Latifi more comfortable driving the Williams F1 car
Canadian Nicholas Latifi experienced some driving of the troublesome Williams FW42 during Free Practice 1 of the Canadian Grand Prix last Friday.
Nicholas Latifi, who’s currently leading the current FIA Formula 2 point standings with 95 points and two victories with team DAMS, is this year’s reserve and test driver for the Rokit Williams Racing Formula 1 team.
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Last Friday, Latifi completed 33 laps of the Gilles Villeneuve circuit in Montréal. He was 20th and slowest with a time of 1:16.199, just two tenths of a second slower than his teammate, Williams’ regular driver George Russell.
Nicholas Latifi, Williams FW42
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Sutton Images
However, Latifi’s objective is not to show blindingly fast speed, but to get to grip with the car and run through the technical programme set by the team behind the wheel of the car that’s unfortunately and undoubtedly is not the most efficient and driver-friendly on the grid.
“Especially in FP1 like this, I cannot push to the maximum,” Latifi told Motorsport.com.
“The track is slippery and there are walls everywhere here. It was the same for me last year, the last thing you want to do is to put the car into the wall and ruin the weekend of the drivers. I found the track conditions were much dustier than they were last year, probably because of the construction of the new pit building. I was the first one out on Friday morning and I found the grip was very poor, but I fully realised how dirty it was when I saw the rooster tail on the other cars! Of course, I want to push to show the team what I can do but on the other hand there’s a technical program that we need to respect.”
The nature of the temporary track, essentially built from long straights joined by hairpin corners and interrupted by chicanes, made some drivers compare it to the street circuit. It also makes it particularly difficult to get the Pirelli tires up to their correct working temperature.
Nicholas Latifi, Williams Racing
Photo by: Simon Galloway / Sutton Images
“This track has no long corners, it’s more point and accelerate,” Latifi added. “You need to rotate the car very quickly. If you don’t get the entry right that messes up the whole corner. Tracks like Bahrain and Barcelona have long corners where you have a little more to adjust what you want to do with the car.”
Did the Montréal native who now lives in Toronto leave more ease in the cockpit of the Mercedes-powered FW42 last Friday in comparison to his previous outings?
“Yes, for sure. Just in general, the tests I’ve done with Williams, every time I climb in the car, I feel more comfortable,” he replied.
“If I compare my FP1 from last year to this year, my internal feeling was completely different. On Friday I felt so much more confident. Last year was my FP1 in general, I didn’t have as much time in the car with Force India that I’ve had so far this year with Williams. And this time I knew the track, so on all I was able to anticipate things a little bit more. I had to leave some margin, but the confidence level and comfort level were not even comparable.”
Nicholas Latifi, Williams FW42
Photo by: Zak Mauger / LAT Images
The FW42 has been the slowest car on the Grand Prix grid several times so far this season. What’s the most disconcerting thing about this car?
“There’s a certain level of unpredictability. The little time I had in the car I find it a little difficult to commit confidently to the corners, like not knowing ‘Ok, this is what the car is going to do’, so I have to work the car harder and I’m driving more on the edge”, Latifi explained.
His next F1 appearance will be during the first practice session for the French Grand Prix on the circuit of Le Castellet.
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