Current Williams Formula 1 reserve driver Nicholas Latifi will drive for the team full time in 2020 it has been announced.

It has long been anticipated that the 24 year old Canadian would replace outgoing Robert Kubica for next year, having completed five FP1 outings in 2019, and a sixth planned for the final Grand Prix of the season this weekend in Abu Dhabi.

Latifi’s current second place in this year’s Formula 2 Championship all but guarantees he’ll meet the minimum number of licence points required to compete in Formula 1 come the end of the season (a top five finish secures that), and so he’ll be eligible for an F1 seat for the first time.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity from Williams. I’ve had a very enjoyable first year there – right from my first day at the factory. There is a great atmosphere throughout the team and everyone made me feel comfortable straight away. That’s important when you’re stepping into a new environment.” said Latifi on responding to the announcement.

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

Williams’ Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams added: “[We’ve] been immensely impressed at what he has achieved this year in FIA Formula 2, along with his commitment to the team, and the work he’s put in behind the scenes.”

“Nicholas has become an established and well-respected member of Williams, and we look forward to him stepping up into this new role, as we look to fight our way back to the midfield.”

Latifi’s appointment completes the 2020 Formula 1 grid, with all the seats now filled. Williams begin the season with the least driver experience of any of the teams, George Russell and Latifi having just 21 Grand Prix starts between them, however, their experience is far outweighed by their talent and potential, with many people tipping Russell to become a future Formula 1 World Champion.

And with his F2 Championship experience and financial backing, Latifi could himself forge a lengthy Formula 1 career and prove to be a great asset to Williams Racing.

 


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