Nicholas Latifi reveals that 2019 was always going to be his last year racing in FIA Formula 2, regardless of where he would finish in the championship as he edges closer to a potential seat in Formula 1 next year.
The Canadian driver narrowly missed out on winning the championship, after ART Grand Prix‘s Nyck de Vries wrapped up the series at the previous round in Sochi, Russia. Latifi and the rest of the Formula 2 teams and drivers enter the final round at the Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi this weekend.
Whilst it has been two months since F2 last raced, the DAMS driver has been busy with practice duties with ROKiT Williams Racing, getting time behind the wheel of an F1 car in Mexico, USA and Brazil. Latifi has been heavily favoured to be racing with the Oxford-based team in 2020.
Brazil saw the last of Latifi’s in-season running in F1 as he now focuses on wrapping up the 2019 F2 campaign.
“I’m looking forward to the last race of the season because it’s been a big break since the most recent Formula 2 race in Sochi – nearly two months,” said Latifi.
“Fortunately I’ve had a lot of things to keep me busy, like taking part in three FP1 sessions in Mexico, USA and Brazil, with ROKiT Williams Racing. I have also done some training, kept active with some karting, and caught up with DAMS as part of my normal preparations.“
Latifi started off the 2019 F2 season with the championship lead, collecting three wins within the first three rounds, before a turn in form saw de Vries claim the top step and Latifi demoted down to second within the standings.
The Canadian maintains second with 194 points to his name, but can still be caught by Luca Ghiotto, DAMS’ team-mate Sergio Sette Câmara and Jack Aitken with two races left.
With Latifi still fighting to finish second in the standings, the aim for him is clear and obvious going into the last weekend of the season.
“Going into the last race, the goal is clear: to at least maintain my second place in the championship. Abu Dhabi is one of my favourite races to go to, the whole event has one of the best atmospheres. It’s a beautiful track aesthetically, and the fact we get to drive at night makes it unique.
“I have no doubt we’ll be at the sharp end in practice, qualifying and the races. That should enable us to fight for podiums and wins – and it would be nice to get a pole position as well!”
Throughout the 2019 season, Latifi has been linked with a potential drive in F1 next year with Williams. Latifi joined the team at the beginning of the season to act as their third driver.
But with Robert Kubica confirming his exit from F1, Latifi has been the favourite alongside Nico Hülkenberg, who is without a drive next year following his exit from the Renault F1 Team, to replace the Polish driver. Latifi is guaranteed to finish in the top five this season, allowing him to accumulate enough Super Licence points to race in F1.
Prior to the final round of F2, Latifi has commented in a number of interviews that 2019 would be his final year in the junior series, regardless of where he will finish in the series.
With his future yet decided, Latifi hopes in his final race he can help DAMS seal the teams’ championship, with a fight between the French team and UNI-Virtuosi Racing still undecided.
“I’ve said in many interviews that this is my last season in Formula 2, regardless of how the campaign went. This was always going to be my last year,” commented Latifi.
“As well as runners-up in the Drivers’ Championship, we’re also fighting to win the Teams’ Championship. I’d love to finish my time with DAMS by helping them seal the title. I know how much hard work and effort they put in, so it would mean a lot to give them that.”