3 October 2017

Nicholas is aiming high at ‘unknown’ Jerez

 

Nicholas Latifi is targeting a strong haul of points and further progress in the FIA Formula Two Championship when the penultimate round of the season gets underway at Spain’s Circuito de Jerez this weekend.

The 22-year-old is determined to bounce back from an up-and-down weekend at Monza last month, where he scored his seventh podium of the season in the Feature Race, but struggled to find his front-running form in the Sprint Race.

The DAMS Racing driver said: “I was left disappointed in Monza. I just didn’t have the pace. Having analysed things back at the shop, the team found a few little things that weren’t helping the car at all. That was some explanation, but there were things I could have done better as well.

“My objective is to bounce back in Spain. I dropped one championship position after Monza and now there are only four races left. A positive is that second place, which is the most realistic goal, hasn’t moved any further away from me. I’m 27 points behind second place and there are 96 points available. Closing that gap by outscoring the guys ahead has to be my goal.”

Nicholas, who is supported by Royal Bank of Canada, Lavazza and Sofina in 2017, is targeting a strong qualifying session, a pair of clean races and a weekend free of any mechanical gremlins as he bids to return to the F2 podium at Jerez.

He hasn’t raced at the 4.43km track for almost two years and, although the F2 teams took part in a pre-season test at Jerez late last year, it’s likely that Nicholas will need to spend most of Friday’s Free Practice session reacquainting himself with his surroundings – and in particular, a freshly-laid track surface.

“Jerez is a track I like quite a bit. My first experience racing there was in the World Series 3.5. It was good because I only joined the series for the last few races and I ended up finishing second in the final race, – that’s a good memory,” he explained.

“But the track was resurfaced about a month ago and that creates a big unknown. It remains to be seen how that will affect things; especially the tyre degradation. Before it was resurfaced it was a high degradation track but we’ll have to see what type of asphalt they’ve gone with. We won’t know the full story until the first race.”

Another development that is sure to make for an intriguing weekend is Pirelli’s decision to amend the tyre compounds that the F2 cars will run in Spain. Nicholas has shown himself to be a master of managing tyre degradation so far this season, but he knows he may have to learn some new tyre wear characteristics at Jerez.

“For sure, there’s a new track surface but there’s always some variation in the materials used. Considering this, Pirelli has made quite an aggressive tyre choice,” he explained. “They changed their initial medium and hard compound selection to medium and soft instead – a step softer. That’s going to be something new to discover and get used to.”