25 July 2017

Nicholas Latifi bids to extend his run of podium glory at Hungaroring

Nicholas Latifi is aiming to go into the FIA Formula 2 Championship’s summer break on a high by following up his recent Silverstone success with more podium finishes in Hungary this weekend.

The 22-year-old travels to the demanding venue as one of the on-form drivers in the Formula 1 feeder series, having rocketed to fourth in the points standings thanks to a run of podium finishes.

Of course, his crowning glory was domination of the Sprint race last time out at Silverstone and he believes his breakthrough win will stand him in good stead this weekend.

“I’m looking forward to getting back on track again, especially coming from the success I enjoyed at Silverstone,” he says. “My main objective for Hungary is to finish consistently in the points in both races and there’s no reason why I can’t earn those points from podiums or race wins.

With 14 corners, heavy braking zones and typically high temperatures, the Hungaroring can place a heavy toll on machinery. Nicholas is familiar with these demands, having raced at the track in 2015 and 2016, and although he feels more at home on the faster tracks such as Silverstone, he believes his prior experience will be an advantage.

“I know more about what to expect in terms of tyre degradation and also about what I need from the car during qualifying and the two races,” says the Canadian. “Qualifying will be quite important and that’s something I am really putting an effort into improving.”

Mindful of the fact that overtaking on the sinuous 4.381km Hungaroring circuit is notoriously difficult, Nicholas is focusing on hitting the ground running in his DAMS-entered car. He believes his ability to push hard from the start will be an asset when the 45-minute practice session gets underway on Friday.

“In F2 you start with brand new tyres for practice, so your rubber is at its best on your first flying lap in practice,” he explains. “However, that’s also when you’re still finding your reference points around the circuit. At both the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone, my first timed lap relative to those of my rivals was actually the quickest. I think being able to get up to speed more quickly than my competitors is a really good skill to have.”

The 37-lap Feature Race takes place on Saturday, ahead of the 28-lap Sprint Race on Sunday morning. Then F2 enters a four-week summer break, but for Nicholas there is another important task to complete before he can relax.

He has been tasked by the Renault Sport Formula One Team to drive the Renault R.S.17 in the post-grand prix test session. Nicholas will drive next Tuesday, having already racked up valuable test mileage at Circuit de Catalunya earlier in the year.

“I’m very excited for an opportunity to get back in the R.S.17 and to be able to experience the new-era F1 machinery with the latest tyres and aero package.

“My first test in the car was all about evaluating Pirelli’s tyres; next week’s test will be one of only four days the Renault team will get during the season to try whatever they want to – such as new parts, new set-up philosophies or just gathering information.

“It’s an important day and I’ll have to get up to speed quickly, so it should help that I’m racing at the track the weekend before in F2.”

Nicholas’s bid for FIA Formula 2 Championship success is proudly supported by Royal Bank of Canada, Lavazza and Sofina in 2017.

Video: Nicholas’s track guide to the Hungaroring