Nicholas Latifi took another FIA Formula 2 Championship point from the Red Bull Ring this weekend, but believes bold set-up changes to his car could unlock more pace for the next round at Silverstone in the UK.
The Canadian, who turned 23 on Friday, finished second in last year’s Feature Race at the Austrian track, but he wasn’t able to challenge the front runners this time.
“We were on the back foot from practice, when my car had a turbo problem,” Nicholas explained. “It happened twice in the session, first just at the end of my push lap. The team managed to fix it in the pits, and it worked for a couple more laps, but then it went again. It was out of my hands unfortunately, but it meant I didn’t get any representative running in practice.
“I went into qualifying blind, with few references to use. I set a lap that put me 15th or 16th but I wasn’t able to improve on it. I pushed a bit too much, and made a few mistake that stemmed from being nowhere in practice.”
Starting Saturdays Feature Race from P19, Nicholas made his way through the field and ended in a tense four-way fight for P8 on the final lap.
“Fighting for pole on the reverse grid was a similar situation to the last race at Paul Ricard, unfortunately this time I missed out,” said Nicholas, who took the chequered flag in P11.
“Sunday’s Sprint Race was better because I could match the pace of the cars around me, but I struggled with the tyres and getting the car to do what I wanted. A slight pace advantage on the last four or five laps enabled me to move up and take the final point for 8th.
“Generally we seem to have lost the edge on race pace we had last year. It’s frustrating, and the team and I are working hard to try and fix it. Last year I showed I know how to drive quickly around the Red Bull Ring. I haven’t forgotten how to do it, and I know how to manage the tyres, but I’m just not getting the right feeling out there.”
Nicholas will travel to the DAMS Racing team base in France this week to consider fresh set-up options ahead of next week’s round in Great Britain (6 – 8 July) the scene of his maiden F2 race win last year.
He said: “There’s lots to analyse now before we head to my favourite track in the calendar. I feel we’re in a position where we have nothing to lose, so I’m pushing the guys to try someting big with the car. The changes that worked for us last year haven’t transferred to this new car so we need to try something different.
“We took some big risks last year that paid off – I think we need to take the same approach again to try and get back on the pace.”
Nicholas’s FIA Formula 2 Championship programme is proudly supported by Royal Bank of Canada, Lavazza and Sofina.