Nicholas Latifi says watching the strong seasons Lando Norris, Alexander Albon and George Russell all enjoyed in 2019 means he’s confident he can emulate them as the next rookie to reach Formula 1.

After four full seasons in F1’s main feeder series, Latifi makes the step up from Formula 2 in 2020 joining Williams alongside Russell as Robert Kubica’s replacement.

The Canadian driver missed out on the F2 title this year to Nyck de Vries but held on to the runner-up spot in a year when he notched up four race wins and four additional rostrum finishes.

Having seen F2’s top three from 2018 all progress into F1 this year, while the likes of Pierre Gasly and Charles Leclerc made similar impressions the year before, Latifi is optimistic he can follow-up their success in his first season in the top class as F1’s only rookie in 2020.

“I think even going beyond last year, Charles and Pierre, F2 has shown that it’s a great proving ground for drivers,” Latifi said. “Drivers who have been able to step up to F1 have shown they can do the job right away, so for sure this brings confidence for me. I hope to emulate that.

“Specifically as you said, Lando and Alex, they didn’t win the championship last year, but they’re still performing extremely well, so I’m in a position where I’ve lost out on the championship unfortunately, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be capable of doing the job.

“A lot of the grid now is made up of very young guys, which I have raced against. From that side of things, it’s a bit of familiarity. It won’t be as much of a jump at the deep end.”

Despite the familiarity of the competition, Latifi is still bracing for a tough learning curve against his more experienced rivals.

“I guess racing against the more established guys who have been there a while, I’ve done FP1s so sharing the track with them won’t be completely new, but for sure it will be something cool to properly race with them for the first time,” he said.

“Like I said, it will be a challenge. We’re not aware where exactly I’m going to be relative to George at the beginning of the season. It’s impossible to know exactly as a team, but I’ll do everything I can to achieve the maximum performance.”

Latifi has been Williams’ F1 test driver for 2019 and gained six FP1 outings across the year. The 24-year-old has also tested for both Racing Point and Renault in F1.

 

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