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Nicholas Latifi becomes Williams new reserve driver

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Nicholas Latifi will join Williams F1 as a reserve driver in 2019, joining Robert Kubica and George Russell.

Latifi will get time behind the wheel with six first practice sessions during Grand Prix weekends, two in-season test sessions, one pre-season test day at Barcelona and two Pirelli tire tests as well as conducting simulator training at the Williams factory.

“I’m thrilled to be joining an iconic team like Williams as a reserve driver for 2019,” said Latifi at Formula1.com. “It’s a fantastic opportunity to continue my F1 development, and to build my on-track experience with more FP1 sessions and the rookie and Pirelli tests.”

Latifi has previous experience as a test driver at Renault and a test/reserve driver with Force India.

Last year Latifi competed in his second Formula 2 campaign. He scored one win and two more three podiums.

“Nicholas has been racing successfully in the junior formula, he has the racing pedigree that we’re looking for and he is incredibly intelligent and diligent,” said deputy team principal Claire Williams. “Nicholas will drive in FP1 sessions and at several tests next year. Along with this, he will undertake simulator work for the team. We are certain he will be a great fit for the team and we look forward to working with Nicholas next season.”

F1 races in Austin, Mexico City hitting financial rough patches

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AUSTIN, Texas — Two of Formula One’s three races in North America are facing financial issues that are raising concern about their future.

Organizers of the U.S. Grand Prix won’t get at least $20 million from the state of Texas for the 2018 race after missing a paperwork deadline set by state law. And new questions lurk about the future of the Mexican Grand Prix after the country’s new president suggested the government may not spend on the race like it has the last four years.

Both races have been popular with drivers and fans, and have enjoyed key dates on the F1 calendar. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton clinched season championships in Texas in 2015 and in Mexico City in 2017 and 2018.

Officials in Formula One and at the Circuit of the Americas, host of the U.S. Grand Prix, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.