SECOND PODIUM FOR LATIFI IN TWO RACES AND STANDS IN SECOND PLACE OF THE FIA F2 CHAMPIONSHIP
Today’s race was called a sprint race and it was for race winner Luca Ghiotto. The shorter race today(23 laps) meant that tires degradation would play a major role in the outcome of the race.
The reverse starting grid from yesterday’s top eight at the checkered flag meant that Mick Schumacher was on pole and and the top three finishers Brazilian Sérgio Sette Câmara(3rd), Italian Luca Ghiotto(2nd) and race winner Canadian Nicolas Latifi started in 6-7-8 respectively.
At the start of the race, Mick Schumacher kept the lead and Latifi made up 2 spots by corner 1 and was in third by the end of lap 1. By lap 3, Sette Câmara passed Schumacher and Ghiotto passed Latifi for third. Ghiotto continue to move up the order passing Sette Camara for the lead on lap 4 and Latifi then passed Schumacher on the same lap for third.
Driving on medium compound tires, everyone had to think about a possible tire change by mid race at the latest. The softer compound tire available was about 5 seconds a lap faster with a clear track. With the cars running so close together, this meant you could end up at the back of the pack with almost the entire field to pass with no many laps to go.
By lap 13, with a 6 seconds lead over Sette Camara and 7.5s over Latifi, Ghiotto came into the pits to gamble with the softer compound. The DAMS team of Sette Câmara and Latifi were now running 1-2 and elected to continue on the same medium compound tires. As Ghiotto came out of the pits, he was 28.5 seconds behind the leader and with about 10 laps to make up the lost time.
Although Sette Camara was leading, Latifi was showing a better pace and tried attacking his teammate for the lead for a good three laps. All the while Ghiotto was gaining positions. But having abused his tires a little too much, had to back down and bring it home.
With just over two laps to go, Luca Ghiotto took the lead from the Brazilian.
At the checkered flag, Luca Ghiotto took the checkered flag with a 5 seconds lead over Sérgio Sette Câmara and Nicolas Latifi a further 2 seconds behind.
During the press conference, Nicolas was asked about his battle with teammate Sérgio Sette Câmara: “Yeah it was pretty standard attacking and defending from both parts. Obviously he’s my teammate so the last thing you want is crash. I think I was too far back to go for a launch. It was more about trying to put pressure on him. He defended really well and made no mistake. I had to settle for P3 in the end.”
Asked if, should he have been able to pass his teammate, could he have made it harder on race winner Luca Ghiotto Nicolas said: “There was one lap when I could have passed Sérgio. I think he made a mistake and locked up and I went right back into DRS range. I thought ‘that’s it’. I honestly thought I had the pace to win the race. For me I was compromising at the beginning: just like Sérgio I was a bit indecisive with the strategy call. When Luca came by me I knew 100% right away the alternative strategy was better. I thought if anybody could get at the front and manage the tyres, making a no stopper, it could probably be me. I pushed a bit more than I wanted to. I think if I had gone past Sérgio at the start – because we battled at Turn 1 – I honestly think we could have won the race. The clean air would have made a big difference. But it’s racing: so many things happen…”
Nicolas will take part in the F1 rookie test in Bahrain this week for Williams F1. This will be his first time at the wheel of the 2019 F1 car.
The next race of the F2 championship takes place in Baku, Azerbaijan from 26 – 28 April.
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