Nicholas Latifi saw his chance of a maiden FIA Formula 2 Championship victory disappear with a mistake with just four laps remaining during Sunday’s Sprint race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
The DAMS driver appeared to have the race in his grasp only to run across the gravel at turn five when he was distracted by the loss of his right hand mirror, which saw him lose the lead to Nobuharu Matsushita.
Latifi also found himself overtaken by team-mate Oliver Rowland, meaning a near-certain victory turned into a third place finish, and he was disappointed that the win was there for the taking and he was unable to pull it off.
“A lap before I went off something quite big flew off and hit me in the helmet, I actually thought it was a bit of the front wing but everything felt okay, and it turned out to be the right mirror,” said Latifi on fiaformula2.com.
“I only noticed it just before I was braking for turn 5, and it just distracted me for a tenth of a second or something, delayed my reaction, and it’s quite a tricky corner to get right, especially in the races, and I missed my braking point.
“I won’t let it happen again, but for sure I’m really disappointed, especially for the team, because it was my race to win.”
Despite the loss of the win and the frustration that followed, Latifi was still able to take some positives away from Spain, especially as he finished inside the top eight for the first time in a Feature race since the same venue twelve months ago.
“There’s a lot of frustration but I can’t do anything about it, it’s done and I can’t take it back, but there are also positives I can take away from it,” said Latifi. “It was the first reverse grid I got into since the start of last year, it was the first race I could get out in front and lead, and I was managing it fine.
“It was my race but I got distracted, that’s all: when you’re cruising out the front there’s a lot to think about and I just made a mistake, as simple as that.”