After three-seasons, Nicholas Latifi's Formula 1 career at Williams is coming to an end after the team announced his departure after the 2022 campaign. The affable Canadian has not had the career he hoped for, with just two points finishes and earned himself an unfair place in F1 ignominy after his crash at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix triggered that Safety Car. But Williams have decided that Latifi is not the right man to help drive the team forward and back into the midfield and be regular points contenders. That task will now be shouldered by Alex Albon and his new teammate, who Williams say will be announced "in due course." So, who are the major contenders for the 2023 ride?
Two main contenders for Williams seat
The logical, and obvious two contenders to replace Latifi already both have links to Williams. Logan Sargeant or Nyck De Vries are the leading two drivers - both coming with considerable upsides. Sargeant is a member of the Williams Driver Academy and has enjoyed a relatively successful Formula 2 campaign in 2022 with two wins thus far. However, his form has tailed off in recent times, with five retirements in the last nine races allowing title ambitions to turn into a fight for second with Theo Pourchaire behind run-away champion Felipe Drugovich. Meanwhile, on the plus side, Sargeant is American and F1 is rather keen to get an American driver on the grid - as are the teams in what would be a major marketing coup. The recent Red Bull chase for Colton Herta attests to that much. But an American driver would need to be in front-running, or high-midfield machinery instead of trundling around fighting for the odd Q3 or points position. In this current F1 boom, an American driver is desired, but it must be handled in the right way, at the right time. If Williams were closer to the midfield on a regular basis, the move would make more sense than it does on paper at the moment. As for De Vries, after years of trying to get to F1 - it seems he has three teams swooning over him for 2023. Alpine, AlphaTauri and Williams are all interested in the services of the 2019 Formula 2 champion - with Williams being where he impressed with ninth on debut at the Italian Grand Prix, subbing for an ill Albon. As Williams is in its rebuilding stage, it needs an experienced driver to work with Albon to drive the team forward. With a Formula E title and years spent as a Mercedes reserve behind him, De Vries is the standout choice.
The left-field candidates
Although his departure from Haas is widely expected, Mick Schumacher still has a "50-50" chance of staying at the team for 2023, according to boss Gunther Steiner. Schumacher is quick but lacks consistency and is prone to the odd big crash. A move to the more relaxed surroundings of Williams could prove beneficial but it does look as if the German will depart F1 at the end of 2022, with a return certainly possible sometime in the future. An outside candidate would be W Series racer Jamie Chadwick who still harbours hopes of becoming the first female to race in F1 since Lella Lombardi almost 50 years ago. However, a move from W Series straight to F1 is not going to happen. There is a huge gulf between the two, with Chadwick's best hopes being some time in Formula 2 or Formula 3, if she can finally find a seat. Occasional FP1 outings for Williams are not out of the question, but an F1 race drive is still far on the horizon for Chadwick.