy driver sits third in the standings behind Felipe Drugovich and Theo Pourchaire.

The young American will take part in a practice session at his home United States Grand Prix later this season, and Capito is keeping a close eye on the prodigy.

“He’s developing very well, and I think I’m known for quickly promoting young talent and not putting someone on the bench for too long,” he explained.

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“We have time at the moment to see how things develop.”

Latifi’s contract runs out at the end of the 2022 season, but he appears to have a much bigger chance of keeping his drive now than he did at the start of the season.