Latifi feeling 'a lot of anticipation' ahead of rookie season, but is he F1 worthy?

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Nicholas Latifi admits "a lot of anticipation" ahead of his rookie Formula 1 season despite the false start in Australia.

The Canadian is the only man to be debuting on the grid in 2020, after stepping up from reserve driver to replace Robert Kubica at Williams.

And before the race in Melbourne, the 2019 F2 runner-up was certainly hyped.

"Yeah, definitely very exciting," he said during the press conference on Thursday.

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"When I was first announced as the race driver last year this weekend seemed so far away, but day by day, going through all the winter preparations and everything, just kind of closing in on this weekend.

"Yeah, a lot of anticipation from myself and from the team as well, but yeah, really just happy and grateful to be here and just can’t wait to get the weekend underway."


Despite his rookie status, Latifi certainly isn't short of experience in F1 cars, having tested with the likes of Force India and Renault before joining Williams.

So he still felt very much at ease in the early stages of his first Grand Prix weekend.

"Right now, no, I would say there are not really any nerves at the moment," he admitted.

"I’ve kind of said that from already starting winter testing as the official race driver, for me it just felt like a continuation of the work I was doing with the team last year.

"I was already really comfortable in the team environment. To be honest, all the stuff that made it feel a bit more like I was the race driver was all the external – all the media, the fan interactions, it’s just at so much more of a higher level. Right now everything is still calm.

"Maybe once I’m waiting on the grid and the lights are about to go out, that’s probably when I’m going to notice…"

Ahead of his debut, however, former F1 driver Giedo van der Garde raised questions over whether Latifi is now in F1 because of talent or purely for his financial backing to keep Williams afloat. 

“I don’t think he [Latifi] is good enough and he will have a really tough time with Russell,” he told Dutch publication Formule 1.

“I can only see Russell going up as he is a great talent, which he proved in Formula 3 and Formula 2. Latifi is in Formula 1 now, but we also know that he is bringing a lot of money that will ensure Williams’ survival.

“I am not blown away by [Nicholas] Latifi as a driver.”