F2 challenger Latifi out of luck in Austrian Alps

FIA Formula 2 Championship title contender Nicholas Latifi endured a frustrating weekend as the series reached its mid-point in the picturesque Austrian mountains.

The Canadian, a three-time winner in 2019, arrived in the Austrian town of Spielberg keen for an upturn in results after a challenging couple of rounds in Monaco and France.

He claimed P4 in practice at the short and tricky Red Bull Ring circuit, and followed that up with P6 on the grid for Saturday’s Feature Race.

Latifi strived to move forwards in the 40-lap encounter, which took place in swelteringly hot conditions, but his race was wrecked when DAMS team-mate Sergio Sette Camara spun him.

“Race 1 – not much to say! I was in a decent position to make the pit stop when my team-mate misjudged the corner and hit me and spun me around,” reflected Latifi, who turned 24 on Saturday.

Sette Camara was penalised for the incident but Nicholas was shunted down to P19, from where he put in a stirring recovery drive to finish in P9.

“It completely ruined my race, I went back to last place. My race pace was one of the quickest and if I was at the front I definitely would have been able to challenge for the win, or at least a high podium position, and take some points off my rival. So, on my birthday, that sucked!”

Nicholas started P9 for Sunday’s 28-lap Sprint Race and worked his way up to P6, meaning he preserves P2 in the Drivers’ Championship.

“At these races it’s always difficult to follow with the DRS train,” he reflected. “I had to stay in the dirty air and that hurt my tyres. I managed to gain a few positions but starting that far back there wasn’t much I could do. I got a few points in the end but sadly it was a weekend to forget.”

Nicholas will resume his F2 title push in a fortnight when the championship continues at Silverstone, Great Britain, from 12 – 14 July.

 

Nicholas takes valuable points from French F2 round

Nicholas Latifi added more valuable points to support his FIA Formula 2 Championship title charge at Circuit Paul Ricard in France this weekend.

Nicholas, a three-time Formula 2 winner in 2019, opened the weekend with another Friday practice appearance for ROKiT Williams Racing in Formula 1, as part of his role as the team’s reserve driver.

But after a quick car swap, the Canadian’s focus turned to his Formula 2 commitments and he secured P6 on the grid for Saturday’s Feature Race.

“F2 practice was a bit average, but I was still confident of finding the necessary step in qualifying,” the 23-year-old explained.

“It could have been much worse, as I didn’t get a good lap on my second set of tyres, so at the end of the day P6 was a bit of a relief.”

He made up ground during a competitive Feature Race on Saturday and secured P5 for 10 points, but in Sunday’s reversed-grid race he lost ground and classified P6.

“In the races, we didn’t have the pace,” he admitted. “They were both very strange races, as there was absolutely no [tyre] degradation. It was pretty much flat out the whole way both times, and the racing was quite scrappy.

“In the Feature Race we didn’t have the best of pit stops either, so we came out fighting for positions and it spiralled a bit from there. In the circumstances P5 was decent.

“I was looking to capitalise in the Sprint Race, and made some changes overnight to the car, but unfortunately we made some other areas worse. We just didn’t have the pace.”

Nicholas left France second in the Drivers’ Championship, with the sixth round of the season taking place in Austria next weekend (28-30 June).

“Okay I lost the championship lead this weekend, but I still claimed 14 points and they’re really important,” he said.

“We’ll have a reset before we get to the Red Bull Ring, hopefully it will be a more normal weekend and we’ll be back on the pace.”

Nicholas racks up more F1 mileage in France

Nicholas Latifi gathered more Formula 1 experience during free practice for the French Grand Prix at Circuit Paul Ricard today.

As part of his Reserve Driver duties with ROKiT Williams Racing, Nicholas took the reins of the Mercedes-powered FW42 for Friday’s opening 90-minute session.

He not only gained more personal experience during his second of six planned grand prix appearances this year, but assisted the team with the development and understanding of its car.

Nicholas completed 25 laps of the 5.8km circuit and set a best lap time of 1:37.147, putting him 0.025s ahead of the team’s regular driver, Formula 1 race winner Robert Kubica.

“It was good to continue the feeling so soon after the run in Canada,” Nicholas said.

“I felt like I got into the rhythm quite quickly. It was a tricky session – low grip, high temperatures, tyres not lasting that long, which makes it more difficult. But I was pleased with how it went, got through the programme cleanly, and each session on track I’m feeling more comfortable.

