Formula 2 driver Nicholas Latifi is relishing the prospect of making his official Formula 1 debut when he takes part in FP1 on the Friday of the Canadian Grand Prix weekend, the Toronto native will be driving for Force India in the morning session in Montreal while hoping this is the prelude to a full-time seat on the F1 grid next year.
Speaking to Journal de Montreal ahead of his debut on home soil, Latifi said, “It will obviously be very special for me. The Canadian Grand Prix is home.”
Latifi was born in the Montreal area of Dollard-Des Ormeaux, but his family moved to Toronto when he was only six months old and have built up a fortune said to be worth billions in the food industry.
“I still have uncles, aunts and cousins who still live there,” added Latifi. “They will all come and show support and encouragement on Friday.”
“I attended the last two Grands Prix in Montreal, but I never raced there. I’m really excited. I am confident that when I leave the pitlane I will have a big smile. It’s a dream come true. I want to have fun of course, but I am aware that the laps I will achieve will be very useful for the team.”
Latifi is clearly a man on a mission, “In 2019 I do not want to stay another season in Formula 2. My goal is F1 next year.”
Like Lance Stroll, whose billionaire father financed his way on to the F1 grid with Williams, Latifi is faced with comparisons. Expectations are that Latifi family money will have to talk to make the dream come true.
When asked about this Latifi replied, “You are not the first to talk about my father. Money is not the only guarantee of success in motor racing. I have proven that concrete results are needed to succeed in this business.”
Furthermore, the 22-year-old has not set the racing scene alight, while in contrast Stroll was champion in all the classes he entered, while Latifi has never finished higher than fifth in any series he has contested since 2012.
Last year he finished 5th in his debut Formula 2 championship season and now lies 10th in this years standings after eight points scoring rounds, trailng his DAMS teammate Alexander Albon who is third.
Meanwhile his father, Michael Latifi recently announced a colossal investment in the McLaren Group, which includes the Formula 1 operation.
In an attempt to snub out specualtion that this may be the first step in a sale of the McLaren race seat to Latifi, a McLaren spokesperson pointed out, “There is no question of a connection between the investment in McLaren by Michael Latifi and the career of Nicholas Latifi as a driver.”
An alternative for Latifi’s ambition to be on the grid would be a seat with Force India, but that is pure speculation as much lies in limbo regarding the immediate future of the team owned by embattled entrepeneur Vijay Mallya.
Big Question: Does Nicholas Latifi deserve a Formula 1 race seat in 2019?