Latifi leaves Bahrain in Formula 2 title mix

Nicholas Latifi capped a strong opening round to the 2019 FIA Formula 2 Championship with a second podium finish in Bahrain today, leaving the 23-year-old at the heart of the title battle.

The Canadian stormed to victory in the Feature Race on Saturday meaning he took up eighth place on the grid for Sunday’s Sprint Race at the Sakhir International Circuit.

A strong start rewarded Latifi with third position on the opening lap and he was promoted to second when different strategies split the field.

Latifi battled DAMS team-mate Sergio Sette Camara for the lead but ultimately stayed behind his opponent, and came home third once the differing pit strategies played out.

“I tried to force Sergio into a mistake but he defended very well,” commented Latifi.

“I settled for P3 at the end. I had a pace advantage for a few laps but it wasn’t easy to get by and I was wary of the tyre wear so I backed off.

“I was having to push a bit harder than I wanted to at the beginning. If I had got Sergio at the start I think I would have won the race irrespective of the pit stop strategies but that’s racing, and I’m happy with the double podiums this weekend.”

Saturday’s win and Sunday’s P3 have put Latifi second in the Drivers’ Championship on 35 points, just two shy of current leader Luca Ghiotto.

“It’s a great start to the season for me and the team – Feature Race win, Sprint Race podium, and a good haul of points in the championship is just what I wanted,” he said.

Latifi will be in action again in Bahrain next week when he takes to the wheel of ROKiT Williams Racing’s FW42 during the in-season rookie test, as part of his duties as Reserve Driver. It will be his first experience of the team’s 2019 Formula 1 car.

“I’m looking forward to getting to drive this year’s Formula 1 car and gain some more experience in the championship,” he said.

“Of course the main aim is to assist the team in gaining more understanding of the car and I’ll do all I can to maximise the day both for the team and for myself.”

Round two of the F2 championship takes place in Baku, Azerbaijan from 26 – 28 April.

Nicholas’s F2 campaign is supported by Royal Bank of Canada, Lavazza and Sofina.

 

 

Latifi makes winning start to 2019 F2 season

Nicholas Latifi got his 2019 FIA Formula 2 campaign off to a perfect start with an emphatic win in the opening Feature Race in Bahrain on Saturday.

Latifi and DAMS travelled to the Sakhir International Circuit following an encouraging pre-season period, and the 23-year-old qualified a strong fourth on the grid.

The Canadian quickly worked his way up to second at the start and bided his time before taking the lead at one-third distance, opening a substantial advantage over his rivals.

At the mandatory pit stop, an error while changing wheels cost Latifi valuable time and he dropped to fourth, but he swiftly set about making amends for the setback.

In a determined recovery, Latifi passed the top-three drivers across three successive laps to reclaim the lead and take the chequered flag in P1 after 32 laps of flat-out racing.

“There’s no better way to start the season,” Latifi said. “I’m really, really happy for that. Over the winter in testing the guys worked really hard.

“We were quite confident of the race pace going into today. It was definitely not an easy race because of the pit stop, but these things happen – it’s the first race of the season for us all.

“Thankfully the team gave me a great car so I still had the pace to get back to the front, so I’m really happy I could reward all of their hard work.”

Latifi, who also holds the role of ROKiT Williams Racing Formula 1 Reserve Driver, was delighted to begin his 2019 title bid with the same race-winning pace he showed in 2018.

“For me the goal this season was to start where I left off last year – I kept saying it in so many interviews! And that’s what we’ve done. I’m very, very happy.”

Victory in the Feature Race means Latifi will start Sunday’s reversed-grid Sprint Race from P8. The race begins at 1415hrs local time.

Nicholas’s F2 campaign is supported by Royal Bank of Canada, Lavazza and Sofina.

Latifi primed for Formula 2 season opener

Nicholas Latifi will return to racing action this weekend when the 2019 FIA Formula 2 Championship gets underway at the Sakhir International Circuit in Bahrain [29 – 31 March].

The Canadian and his DAMS Racing team have enjoyed a busy winter of preparation in anticipation of the new season, honing personal fitness and refining car set-up, in order to hit the ground running in the pursuit of the title.

Having completed six days of running in the F2/18 car – which features state-of-the-art aerodynamics and a 3.4-litre V6 engine – at Jerez and Barcelona, undertaking an extensive programme, Latifi is ready to push on in Bahrain.

“I’m very excited and looking forward to finally getting going,” said Latifi, who also holds the role of ROKiT Williams Racing’s Formula 1 reserve driver.

“I’m really hoping to start off on the right foot, it’s the first race of the season and I have very high ambitions for this year.
“Getting off to a strong start and having a clean weekend will bring a lot of confidence so that’s the plan.”

Latifi has prior test and race experience of the 5.4km circuit that has traditionally acted as the season opener to the 12-event Formula 2 championship. And he hopes that familiarity will help his title bid get off to a positive start.

“This is the season I’m most confident going into,” he explained.

“I feel there are not really any unknowns. The previous years I was inexperienced, we had the new car and last year I was recovering from an illness.

“Going into this year I know the areas I need to improve to put in a championship run, and I know where I’m strong too, and my focus is about delivering consistently weekend by weekend.

“I’m confident that we’re going to be able to be competing up at the front each time. We’ve done a lot of hard work over the winter, so we’re excited to get going.”

The 23-year-old’s weekend will begin with a 45-minute practice session on Friday morning and that afternoon a 30-minute qualifying session will determine the grid for Saturday’s Feature Race. A shorter-length Sprint Race on Sunday will cap the opening round’s action.

Latifi will remain in Bahrain for next week’s first in-season F1 test, when he will make his debut behind the wheel of the ROKiT Williams Racing’s FW42.

Nicholas’s 2019 racing campaign is supported by Royal Bank of Canada, Lavazza and Sofina.

Nicholas encouraged by F2 test pace at Barcelona

Nicholas Latifi and DAMS were left buoyed by their performance during the second and final pre-season test for the FIA Formula 2 Championship in Spain.

Following three days of running at Jerez last week, 23-year-old Nicholas headed to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for another three days of action across Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

The Canadian, a multiple race winner in the championship, completed 246 laps of the circuit as he and DAMS had their final on-track running as part of the build-up to the opening round of 2019.

Nicholas, who also acts as the test and reserve driver for the ROKiT Williams Racing Formula 1 team, carried out a wide-ranging programme which included qualifying runs, race simulations, and pit stop practice.

“When we focused on our race runs we were very strong,” he enthused. “It was good to complete those race runs to give the team some positivity and encouragement.”

Nicholas finished on the fringes of the top 10 and stressed that there is much more potential to come from him and the DAMS-prepared F2/18.

“I didn’t get any meaningful laps on the option tyre, so there is more to come there,” he explained. “On day two I had to abort runs due to mistakes – the tyres and the balance of the car were never quite in the right window – and on Thursday I kept getting held up in traffic.”

“It’s not how I wanted to end with the performance running, but it’s better that it happens now – I don’t mind being slow now if it means we’re going to be quick in Bahrain! The fact is we ended with a race run, and it looked very competitive, we were very strong.”

Nicholas’s next appearance behind the wheel of the F2/18 will come when the 12-round 2019 FIA Formula 2 Championship begins at the Sakhir International Circuit in Bahrain on 29 – 31 March.

Nicholas’s F2 campaign is supported by Royal Bank of Canada, Lavazza and Sofina.