Nicholas Latifi was disappointed after finishing in eleventh on debut with Williams Racing, after missing out on the points at the Austrian Grand Prix by one place.
Latifi got his Formula 1 career off to a good start despite finishing outside of the points scoring places, equalling the best result of his teammate George Russell.
“So, today was when I finally got to go racing in F1 and for the first time my nerves began to build. It was just the anticipation I guess, the excitement of making my debut. If you didn’t feel anything it wouldn’t be normal.
Latifi compared the build up to the race from watching on television verse actually being sat in the car.
“I was eager to get going. Being strapped into the car and pulling up on the grid was a special time. I’ve watched it on TV a million times and now I was experiencing it.
“Okay, it was a bit different without spectators and the media around, but those moments, and being in the circle for the national anthem, felt almost surreal.
“To finally take the start, the lights out moment, was a terrific feeling. I got off cleanly with no risks. This wasn’t the race for any of that.“
Latifi talked of how he tried to make sure he did not make any mistakes on the start, trying to avoid a repeat of his crash in the third free practice session, where his FW43 his the wall and lost its front wing.
“I wanted to get the laps in, not throw it away by doing something silly. This was all about the learning opportunity. I settled into a rhythm but it wasn’t a straightforward race.
“From only the second lap we were struggling with a few temperature-related issues I had to manage by staying out of the tow. I also had a lot of dirty air.
“Everyone says in F1 it’s 20 times worse than what you’re used to in other racing categories and I can confirm they’re right – it’s insane how much grip you lose.“
Latifi talked through the majority of his race and what exactly happened. He emphasised how the safety cars did not come at the best times for him, apart from when it mean he was able to un-lap himself, to bring him back to the lead lap. He did say that despite the safety car he was able to learn a lot as he did not have to follow closely to other cars.
“I got a bit unlucky with the Safety Car; hindsight is a great thing in racing but we probably needed to pit on the first lap, even if that meant stacking both cars.
“In the event I ended up 12 or 13 seconds behind the train at the restart. A benefit however was being in clean air, and I was able to settle into a rhythm.
“I felt more comfortable and was able to extract more from the car. My pace relative to Grosjean and George looked pretty good.
Latifi felt he had pace close to his teammate Russell and tried to focus on his race and not everything around him.
“Then the Safety Car came out again and I was able to close the gap to the cars ahead. That felt good, even if it meant dealing with the same issues I had earlier in the race.
“By then there was a lot else going on – cars breaking down, tyres flying off, tyres blowing up right in front of me! I guess it was a race of attrition, things kept happening, so I decided to stay clean and see where that got me.”
The Canadian saw the positive side of finishing the race, concluding how he had learnt a lot in his first grand prix as he prepares for the rest of his rookie season in F1.
“For sure it was a bit disappointing for me and the team to miss out on a point by just one position, but going into the weekend if someone had offered me P11 on my debut I would have signed right there!
“Overall there are a lot of positives, many things learned, and if I had the chance to do it all again I know where I can improve. Luckily for me, I don’t have long to wait until I get the chance to do just that.“