Nicholas continues hot F2 pace at Sochi

Nicholas Latifi extended his impressive run of form this weekend, collecting his second podium from three events during the FIA F2 Championship round at Sochi, Russia.

The Canadian was one of the standout performers at the penultimate round of the series. He followed his best Qualifying result of the season with P2 in Saturday’s Feature Race and put himself in winning contention during Sunday’s Sprint Race.

Nicholas started the Feature Race from P4, but a prolonged stint on the Supersoft tyre dropped him to P11 before a switch to Soft rubber sparked a stunning fightback. The 23-year-old picked his way through the field, claiming the runner-up spot with three laps to go and completing a 1-2 for his DAMS Racing team.

“P2 was a great result, especially for the team, and after my victory last month at Spa it felt terrific to be back on the podium again,” Nicholas said. “The feeling in the car was good and I knew I had the pace to win.”

“What knocked my chances was a combination of too much wheelspin off the line and the extra time I spent on the worn Supersofts. Like in Monza, my team-mate had the pit priority here – that’s normal – and so I had an extra lap before I could come in for new tyres. I did the best I could, but that lap cost me more than six seconds.”

Nicholas got the Sprint Race off to a textbook start. He leapt from P7 to P2 in the first few corners, before his car was sent spinning off the track into retirement after Alessio Lorandi slammed into the back of it under braking at turn 5. The Italian later received a heavy penalty for causing the collision.

“Going into the race I knew I had the pace to lead. I got a good start and the first few corners were amazing. I was P2, thinking this really was my race to win, and then bang – it was over,” Nicholas explained.

“It was a crazy move from Lorandi and of course I am very angry about it. Nonetheless it’s still been a very positive weekend, with my best Qualifying and Feature Race results of the season so far. I have to be happy with that.”

Nicholas also featured in the Formula One action at Sochi, tackling the opening Free Practice session as part of his test and development role with the Racing Point Force India Team. He completed 24 laps during Friday’s 90-minute session, helping to evaluate new upgrades for the VJM11 on Pirelli’s Ultrasoft and Hypersoft tyres.

“The team is still learning about the new package and I am glad I could help collect more data on those test items,” he said. “It has been a couple of months since I drove the car and I could definitely feel the progress the team has made recently.

“The balance of the car on the Hypersofts took some getting used to, but it improved with each lap and it was more good experience. After the session I had to go straight to the F2 practice – I had to run to the other paddock to make it in time. I must admit my F2 car felt a bit strange after 120kms of Formula One power.”

The 2018 F2 season enters an eight-week break now until it concludes at the Yas Marina Circuit at Abu Dhabi on the 23-25 November.

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

 

Sochi double for Nicholas Latifi

Nicholas Latifi is set for a busy weekend at the upcoming Russian Grand Prix (28 – 30 Sept) where he will tackle the Sochi Autodrom circuit in both the Formula One and Formula Two categories.

The 23-year-old Canadian will first take to the track on Friday, driving the Racing Point Force India Team’s 2018 F1 car in the opening Free Practice (FP1) as part of his test and development driver role.

Nicholas will drive Sergio Perez’s car for the 90-minute session. It will be his fifth outing in the team’s 2018 challenger and follows FP1 appearances in Canada and Germany and development tests in Barcelona and Hungary.

Immediately after FP1, Nicholas will cross to the Formula Two paddock and strap into his DAMS Racing car to begin the penultimate round of the F2 season.

“It will be my first time mixing F2 and F1 at the same weekend,” Nicholas explained. “The FP1 and F2 Free Practice sessions run back-to-back on Friday, so it’s going to be quite exciting. After FP1 I’ll have time for a quick debrief and change of race suit before I’ll get out on track again.”

“I’m not sure how the F1 laps will affect my F2 preparation because there is a big difference between the performance of the two cars. I hope it will be a benefit, giving me some references and familiarity on track.”

Sochi’s 5.84km street circuit is a new addition to this season’s F2 calendar but Nicholas is able to draw on a previous appearance there three years ago.
“I did a one-off GP2 race in 2015, so I do have some experience around the track which should help me get up to speed a bit quicker,” he said.

“The track has a lot in common with Baku, but with a higher average speed. There are lots of 90-degree corners and most are taken at a similar speed, so it’s important to get the car set-up correct for that particular range. Getting that right I think will be key to finding a good driving rhythm.”

“The surface is very smooth and isn’t known for high tyre degradation, but with Pirelli nominating the Supersoft and Soft compounds I’m anticipating an exciting Feature Race on Saturday.”

