Nicholas Latifi got his preparations for the 2019 FIA Formula 2 Championship underway by showing strong pace during testing at the Circuito de Jerez this week.
The Canadian completed 245 laps through the course of the three-day test in Spain – amounting to over 1000km of running – undertaking an extensive programme in the F2/18 machine.
Latifi, a two-time race winner in the championship, displayed front-running pace as he and the DAMS squad got 2019 off to a positive start.
“It was a good test,” the 23-year-old explained. “We completed a standard mix of short runs and long runs and were able to test a lot of different things.
“I was quite satisfied that every time we did a performance run, with new tyres, I was always within two-tenths of the fastest time. It was always very close, so we’re in the ballpark.
“The race runs were good. We were maybe not as fast as we could have been but that’s what testing is about, as so many factors come into play.”
For Latifi, who this year has taken on the role of ROKiT Williams Racing’s official Formula 1 test and reserve driver, it was good to get back to competitive action for the first time since the 2018 Formula 2 finale last November.
“It’s nice to be back behind the wheel, as it’s been a long winter!” he explained.
“The first day it felt good, even though it’s always a bit of a strange feeling. On the first lap it’s like ‘wow, this is different, it’s been a while!’ But after that you soon get into it.”
It’s a short turnaround time for both Latifi and DAMS as the second – and final – three-day pre-season test runs next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday [5-7 March] in Barcelona.
“Barcelona is a circuit we race on so it’s a bit more representative,” Latifi said.
“It’ll be a case of building on everything we did here, learning as much as possible and not focusing too much on times. We will be concentrating on our own testing programme.”
Latifi’s full race programme in the 12-round Formula 2 Championship will begin at the Sakhir International Circuit in Bahrain from March 29 to 31.
Latifi’s F2 campaign will be supported by Royal Bank of Canada, Lavazza and Sofina.