Nicholas Latifi extended his run of points-scoring finishes in two action-packed FIA Formula 2 Championship races at Circuit Paul Ricard in southern France this weekend.
The Canadian came away with P7 and P8, having also served notice of his potential by leading several laps of the Sprint Race, and by fighting back from near last to finish in the points in the Feature Race.
Nicholas started Sunday’s Sprint Race from P2 on the grid and made a blistering start to seize the lead.
“I was feeling quite confident, having made some changes to the car’s set-up after the previous day’s Feature Race,” said the DAMS Racing driver. “I got into the lead, but then I struggled to have enough grip to pull away.”
He led the opening four laps, but once the chasing drivers were allowed to use the drag reduction system (DRS) to aid overtaking on the straights, Nicholas found it difficult to defend his position.
“The car was sliding quite a lot and if I tried to push harder, the tyres began to overheat. I didn’t have the pace to get out of the DRS activation zone, so it was a frustrating race,” said Nicholas, who eventually finished P8.
Earlier in the weekend he put in a stirring drive during Saturday’s Feature Race, which was held in challenging mixed weather conditions. Nicholas started from P10 on the grid but was hit from behind by another car as he braked for Turn Three.
“The contact put me out of position as we turned into the corner and I arrived quicker than I wanted to. I was on the wet kerb and the car just spun around,” the 22-year-old explained.
Having rejoined in P17, Nicholas excelled in the now-treacherous conditions to get as high as P7 within ten laps.
“It started to rain more heavily, but I love those low-grip conditions. I was able to match the pace of the leaders and carved through the pack. In that respect, it was an enjoyable race.
“However, then I got knocked off the track for a second time and lost ground again. That incident inflicted damage to my car and I began to struggle with understeer,” he said.
Nicholas finished P8, earning it with an inspired overtaking move on the final lap: “I enjoyed that battle, especially because I came out on top! Overall, it was a nice recovery drive considering I got hit twice during the race.”
Later, Nicholas was promoted to P7 in the results due to a disqualification and the results from Paul Ricard mean he’s now P11 in the series standings. His focus moves immediately to the Red Bull Ring next weekend (29 June – 1 July). Nicholas is optimistic about his chances, having finished second in the Feature Race there in 2017.
“As we go straight into another race weekend, I won’t be dwelling on this one,” he said. “I’m heading to the team’s workshop to do some analysis and preparation for Austria, where we’ll aim to come back stronger.”
Nicholas’s bid for FIA Formula 2 Championship success is proudly supported by Royal Bank of Canada, Lavazza and Sofina.