Williams F1 Driver Nicholas Latifi Talks Racing Ahead Of Maxim’s Grand Prix Weekend Party In Montreal
The Maxim Grand Prix Party Montreal will feature T-Pain, Wyclef Jean and multiple DJs performing live at Windsor Station.
Gentlemen, start your engines: Maxim is hosting the hottest event of the Canadian Grand Prix Weekend on Saturday, June 18 in Montreal. The Maxim Grand Prix Party Montreal will feature T-Pain, Wyclef Jean and multiple DJs performing live at esteemed venue Windsor Station.
Guests will mingle with artists, celebrities, influencers, moguls and athletes in a high-end playground featuring captivating brand activations, buzzworthy photo ops, race-themed experiences, live performances, and more. Model Kim Bruneau is set to host the A-list soirée with artists including Frank Walker, Kim Lee, Juicy M, Donald Lauture, and Montreal DJ Domeno joining T-Pain and Wyclef Jean. Get your tickets here.
We caught up with Montreal-born Williams driver Nicholas Latifi ahead of Maxim’s racy event to talk the upcoming GP, Drive To Survive, his favorite F1 moments and more.
This will be your first outing at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, a staple of the calendar that has F1 history baked right into its name. What are standout moments from this track that you remember seeing over the years?
I was born here in Montreal and lived in Toronto my whole life. I have a lot of very fond memories of coming to the Grand Prix in Montreal as a kid, even before I got into motorsport racing myself. I don’t remember the first Grand Prix I came to, but I might have been seven or eight years old.
I’ve also done two FP1 sessions here in 2018 and 2019. It was very cool to experience driving in an official Formula One session in front of my home crowd. Without any Canadian bias, I think it’s been one of the more special Grands Prix on the calendar.
It’s always one of the most looked forward to by many drivers and team members because of the way the city embraces the weekend. Everything happens in the heart of the city, which is not very common for a lot of other Grand Prix races. It’s also very special to be back after two years off with COVID.
Being a proud Canadian who was born in Montreal and resides in Toronto, you’re surely getting even more fan support than usual. What kind of reaction have you been getting in the leadup to the Canadian GP?
I flew straight from Baku from the previous race to Montreal. So I’ve just been taking the time to meet up with family and friends that I haven’t seen in a while before it gets busy. I’ve definitely felt a lot of home support since being here.
I think once we get into the on-track activities, that will feel quite special. I’ve spent a lot of time on the Grand Prix weekends prior to me being a racing driver. I’m looking forward to feeling that extra buzz and energy that comes with having a home Grand Prix.
Williams stands as one of the all-time great teams in F1 history. What’s it like to race under such a prestigious badge?
When I joined Williams as the race driver in 2020, I was very much aware of the team’s history and pedigree—being such a successful team from all time to the second most successful time for championships. So just walking around the factory those first few times and realizing that this is one of the most special teams to be a part of, irrespective of the results.
It’s been very, very special and a privilege to have driven for this team for three years. They’ve given a lot of drivers their first opportunity in Formula One. A lot of Canadians had their first opportunities with them, but they’ve given a lot of drivers in general the opportunity to break into the sport and show what they can do.
So, of course, for that, I always have a feeling of gratitude for Williams. It’s been a very cool journey to be on within the past three years, and they’re in the rebuilding phase with new ownership and new management to try and get the team back to a place of more competitiveness.
What are some of your favorite Williams F1 moments?
If I’m thinking of moments I’ve been a part of, it’s when we had the double point scoring finish in Budapest. On the personal side, that was a very special race for me; getting my first points in F1. I was running P3 for the whole first stints in a car that shouldn’t have been P3.
That was not the quickest car at that time. But bringing it home for a double points finish with my teammates, and then those points proved critical in securing our eighth place in the constructors championship last year. Seeing the whole morale boost it had on the team was a nice reward for everyone. It’s still a tricky period for the team; we’re not getting the results we want, so that was probably my favorite memory with the team so far.
The team was also featured prominently in the latest season of Netflix’s Drive to Survive, which has exploded F1’s popularity in the U.S. Did you watch it?
Yeah, I have watched most of it, but I haven’t seen all of the episodes from the last season. I watched the Williams episode because I was naturally very curious to see that one. I tended to have watched previous seasons and I think it’s great that Williams was featured more last season. Especially after not really being in it two seasons ago.
I think overall the show has had a huge boost for the popularity of F1, especially since they’ve been trying to break into the U.S market. Now there are obviously more races like we’ve had in Miami, and there will be one in Las Vegas next year. I think it’s been very important to grow the sport and showcase the sport to that audience.
I think all of the drivers and other team members involved in it behind the scenes will say that there’s definitely a part of it that can seem a bit Hollywood. There are definitely things that are maybe dramatized a little bit, which is not a criticism. It’s just the way the show has been edited, which I think there’s probably always a fine line of showcasing the way the sport really is and maybe trying to make it a little bit more exciting to attract new audiences.
But overall, I think there’s been a huge, more of a positive coming from the show than any potential negative.
What’s the vibe from drivers when Netflix comes around? Is it like these guys are interlopers in the paddock, or is it more, “Oh cool, I get to tell my story today?”
Yes, I think it’s always quite unique when the Netflix crew follows around your team for a weekend. It’s always the same few people in the paddock. And they’re almost a part of the F1 traveling circus. Right now, you know who they are and when they’re there, and they’re all very nice people. So you get along with them. You just try and joke around with them and almost pretend like the camera’s not even there.
What other GPs are you looking forward to on this year’s F1 calendar?
I think naturally Miami was a race I was looking forward to. We’ve obviously done that one, but again because it was another race on the home side in North America. But Silverstone is also a race I’m looking forward to. It’s always been my favorite track on the calendar. It’s a home race as well for the team.
Then probably the other two I have not yet experienced are Japan and Singapore. I think both for different reasons. Yeah, I’m super excited to drive those tracks.