Formula 1 team Williams releases Canadian driver Nicholas Latifi when his contract expires at the end of the season.
Williams made the announcement on Friday without saying who will replace Latifi, 27, whose crash at last season’s season-ending Abu Dhabi GP sparked a chaotic one-lap restart that saw Max Verstappen overtake Lewis Hamilton to win the title.
Latifi hasn’t scored a point this season.
He was comfortably outclassed by Nyck De Vries, who replaced Alex Albon at the Italian Grand Prix two weeks ago and finished ninth by two points.
Latifi is in his third season with Williams and his best result was seventh at the Hungarian GP last year.
“Although we didn’t achieve the results we hoped for together, it was still a fantastic journey. Getting those first points in Hungary last year was a moment I will never forget,” Latifi said. “I will approach the next chapter of my career with special memories of my time with this dedicated team. I know none of us will stop trying hard until the end of the season.
Latifi was a popular but error-prone driver who came into the spotlight at the Abu Dhabi GP last year.
Hamilton was on his way to victory and an all-time record eighth F1 title when Latifi crashed his Williams car into a wall just laps from the end.
It led to a safety car, then a one-lap restart, and late drama ensued when Verstappen passed Hamilton on fresh tires to claim the world title in one of the most controversial moments ever. F1 history.
Latifi has been the subject of social media abuse and even death threats. He hired a bodyguard on a trip to London with his girlfriend.
Williams team principal Jost Capito hailed Latifi’s dedication to his profession.
“On behalf of the entire team, I would like to say a huge thank you to Nicholas for his three years of hard work with Williams,” Capito said. “He is an excellent team player who has a great attitude towards his colleagues and his work and is appreciated and respected throughout the company. Our time together is now coming to an end, but I know he will do everything possible to maximize what we can do together.
Latifi’s departure could open the door for De Vries to secure the seat alongside Albon for 2023 and beyond, with Albon tied to a multi-year deal.
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