Nicholas Latifi to race for Williams in F1 next season

November 28, 2019 - 11:04 am

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Canadian driver Nicholas Latifi will make his Formula One debut for the struggling Williams next season as a replacement for veteran driver Robert Kubica.

Latifi finished the F2 championship this season in second place, winning four races with one race left. He has also worked as a reserve driver at Williams this year, doing testing and simulator work as well as participating in practice sessions during race weekends.

“It still feels a bit surreal,” the 24-year-old Latifi said. “I don’t think it will sink in fully until I’m on the grid in Melbourne next year.”

He will race alongside British driver George Russell, and completes the F1 grid for 2020.

Williams has been the slowest car all season and scored one point, which was Kubica’s 10th-place finish at the German Grand Prix in July.

“I don't underestimate the challenge ahead,” Latifi said.

Kubica was formerly one of the fastest young drivers in F1, touted as a future champion. But the 34-year-old Polish driver has struggled since returning after many years out of competitive racing, following a serious injury at the Ronde di Andora rally in 2011 in which his right forearm was partially severed.

At the Brazilian GP two weeks ago he almost collided with the Red Bull of Max Verstappen exiting the pit lane. Last month, he crashed into the wall just two minutes into qualifying.

Still, his return to the series was widely praised considering how serious his injuries were and how unlikely his comeback had seemed.

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