Williams Racing scored two points during Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix thanks to Nicholas Latifi, and Dave Robson, the Head of Vehicle Performance, praised the Canadian for performing an ‘excellent job’ in difficult conditions.
Latifi was one of the first drivers to switch to the intermediate tyres following the restart of the race, and by doing this, he was able to jump a number of places to run inside the top ten.
He may have lost a position to the recovering George Russell late in the day, but he had enough pace to maintain a good gap to the chasing Lando Norris, and he ended several seconds clear of the McLaren F1 Team driver in ninth place at the chequered flag to score his first points of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season.
Team-mate Alexander Albon was less fortunate, with the Thai driver retiring on lap one of the initial start after contact with Kevin Magnussen damaged his radiator, meaning he was forced to stop at the side of the track in the second sector.
Robson said it was an enjoyable race at the Suzuka International Racing Course once conditions allowed the cars to properly race, and it was pleasing to see the team score points for only the fourth time in 2022.
“Today was hectic and enjoyable, and in the end provided a very good race,” said Robson. “Track conditions were fine at the initial race start but the visibility made it incredibly difficult for all but the leader.
“Both Alex and Nicholas had excellent starts and made places initially but were unable to capitalise fully due to poor visibility at T1. Alex was unfortunate to suffer contact from the Haas, which damaged the radiator and forced him to retire.
“When the race finally restarted, Nicky did an excellent job in tricky conditions. He was part of the decision to make the early switch to intermediates and this paid handsomely as he soon got into a potential points scoring position.
“Although Russell was able to overtake, Nicky had the measure of the McLarens and managed his car really well to collect his first points of the season.”
Robson says it was good to be back at Suzuka for the first time since 2019, but it was a weekend of both highs and lows for the team, with the biggest high coming on Sunday thanks to Latifi’s top ten finish.
“It was great to be back in Suzuka to race at this superb circuit,” he said. “As a team we had some ups and downs over the course of the weekend, but we fought hard today and gave both drivers a good package for the conditions.
“It’s disappointing that Alex was prevented from capitalising but great for Nicky and his team to score some points.”