Latifi leaves tricky Monaco with Formula 2 title lead

Nicholas Latifi remains in the lead of the FIA Formula 2 Championship despite enduring a challenging weekend in Monaco.

The Canadian underlined his pure pace by leading the way through Thursday’s opening free practice session around the iconic streets of the Principality.

He set the third-fastest time during qualifying but due to the split group system, and a penalty for taking to the circuit under a red light, the 23-year-old was relegated to eighth on the starting grid for Friday’s Feature Race.

Latifi remained in the thick of the action but a mistake by Race Control under a red flag period split the field in two, and he was among those who were erroneously placed a lap down.

He pushed hard to return to the points-paying positions, but a drive-through penalty for an opportunistic overtake on Sean Gelael left the DAMS driver in P12.

“I started off the weekend quite strong and felt really confident with the car,” Latifi said. “I was going quicker with each lap.

“I was quite unlucky with the penalty as the red light literally came on as I was approaching the white line to join the circuit. It was a shame, especially with the split qualifying session. In qualifying, I pushed hard and was third in my group, but with the penalty it meant eighth on the grid.

“Race 1 was one to forget. I believe that all the moves I made, apart from the one on Sean – which I got the penalty for – were all legitimate. My rivals closed the door on me and that was unfair. Maybe I should have been a bit smarter, but they didn’t drive smartly in those situations. The incident with Race Control, and the extra pit stop, effectively put paid to my race.”

Latifi consequently started the Sprint Race from P12 and with overtaking opportunities limited nonetheless managed to recover to P10.

“I didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks and get an undue penalty for the next race. I kept it calm and got into the top 10,” he explained.

“Two extra points for setting fastest time of any driver to finish within the top 10 was one positive from a weekend to forget. There’s lessons to learn from my side.”

Now on a total of 95 points, Latifi holds the lead in the Drivers’ Championship, one point ahead of his closest rival. The next round of his Formula 2 programme will take place at Circuit Paul Ricard, as a support act to the French Grand Prix, on 21 – 23 June.

Before that, Nicholas will take part in the Formula 1 free practice session for his home Grand Prix in Canada on Friday, 7 June when he drives the FW42 as part of his duties as ROKiT Williams Racing Reserve Driver.

Formula 2 title leader Latifi primed for Monaco

The glamorous streets of Monaco are the setting for the fourth round of the FIA Formula 2 Championship, where Nicholas Latifi is seeking to extend his title advantage this weekend.

The Canadian heads to Monaco with a 26-point advantage in the Drivers’ standings after taking three victories from the opening three events in Bahrain, Azerbaijan and Spain.

Latifi has been kept busy since the most recent Formula 2 event with two days of Formula 1 testing in Spain last week as part of his duties as ROKiT Williams Racing’s Reserve Driver.

But with Monaco looming on the horizon the focus is now firmly on Formula 2. “It’s exciting to be getting back into it with Formula 2,” the 23-year-old said.

“Things have been going really well so far so it’s important to continue that momentum – we need to score points consistently.

“Monaco is always a challenge as it’s a different street track compared to anything else. It’s tight, there’s no margin for error, and if you’re wide you’re most likely going to end up in a crash.”

Part of Monaco’s unique flavour comes in the form of the qualifying session, with the usual 30-minute shootout replaced by two 15-minute sessions, with 10 cars in each.

Driving car #6, Latifi will run in the even-numbered group, which includes nearest title rivals Luca Ghiotto and Nyck de Vries. It places an extra emphasis on one-lap pace at a venue where track position is critical.

“For qualifying we have split groups, so the fastest driver from the quicker group will be on pole, then the fastest driver from the slower group second, and so on,” he explained.

“Most of my championship contenders are in the same group, so the level of talent in the even-numbered group is higher if you go on results so far. I still want to go fastest, obviously, but it creates an extra element because if you have a bad qualifying it will hurt twice as much.

“My overall goal is to continue my recent form and extend the championship lead.”

Due to Monaco’s unique timetable free practice and qualifying will take place on Thursday, with the Feature Race set for Friday at 11:30 (GMT +2) and the Sprint Race scheduled for Saturday at 17:15.

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

Nicholas adds more experience at F1 test

Canada’s Nicholas Latifi added to his F1 experience by covering more than 1,000km at the wheel of ROKiT Williams Racing’s FW42 car in Spain this week.

The 23-year-old, ROKiT Williams Racing’s reserve driver, got his first taste of the Mercedes-powered car in Bahrain last month, and returned to the cockpit for two days of testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The FIA Formula 2 Championship leader completed 222 laps of the 4.65km Spanish Grand Prix venue as he experienced more valuable time in the car and assisted the British team with its F1 development programme.

“Overall I’m pleased with the mileage we were able to accomplish,” Nicholas said. “On the first day I completed more laps than any other driver and everything went smoothly.

“The second day was more exciting for me as a driver – being able to run the softer compound tyre, rather than stay on the harder ones.”

Latifi also trialled a number of new development parts on the FW42 during the test.

“Evaluating those new components and giving feedback is good prep for the FP1 sessions I will tackle later this year,” he explained.

“The two days were extremely useful in starting to properly get a feel of the car. I’m very happy to get more mileage under my belt ahead of the FP1 outings that are in my diary and I feel much more confident at the wheel.”

Latifi will resume his Formula 2 programme at next weekend’s fourth round of the season in Monaco.

He heads there with a 26-point lead in the championship courtesy of wins at each of the opening three events in Bahrain, Azerbaijan and Spain.

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

Latifi extends Formula 2 title lead with more points in Spain

Nicholas Latifi extended his title advantage in the FIA Formula 2 Championship in the wake of another race-winning weekend, this time in Spain.

