Is Nicholas Latifi a Pay Driver in F1?

Published 10/31/2021, 8:17 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – United States Grand Prix – Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, U.S. – October 21, 2021 Williams’ Nicholas Latifi ahead of the Grand Prix REUTERS/Mike Blake


Over the past few years, the term ‘Pay Driver’ has been ringing in the ears of the F1 fans, with many often criticizing the sport for letting money be the primary factor over talent. A lot of drivers arguably exploited this opportunity to find themselves a spot on the highly prestigious grid including Nicholas Latifi.

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The Canadian joined the F1 grid in 2020 after almost securing the 2019 F2 world championship title. However, his stats never mattered. Rather, the fact that he used his father’s money and other sponsorships overshadowed his own talent.

Formula One F1 – United States Grand Prix – Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, U.S. – October 23, 2021 Williams’ Nicholas Latifi during practice REUTERS/Mike Blake

Hence, the answer is ‘Yes’. Latifi is indeed a pay driver and according to reports, the Canadian brings a whopping $30 million to Williams Racing. Of course, his father, Michael Latifi, plays a significant part in this.

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But, apart from the senior Canadian, there are also sponsors like the coffee giants, Lavazza, and Royal Bank of Canada that play a crucial role in stabilizing Williams’ financial structure amidst their recent struggles.

Does Nicholas Latifi deserve to race in F1?

Before we give out an answer, let’s look at the history of pay drivers. There are quite a few big names that show up on this list including Niki Lauda, Michael Schumacher, Sergio Perez, and even Lando Norris.

There are two sides to the category of pay driver; the ones who prove their worth and the ones who don’t, and rather end up as a liability. Well, Latifi is definitely the former.

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We agree, he did not have a great start to his F1 campaign and had often looked off-pace against his teammates and even other rival team drivers. But, it has been a turnaround since the start of 2021. The contrast in Latifi’s on-track show has been quite significant.

Formula One F1 – Hungarian Grand Prix – Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary – August 1, 2021 Williams’ Nicholas Latifi in action REUTERS/Florion Goga

The Hungarian Grand Prix witnessed Latifi secure his first F1 points by coming home in P7. In the very next race, the Canadian yet again found himself in the top 10 as he added another point to his tally.

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What’s more, during race days, Latifi has looked as quick as the soon-to-be Mercedes driver, George Russell. Hence, there is no denying that Latifi could be a regular points scorer had he driven a decent enough car. So, we’ve come to the conclusion that Latifi is a deserving enough candidate to race in F1.

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Rohit Kumar

1413 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.

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