Formula 1’s sole 2020 rookie Nicholas Latifi believes his experience of Austria’s Spielberg circuit, and the reduced off-track activities, will help when he makes his debut this weekend.
The Williams driver was due to make his grand prix debut in Australia back in March but the event was cancelled on account of the worsening coronavirus pandemic.
Latifi, who had no prior experience of Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit, has raced at Spielberg for the last four years in Formula 2/GP2, as well as in Formula 3 and the now defunct Formula Renault 3.5 category.
Latifi will also be making his debut at a Closed Event grand prix, meaning there will be no spectators, no marketing and minimal on-location media commitments.
“What should help me is the fact that Austria is a track I know well,” said Latifi.
“It’s the only one I’ve competed at every year since I’ve been racing. Australia would have been a new track for me to discover – and it isn’t the easiest.
“Another potential positive is that with fewer media, spectators, partners or sponsors around, I will have more time to focus on the driving.
“So much of a Formula 1 race weekend is taken up by all the other things you have to do besides the driving and engineering stuff. Without so much of it in Austria, I reckon it might be an easier environment.”
Latifi also stressed that he isn’t setting any targets ahead of the first stages of the campaign.
“From a results and expectations point of view, at this point in the season it’s too early to predict much, as I really have to see where the car is going to be,” said Latifi.
“I expect my team-mate, George [Russell], to have an advantage in the early races, as he isn’t a rookie any more, but I want to push him where I can.
“In my first race I’m just going to try and take everything as it comes, step-by-step, and get up to speed quickly.
“I’m under no illusions though – I’m making my F1 race debut and there’s a lot to learn. The fact that I’ve had to wait a bit longer than planned doesn’t change anything.”