Cover Nicholas Latifi of Williams walks in the Paddock during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Singapore at Marina Bay Street Circuit. (Photo: Getty Images)

From training in four layers of clothes in anticipation of the Singapore humidity to leaving the Williams team later this year, we get all tea about the Canadian driver’s first race here

The stage is set, cars are ready, pit stop practices are ongoing and drivers are gearing up for what is known to be one of the hardest tracks on the Formula One calendar: Singapore.

With a bit of time to go before drivers get into their cars to start racing tomorrow evening, Tatler Singapore was invited into the Paddock to mingle with drivers and explore the Williams Racing team garage and hospitality spaces as they count down to race day.

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The atmosphere was relaxed as drivers walked around, conducted interviews and worked with the engineers for final touches before the first and second practice runs take place on Friday (September 30).

We were personally ushered into the Williams hospitality space where driver Nicholas Latifi was sitting (and munching on a bowl of pretzels) before he was due to go into the garage to test out the seat in his car. 

He greeted us warmly before sitting down and getting right into it, clearly a man with a packed schedule. Here’s what he had to say ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix 2022.

This will be your first Grand Prix in Singapore. What are your thoughts about the track so far?

Nicholas Latifi (NL): So firstly, it’s been one of the races on the calendar that I’ve been most excited for and to experience as an F1 driver. You know as you said, it is my first time here even though I have been in this sport for three years.

So I’ve heard a lot about this track and just the event itself from team members and other drivers. It has a reputation for being the most physical track on the calendar by far. You know the humidity, the heat.

As well as the track itself, any street track is going to have an added level of intensity to it. This one has a lot of corners, actually, I think it has the most corners. And they are all real corners. None of them are really flat out so you have to work hard for each one. It’s very bumpy, not a lot of straights so you don’t have time to rest. 

So I’m curious as to how that challenge is going to be and I’m looking forward to experiencing it for the first time tomorrow.

So what are some of the things you are doing to prepare yourself?

NL: You have a lot of drivers who have been doing acclimatisation training. For me, I’m based in London and I’m sure you can imagine that London at this time of the year, is not very suitable to compare to Singapore. So I’ve just been focusing on cardio the last few weeks as I prepare. I’ve been very layered up in full winter gear with four layers on even if it’s like 17 degrees out. Just trying to make it as uncomfortable as possible.

I’ve also set up my bike, my turbo trainer, in my apartment and heating it up to the maximum. Just trying to make it uncomfortable. But of course, nothing really prepares you for going out and actually driving the circuit. That’s the real challenge.

So when did you start preparing for Singapore?

NL: After the last race. So thankfully there was a bit of a longer break from Monza till now so I’ve been preparing for about two weeks now which has been good.

Do you think the car is ready for the rigours of the Singapore track? Do you think it is competitive enough to tackle the challenges?

NL: Unfortunately not. I think this is a track that requires very specific traits for a car to perform well here. You need to have a lot of downforce, you need it to be good over bumps and good at slow corners. There are a lot of slow corners here. These are traits that unfortunately we’ve seen this year that when the circuit requires that, it doesn’t perform as well.

So in that sense, I think it will be a challenge. But you know with a track like this, there are many opportunities to make a difference in other areas and I think the weather can play a part as well potentially on Saturday and Sunday which will be good for us. 

As a driver, you have many strengths. What do you think is going to help you on the Singapore track?

NL: I’ve always been a fan of street tracks. I always find them enjoyable. You get a lot of extra adrenaline driving between the walls. Of course, you don’t want to have any fear in these tracks and you want to really commit to it and not be worried about anything else. So I think that’s my strength. 

So what are you most excited about for Singapore and being here? 

NL: Well, of course, the track and getting to experience that. I think that goes without saying. But also just to see what the event is like. I’ve watched this race so many times on TV and it certainly seems like one of the more happening and atmospheric races. I’ve heard so much about it.

Unfortunately coming here, we don’t always have an abundance of time to actually visit because we are here for work and are in and out. So yeah, I’m just excited about the event.

Can you tell me a little bit about what it’s like working with Alex Albon? How do you guys bounce off each other?

NL: Working with Alex has been great. We were obviously teammates in Formula Two so we got along straight away then both in a personal way and a professional way. Both Alex and I have very similar characters. We are probably the most similar of all the drivers on the grid. I think our working relationship is very similar, the kind of feedback we give is always very aligned which is important to guide the team.

When he rejoined the team last year and we started working together again, it was kind of just like picking up where we left off in 2018 when we were teammates. He’s definitely a driver I remain very friendly with even on the grid and when we were in different places. 

It has been announced that you will be leaving Williams at the end of the year. Do you plan to continue racing after this?

NL: I mean my goal and my ambitions are to remain in F1, of course. I have worked the better half of my life towards that. So naturally, there is some disappointment and sadness that I will be leaving Williams. Obviously, we’ve been together for three years on this journey towards becoming more competitive and I would have loved to continue on this journey with them. 

It’s a bit too early to say what comes next though I mean I hadn’t even really started to think about what will be next until I knew for certain that the decision was official and that decision was only made a few weeks ago. So I’m in that process of trying to think about what’s next and evaluating what’s possible. 


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