Backmarker Nicholas Latifi left F1 fans – and Charles Leclerc – shocked after setting the fastest time in the final practice session ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix.
It has been a season of struggle for Latifi and his Williams team, who sit at the foot of the constructors’ standings. The Canadian has been comprehensively outpaced by teammate Alex Albon, as well as suffering a number of crashes.
That has led to speculation he will be replaced at the end of the season, with Alpine’s highly-rated reserve driver, Oscar Piatri, being linked with his seat.
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However, Latifi has shown he is a capable driver in the wet this season, surprisingly reaching Q3 in qualifying for the British Grand Prix. The drivers were presented with similar conditions for the third practice session in Budapest.
For most of the session, full wet weather tyres were the only rubber to be on. However, the track dried just enough towards the end of the session for intermediates to be fitted.
That meant being on the track at the latest possible moment was key. And Latifi took advantage by posting the fastest time right at the end, a huge 0.661seconds clear of Charles Leclerc.
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The Ferrari driver enquired about Latifi’s time over time radio. One being told the ex-Formula 2 man had posted a lap of 1: 41.48, Leclerc replied with a bleeped-out expletive before asking: “On inters?”
F1 and Williams themselves were also surprised to see Latifi at the top of the timesheets. The official Williams account tweeted: “WHATTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT.”
Meanwhile, a fan posted: “Senna was the Rain’s King.. until Latifi!” while many jokingly called Latifi ‘the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time)’ or ‘Goatifi’.”
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