Williams has a history of running Canadian drivers in Formula 1, its most successful… Jacques Villeneuve - the outspoken, hard-nosed racer who went from Indy 500 winner and IndyCar champion…
… to win the 1997 F1 World Championship, the squad’s most recent title.
SOUNDBITE (English) JACQUES VILLENEUVE,
1997 F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
"It doesn't feel such a long time ago for some reason because these moments are so poignant and so strong that they remain livid in your memory, they don't go in that part of the brain that is the past, they are present everyday of your life and it's just an amazing feeling.”
20 years later - Lance Stroll, son of billionaire Lawrence Stroll, joined the outfit fresh from his title-winning season in European F3. His rookie year netting a podium in Baku and a front row start at Monza. A nightmare car for year two, and his father’s purchase of Racing Point, sealing a switch.
But Williams could have another Canadian as early as next season, with reserve driver Nicholas Latifi rumoured to be in the frame for a 2020 seat - alongside Mercedes protege George Russell.
Latifi’s journey began with Italian F3, before European F3 for two seasons - finishing 10th in 2014. He dovetailed that with time in Formula Renault 3.5, then GP2-turned F2, where he’s currently second with four wins.
And while he’s got a full workload as Williams’ reserve, with simulator and track time, Latifi’s focus is on that promotion for 2020 - which it’s said he’s getting close to, with Kubica’s results so far disappointing.
SOUNDBITE (English) NICHOLAS LATIFI,
RESERVE DRIVER, WILLIAMS:
“If the opportunity does ever arise, I will feel this is the best place for me to cut my teeth as a racing driver for Formula 1.”
The squad was certainly impressed with Latifi’s calibre upon announcing him as 2019 reserve driver late last year.
SOUNDBITE (English) CLAIRE WILLIAMS,
DEPUTY TEAM PRINCIPAL, WILLIAMS:
“He’s an incredibly diligent and intelligent man. We know that he’s going to be able to help drive performance forward through working with the engineering team both trackside and during the simulator.”
For now, the historic squad is moving forward with Russell and Kubica - as it comes back from the brink, but change could be in the air as it considers 2020 and a familiar Canuck.