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Two leading contenders have been identified to drive for Williams next season in place of Nicholas Latifi. After three underwhelming seasons with the British team, it was announced on Friday that the Canadian driver was being axed at the end of 2022 season, prompting instant speculation as to who would now be partnering Alex Albon next year.
“Williams Racing and Nicholas Latifi will part ways at the end of the 2022 Season,” the team tweeted. “We want to thank Nicky for his commitment and hard work over the last three years and wish him all the best in the next steps of his career.”
The place of Latifi, 27, was already under scrutiny before the Italian Grand Prix, where he found himself partnered by Mercedes reserve driver Nyck de Vries after Albon was ruled out with an appendicitis. The Dutchman finished ninth in Monza, meaning he’d notched more top-10 finishes in one Grand Prix for his temporary team this season than Latifi has managed in all 17 races.
Inevitably, the 27-year-old is now in the frame to join Williams permanently next season. But F1 figure Will Buxton thinks the ex-Formula E and Formula 2 world champion will have competition for the seat.
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“Latifi is a great guy and he gave it a good crack, but the writing has been on the wall for some time,” tweeted Buxton. “Have to wish him nothing but well in his future endeavours. So will it be de Vries or Sargeant? The two leading contenders as things stand to race alongside Albon next season.
Sargeant, 21, is currently a member of the Williams Driver Academy. The promising young American is at the moment competing in Formula 2 with Carlin Motorsport, and is yet to appear in an F1 Grand Prix.
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Latifi racked up just seven points in the 2021 campaign, having finished with zero in 2020, but was directly involved in the controversial finish to the F1 title race. It was his crash with five laps left in Abu Dhabi which prompted the now infamous safety car.
Lewis Hamilton fans deemed him partly responsible for costing the British icon his eighth world championship. In the aftermath of the race, Latifi claimed he received multiple threats and abusive messages.
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