The 2022 Italian Grand Prix has once again confirmed Williams Racing’s Nicholas Latifi needs to be shown the door.
It’s one thing to be consistently outperformed by your teammate in the same machinery for three consecutive seasons. It’s another matter entirely when reserve driver, Nyck de Vries, not only outperforms you in the same machinery with minimal Formula 1 experience and virtually zero preparation — but manages to finish in the points during his debut, while you finish in a lowly P15 (and only because there were four DNFs).
For anyone out of the loop, Nyck de Vries stepped in at the eleventh hour for Williams’ Alex Albon this past weekend due to a nasty case of appendicitis. The reigning Formula E world champion qualified to start at Monza Circuit from P13, before being upgraded to P8 due to an entire litany of grid penalties. Latifi, on the other hand, qualified to start from P15 before being upgraded to P10.
By the end of the race, Nyck de Vries had maintained his track position well enough to earn a P9 finish, showing some impressive pace, collecting two much-needed points for Williams Racing, as well as being named Driver of the Day at the cost of his body.
Despite being a motorsport veteran relative to young De Vries, it was business as usual for Nicholas Latifi, who failed to capitalise on the fortuitous conditions, failed to move the needle, and walked away empty-handed (excluding a healthy dose of humiliation). Zero guts. Negative glory.
“What else should he do, in terms of performance, than what he has showed today?” said Mercedes Team Principal & CEO Toto Wolff.
“No training, jumped in the car that he hadn’t driven, straight into FP3. It showed what he is capable of doing.”
“I didn’t see exactly how he did against Latifi, although that may not be the best reference… But we all know what Nyck can do,” stated a cold-blooded Max Verstappen.
“Nyck doesn’t win Formula E for nothing, and there are also a lot of good guys around.”
And as much as it probably pained him to admit, even Nicholas Latifi himself had some praise to offer: “He quickly picked up a good pace. He jumped in the car for FP3 and it was quite impressive how fast he went straight away.”
“Everyone knows that Nyck is a fast rider. So yes, it is impressive what he has done.”
Something tells me not even being a billionaire’s son will help Latifi avoid what’s coming his way. Or rather the lack thereof vis-a-vis a 2023 contract. The 2022 Italian Grand Prix might very well be his last Formula 1 race in Europe.