Canadian racer Nicholas Latifi left this weekend’s FIA Formula 2 Championship round empty handed after a double dose of misfortune at Italy’s Autodromo Monza.
The 24-year-old began the tenth round of the season lying second in the drivers’ championship and determined to narrow the gap on leader Nyck de Vries.
Nicholas started Saturday’s Feature Race P6 on the grid after a rain-affected qualifying, and hopeful of taking points from his Dutch rival who was relegated to the back row after a fuel infringement.
Starting with soft tyres on his car, Nicholas quickly made up two positions and was locked in a tense battle with team-mate Sergio Sette Camara for P3 before he pitted for mediums.
But shortly after rejoining, Nicholas’s race was effectively over when he collided with Guanyu Zhou at Turn 4 and was forced to pit again for a new front wing. The incident plunged Nicholas down the order while Zhou was later penalised for the move.
“The rule is clear on defending position in this situation, you have to leave a car width, but he didn’t, he pushed me off track, and that’s why we touched,” Nicholas explained. “It was a massive disappointment during a race when I had a golden opportunity to outscore Nyck. In one move it was taken away.”
Having finished P13 on Saturday, Nicholas reset for another big push during Sunday’s Sprint Race. Again however, the race turned out to be one to forget, following a spin on the way to the grid.
“Today was my mistake – driver error,” Nicholas acknowledged. “The track looked completely dry but at Turn 3 – the long flat-out right-hander – I was caught out by a damp patch in the shade under the trees. I hit it at high speed, spun, and flat-spotted all four tyres. The fronts were especially bad.
“After that I didn’t have a chance to fight. I was missing so much performance from the tyres in the corners, understeering everywhere and with such massive vibrations on the straights I almost couldn’t see through my visor. I was fighting a losing battle.
“I clung on to see if I could get a point or two, but P10 was the best I could do. My race was over before it started. It’s a huge shame and I feel bad for the team – they deserved more from the weekend. All I can do is learn from it and move on.”
The penultimate round of the championship will be held at Sochi, Russia from 27 – 29 September. Now trailing De Vries by 59 points in the title race, Nicholas accepted his title chances are looking slim.
“Mathematically it’s still possible, so of course I will give it everything, but Nyck now has a good chance of claiming the title at the next round,” he said.
“While Sochi was a good track for me last year, the title fight isn’t really in my hands any more. The focus has to be on consolidating P2 in the drivers’ championship and keeping the lead for DAMS in the teams’ standings.”