Nicholas Latifi makes winning F2 return at Spa

Nicholas Latifi made a dramatic return to the top step of the FIA Formula 2 Championship podium today after a lights-to-flag victory in the Sprint Race at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium.

The Canadian arrived at the season’s ninth round determined to put a recent run of bad luck behind him, and he delivered in dominant style during Sunday’s 18-lap race, turning a reverse-grid pole into his first win of 2018 and the second of his F2 career.

Nicholas enjoyed a strong getaway in his DAMS Racing machine, fending off an early challenge from Feature Race winner Nyck de Vries, before pulling clear of the field and eventually taking the chequered flag by 10.4sec from Lando Norris.

Setting the fastest lap time was the icing on the cake and earned Nicholas a maximum haul of 17 points and his first podium since the championship visited Azerbaijan.

“These races are never straightforward, but this was a good one!” Nicholas acknowledged. “The most important thing was maintaining my position into turn one – and that was tough with tons of wheelspin off the line on this low grip circuit. But the car gave me the confidence to put my head down and do my job. Once I’d managed to pull a bit of a gap, it was all about managing the tyres.

“The win comes as a big confidence boost, especially after the struggles so far this season,” he added. “Although we’ve sometimes had the pace to fight for good results, something has always seemed to conspire against us. This weekend has been encouraging – and a bit of a relief too. Now the goal is to keep on going in this way.”

Nicholas left Belgium with a haul of 21 points following a P8 finish during Saturday’s Feature Race – a result he believes should have been better.

“I was missing something in qualifying, and I had an issue with the engine which was switching to safety mode and cutting revs, but Spa is a good track for overtaking so I was still hoping for more than P8 in the race,” he explained.

“I went for the alternate strategy, starting on the hard tyre and ending on the softs. It was a good start, and I made up a few positions, but I think I hurt the tyres a bit too much early on. Towards the end, the softs didn’t give me the speed I had anticipated.”

The 23-year-old’s focus now switches to the championship’s tenth round which will take place at Monza, Italy next weekend from 31 August – 2 September.

Nicholas said: “I finished this weekend on a high, so between now and Monza we will go through the data and understand more about our performance and how we can put the car and the tyres in that window again. The goal is more of the same – to keep the momentum.”

Nicholas’s FIA Formula 2 Championship programme is proudly supported by Royal Bank of Canada, Lavazza and Sofina.

 

Nicholas is fired up for F2 success at Spa

Nicholas Latifi can’t wait to get back on track as his FIA Formula 2 Championship campaign resumes at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium this weekend (24-26 August).

Refreshed and fully motivated after a four-week break since the previous event in Hungary, the 23-year-old is determined to put his recent run of bad luck behind him and believes racing at one of his favourite high-speed circuits will provide the perfect opportunity to get back to the sharp end of the grid where he feels he belongs.

“Spa is fast and flowing, the type of track I enjoy the most. My goal is to build on the positives that were there during my last race weekend in Hungary. Even if the results didn’t go our way, my race pace was encouraging, particularly in the Sprint Race,” he said.

“Myself and the team are motivated to get back to what we know we should be fighting for. There are four race weekends left in this year’s championship and I really want to end the season on a high note.”

On Monday Nicholas returned to DAMS Racing’s headquarters in France to continue the final phase of his pre-race preparations with the team and his race engineer.

“Analysing the data from our most recent races, we made some interesting conclusions at the factory. We’re hoping to use that information and enjoy a positive weekend in Belgium.

“It’s been good to have a month-long break because the races came thick and fast earlier this season and that made it hard to analyse every piece of detail,” Nicholas explained.

“The switch to a new Dallara chassis for this season means I have had to set aside a lot of the valuable experience I gained in 2017. Some knowledge is transferable – for example, how to conserve the tyres and to avoid overheating them – but in terms of how to extract the maximum from the car, it is completely different. With that in mind, I’ve been working on adapting my driving style to suit the 2018 car more effectively.”

Nicholas kept busy during the summer break: “I conducted a third test for the Sahara Force India F1 Team at the Hungaroring, returned to Canada to spend time with my family and did some karting and simulator work to keep my skills sharp. Now I’m looking forward to getting back to enjoying my racing.”

The weather at Spa is famously unpredictable, but Nicholas is relishing the early prospect of rain in the Ardennes countryside this weekend.

“The lap is more than 7km long and it can be wet at one end of the circuit but completely dry at the other,” he explained. “The forecast is for a little bit of rain, which could work in my favour because I always go well in wet conditions – I was P2 at Spa last year in the wet qualifying session for the Feature Race.”

Nicholas’s F2 race weekend begins on Friday with free practice at 12.55, before qualifying at 16.55. Saturday’s 25-lap Feature Race starts at 16.45 ahead of Sunday’s 18-lap Sprint Race that gets underway at 10.50. (Times quoted are GMT+2 / EDT+6).