Nicholas Latifi admitted it was pleasing to have a second free practice outing so soon after his first after he participated in the opening salvo for Williams Racing at the Circuit Paul Ricard on Friday morning.
The Canadian ran the same session at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve two weeks ago and came into this weekend with some rhythm behind the wheel of the FW42 as he drove in place of regular racer George Russell.
Latifi avoided ending the session at the back of the pack as he finished ahead of team-mate Robert Kubica in eighteenth position, edging out his team-mate by 0.025 seconds, while both were ahead of Romain Grosjean after the Haas F1 Team racer suffered a water leak before he was able to set a truly representative lap time.
“It was good to have another FP1 session so close to my drive in Canada,” said Latifi. “I still had the rhythm of a Formula 1 car and I feel more comfortable.
“However, this morning the track conditions were tricky making it difficult to maintain consistent grip in the tyres from lap-to-lap.”
Latifi was pleased to suffer no issues or incidents so he could hand the car back to regular race driver Russell for the remainder of the weekend as he turns his own attention back to FIA Formula 2, where he will start sixth on the grid for Saturday’s Feature race.
“All in all, I was pleased with how today went,” said the Canadian. “I kept it clean and got the car back to George in one piece.”
Russell return to the seat in the afternoon and set the nineteenth fastest time as he worked his way into a rhythm at a track he won at twelve months ago during his championship-winning FIA Formula 2 season.
“Today was as expected and I enjoyed it,” said Russell. “Missing FP1 wasn’t ideal but I know the track well, so I got into the rhythm pretty quickly.
“Circuit Paul Ricard has a nice flow to it and the car felt alright. Overall, I enjoyed the laps out there and the pace was what we expected. We must keep on improving the car balance to make the most out of the package this weekend.”
Kubica participated in both sessions having not raced at Paul Ricard since before his first stint in Formula 1, with the Pole ending up as the slowest of those who set representative lap times in both session as Williams once again brought up the rear of the field.
“It was a usual Friday, nothing stands out,” said Kubica. “There were no surprises, so it was okay. We did a lot of work and tested a few data gathering items for aerodynamic purposes.
“The track was not bad, FP2 it was rubbering in, so the grip increased, and it was quite good fun to drive.”