“In Montreal for FP1 I had Robert’s car so was working with his crew, today I was with George Russell’s crew and across the next sessions I’ll be switching back and forth, which is useful experience for me.”

Friday was a busy day for Nicholas as straight after his Formula 1 duties concluded he had to jump into the Formula 2 cockpit to resume his programme with DAMS.

“I had a bit of running back and forth, already on Thursday, between paddocks, making sure everything was set,” he said.

“Getting into the F2 car straight after F1 practice was a tight turnaround but I made it out on time. I was a bit more warmed up than usual, but it was a smooth transition!”

 

Nicholas ready for F1 and F2 outings at Paul Ricard

Nicholas Latifi is braced for a busy programme of on-track action at this weekend’s French Grand Prix where he will drive both Formula 1 and Formula 2 machinery.

The Canadian travels to Circuit Paul Ricard leading the FIA Formula 2 Championship drivers’ standings and keen to extend his advantage at the 5.84 km track which is the home venue for his DAMS team.

But before Latifi resumes his F2 title challenge, the 23-year-old will make a second Formula 1 Free Practice (FP1) appearance behind the wheel of ROKiT Williams Racing’s FW42.

After a storming start to his F2 campaign, with wins in Bahrain, Azerbaijan and Spain, Latifi is aiming to bounce back from a tough last round in Monaco, where his pace went unrewarded amid incidents and setbacks.

“It’s been nearly a month since Monaco and not having the weekend go the way I wanted to go. I’m really motivated to get racing in France, score some good points and build the momentum again,” he explained.

“The track itself is one at which I have the least experience, but I’m confident that with the way everything is going this year that’s not going to matter.

“We didn’t lack pace in Monaco, but there were a lot of incidents. Fortunately, I had built enough of a buffer to retain the championship lead. I learned a lot from Monaco, now I’m looking to the future and I’m ready to make the most of the upcoming races.”

While Latifi’s primary focus in France will be on his Formula 2 campaign, he hopes the Formula 1 seat time as ROKiT Williams Racing’s official Reserve Driver in Friday’s practice session will complement his title bid.

“This is the first FP1 I have alongside F2 this year – it’s double duty,” he said. “It’s a challenge but more track time is definitely a benefit and it’s good to continue with the development, especially so soon after the FP1 outing in Montreal.

“I drove F1 and F2 sessions in Sochi last year and it ended up being my best F2 weekend of the year. Yes, it is difficult to run from the F1 paddock and jump straight into the F2 car. But the chance for more time on the track, and to find a good rhythm is worth more than any negative effect of re-adjusting to a different car.”

Latifi’s packed timetable begins with the opening F1 free practice session at 11:00 local time (GMT +2) on Friday. The session concludes just 25 minutes before the Formula 2 weekend begins with practice at 12:55.

Formula 2 qualifying is scheduled for 16:55 on Friday, with the 30-lap Feature Race set for 16:45 on Saturday, and the 21-lap Sprint Race at 11:25 on Sunday.

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

 

Nicholas enjoys productive FP1 outing on home ground

Canada’s Nicholas Latifi drove ROKiT Williams Racing’s FW42 for the first time during an F1 race weekend earlier today when he lapped Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve during the opening Canadian Grand Prix practice session.

The Formula 2 title leader is the British squad’s official Reserve Driver in 2019 and had previously tested the Mercedes-powered car in Bahrain and Spain.

Today’s FP1 session marked the first of six planned outings at grand prix weekends for Nicholas, as he racked up valuable mileage in front of his home supporters.

The Montreal native completed 33 laps of the 4.36km circuit and recorded a personal best lap time of 1:16.199, just two-tenths down on the team’s regular racer George Russell.

“It’s a very special feeling to drive in front of the home crowd – most of my racing is overseas – it does give it a different feeling compared to normal,” Latifi explained.

“Getting to drive in the city I was born in, with a lot of family and friends, it was a special feeling pulling out of the pit lane.

“It was good to get more experience driving the F1 car. You have to get up to speed much more quickly than in testing because you’re limited with tyres, and of course you don’t want to put it in the wall. It was a productive day for both me and the team.”

The 23-year-old also counted himself lucky to have avoided a local groundhog that wandered into the path of his car early in the session.

“I started off almost colliding with a groundhog – had to happen to the Canadian of course! Luckily I managed to avoid him and we both got away unscathed,” Latifi joked.

His next Formula 1 appearance will be during the first practice session for the French Grand Prix on 21 June.