Even after his Bahrain Grand Prix ended in a disappointing retirement, Canadian driver Nicholas Latifi says he was ‘surprised’ with how well his 2021 FW43B car performed in the race.
Latifi’s evening was over before he could see the checkered flag due to boost issues supposedly brought on via engine oscillations that were detected early on in the night. The problems continued to hamper him throughout his fifty-six lap tour of the Sakhir circuit which saw him spin and struggle to make waves, yet he feels as though the race was a good indication that Williams Racing has made leaps and bounds over the course of the winter.
“I was pleasantly surprised with how the handling of the car felt in the race.” Said Latifi.
“We were expecting something quite tricky to handle but, irrespective of the issue that caused us to retire, I was surprised with the driveability of the car. It’s still not where we want to be, but I think that was a positive going forward.”
Nicholas then went on to explain the issue regarding the engine in greater depth, citing that ‘straight away’ there were issues shortly after lights out.
“Even with the laps to the grid, I felt we were getting some oscillations in the engine with power and it seems we had a suspected boost leak which is why we had to retire in the end. We tried to stay out for as long as possible, hoping that a few cars might retire, but in the last half of the race we were just circulating and not really racing.“
Latifi concluded: “It’s not how you want the first race to go but that is just motorsport sometimes.”
After still not managing to edge team-mate George Russell in Qualifying, Latifi will have his eyes fixated firmly on the next race at the historic Imola circuit where Russell came close to points last year. It’s of paramount importance he showcases his true talent in order to silence armchair critics and help bring the legendary Williams name back to the top step of the podium.
Russell hails ‘well-executed’ season opener
On the other side of the garage, talented Brit George Russell was also commending the pace of the new 2021 equipment.
Russell qualified an admirable fifteenth- solidifying his status as the so-called ‘Mr. Saturday’- and went on to hold position and complete a decent race, competing with the likes of Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN’s Kimi Raikkonen along the way to exhibit his superior race craft and stellar determination.
Although no points were attained, George divulged that the relative pace of the Williams was ‘quite strong’ in comparison to what the team had envisaged ahead of the weekend. He says fifteenth was ‘the maximum’ available for Sunday’s race and that the team will ‘look forward to Imola’ where they can further assess their speed.
“It was nice to be racing and I had a good little tussle at the beginning, making a few places and losing a few places.”
“I thought it was a well-executed race. The first stint was tricky but the second and third were as good as can be and our relative pace was quite strong. That was the maximum today and I think our relative pace was good. I’m now looking forward to Imola and assessing where we are there.”