SportF1Opinion: Latifi's F1 career deserved more than just being...

Opinion: Latifi's F1 career deserved more than just being a meme

Already in late spring 2022, when the first rumors began to emerge about Alpine’s plan to place Oscar Piastri at Williams for 2023, Latifi ‘s fate was set.

His problems on the track did not help to defend that he deserved to continue at Williams next year, so the confirmation this Friday that he was not renewed did not surprise anyone.

But the news gives Nicholas Latifi the opportunity to take the next steps in his sports career and redeem himself. His three seasons in F1 may not have given the results he wanted, but they have also been in extremely difficult circumstances, a difficult pill to swallow after so many years preparing to take the step and fulfill the dream of being a Formula driver. 1.

Latifi joined the F1 grid for 2020 after a significant amount of testing, both privately and in official sessions, and showed in Formula 2 that he had the pace to take the plunge. However, as Williams was still recovering from the disastrous 2019 season, at the back of the pack, attracting attention was difficult.

In addition, that course was complicated by COVID-19 , delaying the first race until July, and Latifi had a great talent like George Russell as a partner. It was not an easy starting point for a rookie.

Latifi's 2020 F1 debut came after the pandemic pushed the start of the year to July

The first breakthroughs came last year, when Williams started to find more performance, hooking to the rear of the midfield. The Hungarian race saw Latifi take his first F1 points with a seventh-place finish, which in turn was the first points-scoring race for Williams in over two years. Russell’s tears in the paddock are probably more remembered from that day, but what Latifi did was also remarkable. He then added another point in Belgium, when rain prevented the race from taking place, giving him ninth place after a good qualifying on Saturday in the wet.

And then the Abu Dhabi thing happened…

The end of the 2021 F1 season is historic. But Latifi was unjustly stoned. He was subjected to ridiculous accusations, harassment and even death threats, the severity of which made him fear for his own safety. It’s disgusting to think that a pilot who simply made a mistake should be subjected to such vicious attacks by internet trolls.

Latifi worked to try and turn the page from Abu Dhabi, but that’s easier said than done. Something like that would have a huge mental impact on anyone, no matter how strong they have become as an elite athlete. In a recent interview on The High Performance Podcast , Williams F1 boss Jost Capito said he believed the effects of Abu Dhabi had affected Latifi’s performance earlier in the season.

“It was extremely tough,” Capito said. “Anyone who hasn’t been through that has no idea how it feels. Even if you take off social media or stop using it, you’re in contact with other people who are still watching it. You know what’s going on and you can’t escape.”

“I’m sure that affected his driving. I’m convinced of that. I can understand that, and that’s why we gave him confidence and supported him all season.”

Latifi was subjected to threats and abuse after his crash caused the title-deciding safety car at Abu Dhabi

Latifi continued to suffer more than his new partner, Alexander Albon. He was baffled by the car, screaming his frustration from the rooftops after saying in Canada that “there was nothing really nice” about his race. He had the chassis changed at Silverstone and got the comfort he previously lacked, and he expected Williams to judge him from then on, but when Nyck de Vries scored Monza points on his F1 debut, he put the final nail in the ‘coffin’ of Latifi’s hopes for 2023.

Few can sugarcoat Latifi’s results over the last three years. But he deserved better than his F1 career becoming something of a meme , whether it be making jokes about Abu Dhabi, the nickname ” GOATifi “, or making fun of some of his qualifying performances, always in looking for influence in social networks.

It is unclear what the future holds for Latifi. He has been linked to an F1 team since 2018, when he made his free practice debut with Force India while still racing in F2. Now you will have to face a big change if you look for options in other categories. Latifi said in Zandvoort that he was not thinking much about options outside of F1 until his farewell to Williams was confirmed. But hopefully he will join the long list of drivers who, after seeing their F1 careers stall, go on to enjoy success elsewhere, whether in IndyCar, Formula E or racing. of passenger cars There are many options.

The goal now is for Latifi to enjoy the last few races with Williams, soak up the experience of racing in F1 and, if he’s still looking for some kind of mental reset or relief from the abuse he suffered after Abu Dhabi 2021, find that peace of mind.

After all, there are more important things than being an F1 driver.

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