Nicholas Latifi left Hungary empty-handed after a double dose of back luck at this weekend’s FIA Formula 2 Championship rounds in Budapest.
In both races the Canadian was affected by factors beyond his control. A broken alternator cable brought his DAMS Racing car to a halt in Saturday’s Feature Race, while on Sunday Nicholas tagged the rear of Max Günther’s car when it slowed suddenly with a technical problem.
“There were reasons for optimism throughout the weekend, but ultimately the results were disappointing and I just couldn’t catch a break,” Nicholas acknowledged. “We have the summer break coming up and I must admit I’m looking forward to some time away so I can regroup and start afresh at Spa.”
Nicholas was one of the stars of last year’s races at the Hungaroring, but after an encouraging start in Friday’s Practice, both he and his DAMS Racing team-mate were off the pace in Qualifying, leading to a challenging P14 start position for Saturday’s rain-lashed 34-lap Feature Race.
“Neither of us could get decent times out of the car in Qualifying and we ended up evenly matched, less than two-hundredths apart,” Nicholas explained.
“To help me in the race I was hoping for a bit of rain and Hungary certainly delivered – I think it was the most hectic start I’ve been a part of! I could see almost nothing through the spray but I got a good first lap, made up some positions and my pace was strong.
“But as the track began to dry I struggled with front tyre wear and I lost some ground. Our pit stop strategy didn’t go to plan and I ended up staying out for a lap longer than I should. Then a slow pit stop meant I rejoined behind the pack I had been battling with. My pace on the slicks was among the top three but I was on borrowed time. A cable from the alternator had come off and when the battery went flat the car shut off. And that meant last place on the grid for the Sprint Race.”
Sunday’s 28-lap race was run in hot and sunny conditions, which prompted Nicholas to prioritise tyre management.
“After the first lap I felt it would be a race with massive degradation, so I immediately went into tyre saving mode,” he explained.
“At the time when I felt I had a really good tyre advantage I was right on Günther’s rear and defending from two cars behind. I was sandwiched, and when Gunther’s car lost power right in front there was nothing I could do to avoid running into the back. I damaged my front wing and cut my front tyre so I had to pit. It was a huge shame because my pace was good and I think I could have battled into the points.”
F2 now moves into its summer break, with the next round taking place at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium from the 24-26 August.
For Nicholas however there will be an extended stay in Hungary, as he prepares to drive the Sahara Force India Formula One Team’s VJM11 at the Formula One in-season test in Budapest on Tuesday (31 July).
He said: “After FP1 sessions in Montreal and Hockenheim I’m very excited about another chance to get back behind the wheel. I’m keen for more experience, and a full day of testing offers different possibilities to an FP1. It’s the last in-season test of the year and I want to maximise the opportunity.”
Nicholas’s FIA Formula 2 Championship programme is proudly supported by Royal Bank of Canada, Lavazza and Sofina.