Latifi arrived at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya leading the Drivers’ Championship after starting the 12-round series with victories in Bahrain and Azerbaijan.

The Canadian started from P2 and bided his time in Saturday’s Feature Race before picking off long-time leader Guanyu Zhou to move to the front of the pack. The 23-year-old preserved the lead for the remainder of the race to chalk up win number three, continuing a successful start to 2019.

Latifi’s win meant he started from P8 in Sunday’s Sprint Race in hot and sunny conditions, and he fought back after relinquishing a spot on the opening lap.

He passed three rivals to move into P6 at a circuit where overtaking opportunities are limited, and also grabbed the additional points on offer for setting the race’s fastest lap. He now holds a 26-point advantage over nearest rival Luca Ghiotto in the Drivers’ Championship.

“Coming into the weekend riding the momentum from Baku I felt quite confident,” explained Latifi.

“I had a good practice and qualifying – but it was still slightly frustrating to miss out on pole position! In the Feature Race I settled into P2 and played the long-game. When I decided to push I had a pace advantage and it was enough to take the win, which I was really happy with.

“Sunday was all about trying to add to the points tally. I made a bad start and as Sprint races here can be quite processional, especially with the DRS train, you need a big pace advantage.

“I sat back and was patient and then I started to push on and got P6 and the fastest lap – and those points are like gaining another position.

“I’m happy to score more points and preserve quite a healthy lead in the championship.”

Latifi will remain at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in order to add to his Formula 1 experience as part of his duties as ROKiT Williams Racing’s Reserve Driver. He will drive the squad’s FW42 on Tuesday and Wednesday during Formula 1 post-race testing.

“It’s good to have another outing with the team,” said Latifi, who first drove the car in Bahrain last month.

“I should get quite a lot more mileage which will help me get more comfortable ahead of my FP1 runs later this year.

“It’ll be important for me to get a good feeling in the car so I can jump straight in during practice and help the team with the updates and developments they have planned.”

Latifi’s Formula 2 season will resume on the streets of Monaco from May 23 to 25. His racing programme is supported by Lavazza, Sofina and Royal Bank of Canada.

Latifi extends F2 title lead with victory in Spain

Nicholas Latifi claimed his third victory of the year and extended his lead in the FIA Formula 2 Championship with a commanding performance at Spain’s Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya today.

Success in the closely-fought, 37-lap Feature Race ensured the Canadian maintained his impressive start to the season. He has won three out of the five races that have been contested so far in Bahrain, Azerbaijan and Spain.

The 23-year-old preserved his front-row starting position during a frantic opening lap and maintained second position for much of the race, carefully judging tyre wear and keeping in touch with leader Guan Yu Zhou.

With seven laps remaining, Latifi made his move and passed for the lead around the outside of Turn 1. From there he edged clear to take the chequered flag and extend his advantage in the Drivers’ Championship to 26 points.

“Three wins from three rounds is a great start to the year, and puts me in a good position in the title fight,” Latifi said.

“Consistency is such an important factor in a championship like this, and I’m happy with the way things are shaping up.

“The race went well, but I would have liked to have taken the lead a bit earlier. After the pit stops, I came out behind a slower car and conceded quite a big gap to the lead. I tried to push on but after a couple of laps I said to myself, ‘okay, it’s going to be one of those long races where you have to bide your time’.”

Latifi explained that his caution was due to the fact that the harder compound tyre was not available during pre-season testing at the same venue.

“I didn’t really know what to expect of it,” he explained. “The wear was a bit of an unknown. So I just drove my own race, trying to stay close, then picked the moment to push and see what the tyres had left.

“The strategy worked well and once I was in front, I was able to keep it under control to bring it home.”

Latifi will start Sunday’s reversed-grid Formula 2 Sprint Race from eighth position.

The Canadian will then stay on at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya to conduct two days of Formula 1 testing on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of his duties as ROKiT Williams Racing reserve driver.

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

F2 title leader Latifi poised for Spanish fight

Nicholas Latifi is out to build on his FIA Formula 2 Championship lead this weekend when the series reaches Spain’s Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

The Canadian has taken the championship initiative, claiming two victories from the opening events in Bahrain and Azerbaijan.

He holds a 19-point lead in the title battle on a total of 62 points and is eyeing more success at the Spanish circuit where he has taken multiple podium finishes during his F2 career.

But the 23-year-old is taking nothing for granted.

“Leading the championship is definitely a good feeling, but we still have to keep our feet on the ground,” he said. “We’re only four races in and we have 20 more to go.

“It does bring confidence to me and the team that we’re going about things in the right way, everything we have been doing is paying off, that’s definitely good.”

Latifi, who also holds the position of ROKiT Williams Racing Formula 1 reserve driver, is hoping he can pull further clear of the chasing pack this weekend.

“Going into Barcelona, the goal is to extend the championship lead,” he explained.

“It’s important to score consistently, stay out of trouble, and keep racking up the points. Hopefully, that consistency will play a key part by the time we get to the end of the season.”

The Formula 2 field visited Barcelona during pre-season testing in March but warmer weather means conditions are likely to be vastly different when the field rolls into the Catalan capital.

“Barcelona is the first European track of the season and also the first track that most of the drivers will have driven at before,” Latifi said.

“We did winter testing there, albeit in different conditions, so I think the field will be a bit closer than in Bahrain and Baku. Baku was typically incident-filled and in Bahrain we had crazy tyre degradation, so I don’t think it’ll be anything like those races.

“We’ll see what things we can apply from winter testing, but we have to be a bit careful because the conditions will have changed. That said, our prior experience can only be a positive.”

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