Williams have confirmed they will part company with Nicholas Latifi at the end of the 2022 Formula One campaign.

Latifi was widely expected to leave Williams upon the expiration of his contract this year, with the team reportedly considering a full-time seat for Nyck de Vries, who recently deputised for them at Monza.

The Canadian failed to pick up any points during his first campaign with Williams in 2020, first doing so with a seventh-placed finish at last year's Hungarian Grand Prix.

Lafiti, whose crash at last year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix led to a highly contentious finish to Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen's title fight, has failed to finish higher than 12th in any race this term.

Williams chief executive and team principal Jost Capito said: "On behalf of the whole team, I would like to say an enormous thank you to Nicholas for his three years of hard work with Williams. 

"He is a great team player who has a great attitude towards his colleagues and work and is well liked and respected throughout the business. 

"Our time together is now coming to an end, but I know he will put full effort in to maximise what we can do together for the remainder of this season. We wish him all the very best of luck for his future, both in and out of the cockpit."

Latifi, meanwhile, said he had enjoyed his spell with the team despite their lack of success, adding: "I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at Williams Racing – all the people back at the factory and those I work with trackside – for the last three years. 

"My initial F1 debut was postponed due to the pandemic but we eventually got going in Austria and, although we have not achieved the results together we hoped we would, it's still been a fantastic journey. 

"Getting those first points in Hungary last year was a moment I'll never forget, and I will move onto the next chapter of my career with special memories of my time with this dedicated team."

Williams confirmed last month that Alex Albon had signed a multi-year agreement to continue representing the team, and Friday's statement said their full 2023 line-up would be announced "in due course".

Sebastian Vettel's hopes of a successful first race since announcing his Formula One retirement suffered a setback as he crashed in third practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The four-time world champion this week confirmed he will end his F1 career at the end of the season.

His move to Aston Martin in 2021 has not delivered the desired results, with Vettel claiming just one podium since his switch from Ferrari.

But Vettel was impressing amid heavy rain at the Hungaroring, only to lose control of his rear tyres and spin into barriers at turn 10.

That saw the session briefly red-flagged before it was brought to a conclusion by the Williams of Nicholas Latifi surprisingly posting the fastest time on intermediate tyres on a drying track.

It is the first time Latifi has been quickest in an F1 practice session.

His team-mate Alexander Albon was third, sandwiching the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, with the changeable conditions setting the stage for a fascinating qualifying session.

The session was largely defined by Mercedes' struggles for grip. George Russell did find enough to go fifth fastest, but Lewis Hamilton could only manage 11th.

Charles Leclerc is confident Ferrari will be fighting for the win at Silverstone – as long as the team can avoid any further reliability woes.

Power unit issues have led to recent retirements in Spain and Azerbaijan, the last of which resulted in a back-of-the-grid start for the Canadian Grand Prix after taking a third unit of the season.

Those troubles, accompanied by a wrong strategy call in Monaco, have seen Max Verstappen and Red Bull take a commanding lead in both championships – with the defending champion winning four of the past five races.

Ferrari's potential is undeniable, with six pole positions out of nine, but only two have resulted in race wins and the last came in Australia almost three months ago.

In his career overall, Leclerc's 15 poles have returned just four wins for a 27 per cent winning percentage – the second lowest in F1 history among drivers who have won at least one race, behind only Jarno Trulli (25 per cent, one win from four pole positions). 

Despite a 49-point deficit in the driver's championship, third-placed Leclerc remains upbeat and believes reliability will be an issue for all teams to contend with this season.

"No, I'm not worried. I mean, it's a big gap but, but I'm just focusing on the job, and I'm confident that we can take that back," he told Motorsport.

"I think reliability seems to be a concern for everyone this season. And yeah, if we fix our reliability, the performance is there to come back. So already from Silverstone we'll try to get a few points back.

"I really like Silverstone. And hopefully we will be competitive enough to be starting on pole and finally win from pole."

Mercedes' hunting ground

Eight of the past nine British GPs have been won by Mercedes, with the only exception being Sebastian Vettel with Ferrari in 2018, and improvements shown in Canada will provide encouragement for the Silver Arrows.

Lewis Hamilton's second podium finish of the season in third was the highlight in Montreal, but George Russell's consistency continues to stand out, with the British driver finishing in the top five in all nine races in 2022.

A win for Hamilton would be the ninth of his career at Silverstone, setting a new record for the most wins in a single GP – overtaking his eight victories in Hungary and Michael Schumacher's eight wins in France.

