Latifi targets Russell through qualifying improvements
Williams driver Nicholas Latifi believes his strong race performances were masked by his deficit to team-mate George Russell in qualifying.
Latifi secured three 11th place finishes in his rookie season despite successfully making it into Q2 only once across the year. By contrast, Russell featured in the session nine times for Williams and made the top 10 shoot-out with Mercedes in the Sakhir Grand Prix.
The two drivers were closely matched in their Sunday performances with Latifi finishing more than two positions down on Russell only twice.
"I think naturally, that kind of understanding about what I need to do in the races is a stronger area for me," he told GPFans Global in an interview towards the end of last year.
"Not to say that is a weakness of George's. George is obviously just exceptionally strong on a Saturday where in general I feel I hadn't extracted the most out of the car but more specifically, myself in a lot of the qualifying, I hadn't finished and been like oh, where do I find this time.
"Most of the time, I finished a lap and was like 'oh, I could have matched that time and I made a mistake in that corner or my out lap wasn't perfect and my brakes weren't in the window'."
Russell's eyecatching performances earned widespread praise throughout the year and, when Lewis Hamilton was unable to race in Sakhir, Mercedes elected to run the Briton over it's two listed reserve drivers.
However, whilst Latifi acknowledged his team-mate's skills, he pointed to Russell's "Mr Saturday" nickname as evidence he himself was doing things right on race day.
"There have always been some things where we were trying to put things together which is obviously very difficult in any category, specifically F1," he added. "I think George was exceptionally good at doing that.
"What is he now, 'Mr Saturday' or something? But I think that highlights the fact that I am relatively closer to the performance in races that the tyre management, the old strength of mine in F2 is clearly there still.
"But I definitely need to improve Saturday's because having that starting position would make such a big difference in the race."
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