As the teams head to Australia for the season-opening race in Melbourne this weekend, a few reserve driver roles are being filled. Renault and Williams F1 have ticked their reserve driver boxes.
Canadian race driver Nicholas Latifi, 20, has joined Renault Sport Formula One Team as a Test Driver with a long-term development programme.
Latifi, who will also race in the GP2 Series in 2016 with DAMS, will be put through a test schedule to enable him to gain his Super Licence with a view to participating in at least one Free Practice [FP1] session during the course of this year’s Formula 1 season.
Frédéric Vasseur, Renault Sport Racing, Racing Director:
“Nicholas is a fast developing young talent who has competed in a diverse selection of championships in his short career to date. We are excited at the prospect of nurturing him into a Formula 1 ready entity at such a dynamic time for the team. As well as contesting the GP2 Series – which is a perfect proving ground for new drivers – Nicholas will go through a programme with us to attain his Super Licence with a view to contesting at least one FP1 session this year. We’re proud to have him on board.”
“Being named test driver for the Renault Sport Formula One Team is something very special – an amazing opportunity. There’s a lot of history behind the Renault name in F1, so to be a part of that, and get the chance to learn from them and gain expertise in a full factory team, is really going to help my development.
“My dream has always been to reach Formula One, and there’s a lot of hard work still to do, but this is another step towards me fulfilling my potential and earning my place on the grid.
“F1 is totally unlike any other category of motorsport, so being immersed in that environment I’ll be a bit like a sponge – absorbing as much information as possible. Hopefully, I can apply a lot of what I learn to my racing in GP2 this season.”
For Williams, they chose a known entity in Paul di Resta who is no stranger to Formula 1.
Paul made his Formula One debut in 2009 as a test driver with Force India Formula One Team, after winning the European Formula 3 Championship in 2006. Paul subsequently secured the DTM title in 2010 and in 2011 made his Formula One race debut with Force India where he spent three seasons with the team, scoring a total of 121 points.
Speaking about his new role Paul said:
“I am delighted to be joining Williams as reserve driver and look forward to the 2016 season. It will be a busy year combining both driving in DTM with Mercedes AMG, and attending the Formula One Grands Prix in my new reserve driver role. I will be giving my full support to both and look forward to the exciting possibilities the year has ahead. I would like to thank Claire and Williams for the opportunity to be part of the team.”
Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal of WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING added:
“We are delighted to welcome someone with Paul’s experience to the team. Having competed in 58 Formula One races throughout his career Paul’s racing knowledge will be invaluable. We are also confident that given his recent Formula One and current DTM experience Paul will be able to confidently step into the FW38 and assist with our 2016 campaign.”