Team / DAMS
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 at 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 was very 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 worked scrupulously with DAMS on both himself, and his car. 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.