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Analysis | This is how De Vries blew Latifi away during Italian Grand Prix

Analysis | This is how De Vries blew Latifi away during Italian Grand Prix

19 September - 13:00 Last update: 19 September - 13:00
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Nicholas Latifi must have a rock-solid contract at Williams and some good friends inside the garage because Nyck de Vries confirmed what the majority have been thinking for a long time: he’s not good enough for Formula 1. It’s a brutal statement, but that’s the reality of top-level sports. Especially when so much talent is forced to sit on the sidelines because there are ‘only’ 20 seats on the grid. 

The Canadian was simply blown out of the water during the Italian Grand Prix by his replacement teammate for the weekend. 16 races have been completed in the 2022 season and Latifi is the only full-time driver yet to score points. Perhaps not a big surprise considering Williams have the slowest car in the field. 

But the question marks are looming wildly now because De Vries finished ninth on his Formula 1 debut. Arguably he was helped out for his grid position with a myriad of engine penalties affecting almost half the field, but Latifi received the exact same aides. 

Even with the superior result in qualifying, Latifi ended up starting just two places behind De Vries. The Dutchman held his position for much of the race and came home in ninth, whereas Latifi dropped five places to finish 15th. Only Kevin Magnussen saw the chequered flag behind Latifi. 

 
 
 
 
 
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What happened? 

De Vries finished four-tenths faster than Latifi when comparing both of their fastest laps in qualifying at Monza. As the graphic highlights, Latifi was actually faster in the corners which usually helps beat the comparison because more time is spent in the corners due to it being slower. 

However, Monza is unique in that there are so few corners, that enough time can be gained back on the straights. It's unsurprising that Latifi was able to be quicker in the corners. The Dutchman was new to Formula 1, and only had one session to adjust to the Williams car. This likely comes down to the fact that he hasn’t yet learned the perfect way of hitting the apex, and when to start accelerating at the optimum time. 

De Vries smashes almost every single straight. Some of this will be down to car set-up and the work Alex Albon completed during Friday practice. Though De Vries was clearly getting better traction out of the corner and likely making better use of the energy deployment. These factors combined made De Vries quicker over the one qualifying lap. 

When looking at the finer telemetries, it’s clear how De Vries creates the speed at the corner exit. At most corners, brakes a fraction later. This is particularly helpful at turn one with DRS staying active a fraction longer. Even with the later braking at turn one, De Vries slows the car down to 58km/h whereas Latifi stays up at 72km/h. But this allows De Vries to get a far better exit which creates a smooth ‘V’ shape on the speed graph. Latifi’s speed looks more like a ‘W’ meaning he loses time at the exit. 

Forgetting about the safety car period, in the race, both drivers went for a one-stop during the Italian Grand Prix itself. Interestingly, De Vries opted for the more aggressive tyre strategy by starting on the softs and moving to the medium tyres. Latifi started on the medium and went up to hards. 

As expected with the tyre delta, De Vries lapped quicker than Latifi until his soft tyres started to decline in performance. The Canadian pitted first and De Vries was able to make his softer tyres last a little bit longer. This could be because he had to go longer to ensure the medium tyres would get him to the end whereas Latifi had more breathing room going on the hards. There were about 12 laps where Latifi was quicker, most of which came when De Vries tyres started to drop. 

Conclusion 

It’s quite shocking to see a driver making his debut in Formula 1 and being consistently faster than a teammate who has been in the team for a long time. None of this data helps Latifi when he needs it the most. He’s not going to get a contract next season and shouldn't be appearing in the Singapore Grand Prix. Williams shoul look to move on as quickly as possible and start to become the aspiring team Sir Frank Williams would want. 

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