Nicholas Latifi extended his impressive run of form this weekend, collecting his second podium from three events during the FIA F2 Championship round at Sochi, Russia.
The Canadian was one of the standout performers at the penultimate round of the series. He followed his best Qualifying result of the season with P2 in Saturday’s Feature Race and put himself in winning contention during Sunday’s Sprint Race.
Nicholas started the Feature Race from P4, but a prolonged stint on the Supersoft tyre dropped him to P11 before a switch to Soft rubber sparked a stunning fightback. The 23-year-old picked his way through the field, claiming the runner-up spot with three laps to go and completing a 1-2 for his DAMS Racing team.
“P2 was a great result, especially for the team, and after my victory last month at Spa it felt terrific to be back on the podium again,” Nicholas said. “The feeling in the car was good and I knew I had the pace to win.”
“What knocked my chances was a combination of too much wheelspin off the line and the extra time I spent on the worn Supersofts. Like in Monza, my team-mate had the pit priority here – that’s normal – and so I had an extra lap before I could come in for new tyres. I did the best I could, but that lap cost me more than six seconds.”
Nicholas got the Sprint Race off to a textbook start. He leapt from P7 to P2 in the first few corners, before his car was sent spinning off the track into retirement after Alessio Lorandi slammed into the back of it under braking at turn 5. The Italian later received a heavy penalty for causing the collision.
“Going into the race I knew I had the pace to lead. I got a good start and the first few corners were amazing. I was P2, thinking this really was my race to win, and then bang – it was over,” Nicholas explained.
“It was a crazy move from Lorandi and of course I am very angry about it. Nonetheless it’s still been a very positive weekend, with my best Qualifying and Feature Race results of the season so far. I have to be happy with that.”
Nicholas also featured in the Formula One action at Sochi, tackling the opening Free Practice session as part of his test and development role with the Racing Point Force India Team. He completed 24 laps during Friday’s 90-minute session, helping to evaluate new upgrades for the VJM11 on Pirelli’s Ultrasoft and Hypersoft tyres.
“The team is still learning about the new package and I am glad I could help collect more data on those test items,” he said. “It has been a couple of months since I drove the car and I could definitely feel the progress the team has made recently.
“The balance of the car on the Hypersofts took some getting used to, but it improved with each lap and it was more good experience. After the session I had to go straight to the F2 practice – I had to run to the other paddock to make it in time. I must admit my F2 car felt a bit strange after 120kms of Formula One power.”
The 2018 F2 season enters an eight-week break now until it concludes at the Yas Marina Circuit at Abu Dhabi on the 23-25 November.
Nicholas’s FIA Formula 2 Championship programme is proudly supported by Royal Bank of Canada, Lavazza and Sofina.