Raised in Toronto, Canada, Nicholas Latifi took to motor racing late, compared to many of his peers. He was 13 when he first tried a rental kart – and ended up as the quickest on track. What started as a weekend hobby began to get more serious when it was clear Latifi displayed a degree of talent behind the wheel.
After three years of karting, the Canadian decided to commit to motor racing as a career and moved to Europe to enrol into the competitive Italian Formula 3 series. Two further years of racing in F3 didn’t quite yield the results that would have identified Latifi as a future Grand Prix star, but his hard work and dedication took the youngster to Formula 2.
“There were a lot of difficult seasons where I was questioning myself if I was good enough to make it and if I was able to get the results, I needed to prove myself,” said Latifi in an interview at the beginning of 2020. “At that age I had to make a decision, was it really something I wanted to pursue?”
It was the right decision. In 2019, Latifi scored four wins in Formula 2 to finish runner-up to Mercedes-backed racer Nyck de Vries. During that season, Latifi was starting to build-up experience of Formula 1 machinery. A number of test outings, as well as six Friday practice sessions with the Williams team were invaluable opportunities to hone his skills at the highest level. In addition to previous testing days with the now-defunct Force India and Renault teams, Latifi made his Formula 1 debut at the beginning of last year as one of the best-prepared rookies in recent times.
Unfortunately, his F1 debut was pushed back six months as it was scuppered by the out-break of the coronavirus pandemic and was compounded when the Williams did not prove to be an easy car to drive. It was always going to be tough partnered alongside Mercedes’ protege George Russell, but Latifi has been confirmed for a third season at Williams from 2022.
Five years ago, his father, Michael Latifi, made a $350m investment into the McLaren Group, but stated the transaction was not connected with Nicholas’s racing career. Latifi’s father made his wealth as the founder and owner of Sofina Foods.