Latifi suffers heaviest defeat of any driver in 2022 as he bows out of F1 · RaceFans

Nicholas Latifi had a new team mate this year but the result was little different. After another heavy defeat – the worst any driver suffered this year – he finds himself without a place on the 2023 F1 grid.

Until the 2022 season began Latifi’s only team mate in Formula 1 had been George Russell (aside from a one-off appearance by Jack Aitken). Russell’s pedigree was assured by his status as a Mercedes driver and sure enough he went on to acquit himself superbly alongside no less a talent than Lewis Hamilton this year.

So having gone down 15-0 and 19-3 against Russell in qualifying over his first two years as a Williams driver, would Latifi fare any better against Alexander Albon? No: Latifi only claimed better qualifying positions than his team mate on two occasions. These were at Imola, where Albon’s brakes caught fire, and Silverstone, where he wasn’t able to suss Williams’ upgrade package in time and Latifi prevailed in a wet qualifying session.

The season began disappointingly for Latifi, who had narrowed the gap to Russell in qualifying over the course of the previous season, but found himself ill at ease with Williams’ new FW44 when the season began. As the year went on, progress was modest at best, though at the finale Latifi qualified just two-hundredths of a second off his team mate.

Albon was seldom headed by Latifi during 2022

But arguably the one-off appearance of Nyck de Vries in Albon’s place showed up Latifi even worse. At Monza, a track the team earmarked as a potential points-scoring venue for its downforce-light chassis, the Formula E champion comfortably out-qualified Latifi, put the car into Q3 and brought it home still inside the top 10.

At the point Latifi was still the only full-time driver yet to score points. He avoided the ignominy of ending the year point-less with a shrewd immediate switch onto intermediate rubber at a wet Suzuka, a gutsy gamble matched only by Sebastian Vettel. Albon might have done the same had he still been in the race at that point, but he’d taken first-lap contact from Kevin Magnussen which damaged his radiator and put him out.

The rest of the season, Albon consistently led the way. He only followed Latifi home once, in the Spanish Grand Prix, where he sustained floor damage, suffered high tyre degradation as a result and had to make an extra pit stop.

The final points difference of Albon’s four to Latifi’s two therefore flattered the latter in a season where Williams struggled to make it into the top 10. Albon reckoned his bout of appendicitis prevented him from participating in Williams’ best points-scoring opportunity of the season, and given what De Vries managed to do with his car that seems like a reasonable claim.

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Unrepresentative comparisons omitted. Negative value: Albon was faster; Positive value: Latifi was faster

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2022 F1 season

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