Canada’s Nicholas Latifi is relishing the chance to take on the most famous race track in the world this week, when the FIA Formula 2 Championship returns to the iconic Circuit de Monaco [24 – 26 May].
The 3.337km street circuit is one of the most technical in the F2 calendar, and is notorious for its sharp corners and narrow, Armco barrier-lined track that makes overtaking almost impossible.
The circuit’s tight nature calls for precision driving, while top speeds of more than 260kph last year call for maximum commitment. For 22-year-old Nicholas, it’s a challenge he always looks forward to.
“Street tracks are some of my favourites and it’s always exciting to be going to Monaco, it’s one of the special events of the year,” he said.
“You get an extra adrenaline rush from driving between the walls – knowing that if you do make a mistake you’re going to be punished for it. And this is Monaco. It has the history and an atmosphere unlike any other race.”
A fortnight after a difficult round in Barcelona, Nicholas is targeting solid points-winning results in both Friday’s Feature Race and Saturday’s Sprint Race.
Nicholas said: “I missed the chance to score useful points in Barcelona, so my goal is to have a clean weekend, with no mistakes from my side, and hopefully a bit of luck. I think I’m due some. At street races, and Monaco in particular, you need to have a bit of luck on your side.
“You also have to put yourself in the right place to be able to capitalise on the opportunities that come to you because the races are never straightforward. Things always happen in Monaco; safety cars, people making mistakes. I have to keep my nose clean but at the same time be quick enough to be near the front and able to react.”
With overtaking so difficult in Monaco, Qualifying is arguably more critical than at any other track and Nicholas is hoping to get his DAMS Racing machine well placed during Thursday afternoon’s sessions.
“The field is split into two groups for Qualifying because the track is so short. It’s sometimes more beneficial to be in the second group because there will be more rubber on the track. Either way, Qualifying is really important. To do well in Monaco you need a good starting position,” he said.
Nicholas has been kept busy since the last F2 round with testing and simulator work for the Sahara Force India F1 Team. In his role as Reserve and Test driver, Nicholas drove the squad’s VJM11 car for 107 laps of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya at the F1 in-season test. He later drove the car for a second day at a Pirelli test, racking up a total of more than 1000km at the wheel.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better first test with the team,” Nicholas explained. “There were no problems, the run plan went smoothly and I got maximum track time, which is so important when learning a new car and team. At the end of the day I also got to do some performance runs on the hyper-soft tyre, which was great fun.”
“The Pirelli test on the second day was a different format, and called for me to give detailed feedback on different sets of tyres. It was an opportunity to get more mileage under my belt in a controlled environment and to really get comfortable in the car. As preparation for my Free Practice session in Montreal at the Canadian Prix next month it was exactly what I needed.”
Nicholas’s Monaco race weekend begins on Thursday 24 May with Practice [0915hrs] and Qualifying [1320 / 1344hrs]. Friday’s 42-lap Feature Race starts at 1130hrs, followed by Saturday’s 30-lap Sprint Race at 1720hrs.
Nicholas’s bid for FIA Formula 2 Championship success is proudly supported by Royal Bank of Canada, Lavazza and Sofina.