FIA Formula 2 championship leader Nicholas Latifi says he’s pleased to turn around the struggling pace he suffered all weekend and capture the win in the sprint race, as well as an extension to his championship lead.
The Canadian driver took home the win on Sunday at the Baku City Circuit, jumping into the lead of the race on Lap 6 and remained there throughout the race despite numerous safety cars restarts, destroying his race lead.
Latifi almost lost the race lead when during the second safety car restart, Sauber‘s Juan Manuel Correa made a lunge for the race lead. The American driver locked up heavily into the corner and carried too much speed, allowing Latifi to cruise pass and take back the lead of the race.
The ROKiT Williams Racing reserved driver was on course for a promising result, but ended the feature race in fourth place after MP Motorsport’s Jordan King passed the Canadian in the final minutes of the race, taking away a podium finish
Despite the loss of the podium, Latifi captured the championship lead after previous leader and UNI-Virtuosi Racing‘s Luca Ghiotto was penalised for crashing into the rear of Latifi’s DAMS team-mate Sérgio Sette Câmara during a safety car restart, which took the Brazilian out of the race. Ghiotto was handed a time penalty and dropped down to ninth place.
Latifi admitted that DAMS were struggling with the pace throughout the weekend, but managed to find the confidence to turn his fortunes around after the team did some analysis overnight.
“I’m obviously pleased with the outcome of the weekend in terms of the points haul,” said Latifi. “Practice and qualifying were a bit of a struggle, we didn’t have the pace we wanted and even in race one I was disappointed with the pace.
“We did a lot of analysis overnight and the guys did a good job of working out what I did wrong and where we could improve the car.
“In race two I got the confidence back and we were clearly the quickest. I’m really happy to get the win and extend the championship lead. We’re keen to keep the momentum going into the next round.”
DAMS remain on top in the teams’ standings with 95 points, ahead of second place Campos Racing and Virtuosi. Despite retiring from the feature race, Sette Câmara was able to claw back and score a sixth place finish in the sprint race on Sunday.
The French squad’s Managing Director François Sicard was pleased for Latifi to bring home the victory and managed well with the multiple safety car restarts that occurred.
“It’s been a very positive weekend, leaving Baku leading the drivers’ and teams’ championship with a great victory for Nicholas in race two is hugely satisfying,” commented Sicard
“We did not find the exact level of performance we wanted in practice or qualifying because we couldn’t get the temperature in the tyres”
“Nicholas managed the difficult safety car restarts with his experience on his way to a great win. We may be leading both championships but with 10 more rounds nothing is done for sure.
“We have demonstrated our team is performing well and our car is quick. Now we will focus on Barcelona where we know the opposition will continue to challenge us.”