Having sealed a win and two top-five finishes from his last four F2 races, Nicholas hopes to collect another strong haul of championship points this week.
“It’s been about a month since the last round at Monza, so it’s exciting to get back to F2,” he said. “The last two rounds have been quite good, and I’m looking forward to carrying that momentum to Sochi and on to the end of the season.”

The action in Russia begins on Friday with F1 Free Practice at 1100hrs (local), before F2 Free Practice at 1300hrs and Qualifying at 1655hrs. Saturday’s Feature Race starts at 1645hrs and the weekend wraps up on Sunday with the Sprint Race from 1120hrs.

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

Nicholas adds Sochi FP1 to his Formula One programme

Nicholas Latifi will tackle his third Formula One Free Practice of 2018 at the upcoming Russian Grand Prix in Sochi (28 – 30 September).

As part of his test and development role with the Racing Point Force India F1 Team, 23-year-old Nicholas will drive the team’s latest VJM11 chassis at Friday’s FP1 session. He will take the wheel of Sergio Perez’s car for the opening 90-minute stint around the Sochi Autodrom.

It will be Nicholas’s fifth outing in the team’s 2018 challenger, following similar appearances before the Grands Prix in Canada and Germany and development days in Barcelona and Hungary.

“It’s exciting to get another opportunity to take the wheel and to build experience of a Grand Prix weekend,” Nicholas said. “I drove the car for more than 450km at the Hungaroring in July and now I’m looking forward to returning to an FP1 – it’s a completely different challenge.

“It’s important to keep learning and building on my F1 experience. This will be my third FP1, and with each one I’m getting more and more comfortable in the car. My main goal is to do a good job for the team – to bring the car back in one piece with good data and feedback after some quality running.

“I have been to Sochi only once before, back in 2015, but it’s important I build the speed as quickly as possible. What we do in that session is going to directly influence the race weekend.”

The Russian Grand Prix also plays host to the penultimate round of the FIA Formula Two Championship, meaning Nicholas will have a full schedule for the weekend.

“It will be the first time that I’ll be mixing an FP1 session with an F2 round and I’m looking forward to seeing how that will turn out,” he said. “The Friday sessions are back-to-back, so I’ll literally be jumping straight out of the F1 car and running over to the F2 paddock for the practice session.”

The Russian Grand Prix FP1 begins at 1130hrs (GMT+3) on Friday 28 September, with F2 Practice following at 1300hrs.

Double points for Nicholas Latifi at Monza

Nicholas Latifi continued his resurgent form in the FIA Formula 2 Championship by charging to two top-five finishes during this weekend’s races at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Italy.

A week after claiming a victory at Spa, the Canadian settled back into his place at the sharp end of the competition – taking P5 in Saturday’s Feature Race and P4 in a tight Sprint Race to bag 18 championship points.

“It feels great to come away with such good points after a strong weekend – especially because for the past two years Monza has been my weakest track in the calendar,” the 23-year-old said.

“Coming off the win last week I was carrying plenty of positive energy, and I’m happy to have been able to continue that run of form. It felt good to be battling at the same pace with the championship leaders. Okay, it’s where I feel I should have been at the beginning of the year – but it’s nice to be back!”

After qualifying in P5 – his best session of the season so far – Nicholas quickly settled into P4 in Saturday’s Feature Race, before the leaderboard was turned on its head.

“Like most teams we opted to start on supersofts and end on the medium tyre, because nobody expected the performance of the supersofts to drop off as quickly as it did,” Nicholas explained.

“That gave the three drivers on the alternate strategy a huge performance gain. We didn’t go for that strategy because starting from near the front it was a big risk – a safety car anywhere before the final seven laps would have ruined any advantage.”

Nicholas remained in the leading group on the same strategy until the pit window opened and they dived in for fresh rubber. Nicholas however, was forced to complete another lap before he could come in.

“My team-mate Alex had priority on the road so I had to wait an extra lap for him to pit before I could change my tyres,” he explained. “The team calculated this cost me six seconds – and that put me out of the fight. It was some some consolation to overtake Norris near the end for P5, but everyone was so similar on pace I couldn’t do any more.”

Starting Sunday’s Sprint Race from P4, Nicholas had a sense of deja-vu after a terrific start vaulted him into an early lead. “I thought okay, let’s go for a repeat of Spa!”

“Unfortunately I wasn’t able to maintain the pace I needed to stay clear of DRS, and at this track, if you are just a little bit quicker it’s a massive advantage. Lacking just two-tenths a lap was enough to slip back and I dropped to P4 – but I still had enough left to hold off Norris, who was coming back at the end.”

There is now a four-week break before Nicholas resumes his F2 campaign at the next round in Sochi (28-30 September). “That gives us a good amount of time for more analysis of went well at these two races and of course the areas we need to improve. The goal now is to keep up this positive momentum.”

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