In many aspects, Nicholas Latifi doesn’t fit the mould of a modern day racing driver.
Some of the Canadian’s fellow racers started karting nearly 10 year’s younger than him. The 24-year-old was a late entrant to the junior motorsport scene and didn’t set foot into a go-kart until he was a teenager, while his 1.85m frame is taller than most. On paper, this should have held him back: the reality has been much different.
The Canadian has an air of confidence about him, and a sense of calm that can remain undeterred even in the most difficult of circumstances. Spending the entirety of his F2 career with DAMS, he slowly built up a solid reputation as a title challenger and ahead of the 2018 season, he looked ready.
Yet, illness struck and a period in hospital saw him miss the entirety of the pre-season testing programme. In a season of change for the F2 car, he ended up in an unfamiliar machine, which didn’t suit his driving style. A title challenge would never materialise.
2019 was quickly labelled as a last chance saloon. Knowing that it was likely his final shot at earning a move to F1, he work scrupulously with DAMS on both himself, and his car. And, with a full testing programme behind him, he won three of the opening five races.
Latifi would ultimately lose out to the ultra-consistent Nyck de Vries over the course of the season, but he had shown more than enough to pique the interest of Williams. A testing role with the F1 team was upgraded to a permanent race seat for 2020 with the departure of Robert Kubica. He backed this up by becoming F2’s Vice-Champion in the season finale at Abu Dhabi.