Driver market

Away from the track itself, the F1 driver market is starting to heat up as teams outline their plans for the 2023 season, and there are a number on the grid who could be under threat of losing their seats.

Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel are both out of contract at the end of the season – although each could still extend – while Daniel Ricciardo has work to do to impress McLaren to retain his seat despite being tied down for a further year.

Nicholas Latifi at Williams and Mick Schumacher at Haas are also under pressure, with F2 champion and Alpine reserve Oscar Piastri expected to get a chance in 2023. Antonio Giovinazzi has been touted for a return to the grid, too.

Drivers

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 175
2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 129
3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 126
4. George Russell (Mercedes) 111
5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 102

Constructors

1. Red Bull 304
2. Ferrari 228
3. Mercedes 188
4. McLaren 65
5. Alpine 57

Nicholas Latifi has revealed the "hate and abuse" sent to him on social media following his crash at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Williams driver Latifi skidded into the barriers late in the final race of the Formula One season on December 12, resulting in the safety car being called onto the track.

Latifi had been tussling with Mick Schumacher for 15th place, but the incident had huge repercussions at the front of the race.

Lewis Hamilton held a healthy lead over Max Verstappen at the time and looked all set to claim a record eighth world title.

Yet with the gap closed after Latifi's crash, the FIA contentiously allowed several lapped cars to overtake the safety car, meaning Hamilton and Verstappen had a one-lap sprint for the championship, with the Red Bull driver, who was on fresher tyres, coming out on top.

It will go down as one of the most memorable, and controversial, moments in F1 history, but Latifi has now confirmed he received abuse, including death threats, for his incidental part.

In a statement published on his official website, Latifi said: "I've purposely been staying away from social media to kind of let things settle down from the events of the last race.

"A lot has been made of the situation that came about after my retirement in Abu Dhabi. I've received thousands of messages to my social media accounts – publicly and via DMs. Most have been supportive, but there's been a lot of hate and abuse, too.

"This isn't some scripted statement, but rather me speaking my mind in the hope that this maybe sparks another conversation about online bullying and the drastic consequences it can have on people. Using social media as a channel to attack somebody with messages of hate, abuse and threats of violence is shocking – and something I am calling out.

"Going back to the race weekend, as soon as the chequered flag dropped, I knew how things were likely to play out on social media. The fact that I felt it would be best if I deleted Instagram and Twitter on my phone for a few days says all we need to know about how cruel the online world can be.

"The ensuing hate, abuse, and threats on social media were not really a surprise to me as it's just the stark reality of the world we live in right now. I'm no stranger to being talked about negatively online, I think every sportsperson who competes on the world stage knows they're under extreme scrutiny and this comes with the territory sometimes.

"But as we've seen time and time again, across all different sports, it only takes one incident at the wrong time to have things completely blown out of proportion and bring out the worst in people who are so-called 'fans' of the sport. What shocked me was the extreme tone of the hate, abuse, and even the death threats I received.

"Thankfully, I'm comfortable enough in my own skin, and I've been in this world long enough that I can do a pretty good job of just letting any negativity wash over me. 

"To all the fans and people that did have my back during this whole situation, I want to say a huge thank you. I've seen and read a lot of your messages and they are much appreciated. It's nice to know I have so many people supporting me."

Mercedes initially appealed against the result of the race, but subsequently withdrew their complaints.

Williams Racing has confirmed that Alex Albon will join the team for the 2022 Formula One World Championship.

Currently a test and reserve driver with Red Bull, Albon returns to the grid having previously occupied a race seat for Christian Horner's team between 2019 and 2020, claiming podium finishes in Tuscany and Bahrain.

The 25-year-old will link up with Nicholas Latifi, who remains on the team for a fourth consecutive season.

Albon is relishing returning to the grid, but has his immediate sights set on a strong finish to 2021 with Red Bull.

"I am really excited and looking forward to returning to a Formula One race seat in 2022," he said.

"When you take a year out of F1, it's never certain you will make a return so I'm extremely thankful to Red Bull and Williams for believing in me and helping me on my journey back to the grid. 

"It's also been great to see all the progress Williams have been making as a team this year and I look forward to helping them continue that journey in 2022. 

"My focus now returns to my test and reserve driver role at Red Bull and helping the team fight for this year's World Championship."

Widely regarded as one of the most exciting young talents in motorsport, Albon enjoyed an impressive junior career that included multiple race wins in the GP3 Series and the FIA Formula Two Championship.

Albon replaces George Russell, whose move to Mercedes was finally announced on Tuesday after Valtteri Bottas' switch to Alfa Romeo went through.

 

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