After a podium finish at the previous round in Baku, Nicholas Latifi heads to this week’s third round of the FIA Formula Two Championship in Spain keen to continue his front-running form.
The 22-year-old DAMS Racing driver ignited his title challenge with a haul of 20 points in Azerbaijan late last month, and hopes to add to that when the series returns to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya – scene of a race-leading performance from Nicholas in 2017.
“The main thing on my mind this weekend is to continue to build the momentum we got from Baku. It’s still very early in the championship, so the key is to keep scoring big points consistently,” the Canadian said.
“Barcelona is a track where I have gone well in the past and it’s a circuit I know well. But to get a good result this time I need to sort out my Friday running which has been the most problematic aspect of the first two races. After my qualifying issues in Baku I managed to make up a lot of places, but Barcelona is not a track where you want be starting from the back.
“We have to hit the ground running from free practice – try and get into a rhythm from the first lap. After that, a top-five time in qualifying would make it much easier to go for the win or fight for podiums.”
Known for its high number of fast corners, Barcelona’s 4.655km circuit was notorious for its abrasive surface which contributed to high tyre degradation. However, fresh asphalt was laid earlier this year that is much smoother and offers more grip with less wear.
“That’s probably going to be the biggest difference we’ll face this year,” Nicholas explained. “As well as that, Pirelli has gone one step softer with the tyres, so we have medium and soft compound options, instead of the hard and softs from 2017. I expect that should balance things out.”
Nicholas dominated last year’s 26-lap Sprint Race in Spain but was left ruing a late off-track excursion that cost him an almost-certain victory. This time, he is eager to put his race-leading experience to good use.
“Up to now my race pace on Saturday and Sunday has been good, although there are always things to improve. We weren’t the fastest in Baku, but that was a very specific track, and having analysed the data we have some good ideas why we lost out to the pace of a couple of cars,” he said.
“As usual, I expect the starts will be very important. What I did in the Baku Sprint Race worked well, but I know it won’t be easy to replicate. After 14 cars have stalled from the first four races, you can guess how tricky these cars are to get off the line.”
Nicholas’s race weekend begins on Friday 11 May with Practice [1300hrs] and Qualifying [1655hrs]. Saturday’s 37-lap Feature Race starts at 1640hrs, followed by Sunday’s 26-lap Sprint Race at 1130hrs.
Nicholas’s bid for FIA Formula 2 Championship success is proudly supported by Royal Bank of Canada, Lavazza and Sofina.