Nicholas Latifi says his race pace worked in 2020 F1 season – a carry over from F2 – but he was let down by his qualifying performances.
A clean Saturday win for Williams teammate George Russell against Latifi, was perhaps one of the biggest difference, in the fight between the two in all of 2020 F1 season. The Canadian struggled to match to the Brit, who made it into Q2 regularly.
He realised the shortcomings as well, where it was sometimes the car and sometimes his own driving which left much wanted. He, however, made up some ground on Sunday, where until Russell’s points via his drive with Mercedes, Latifi was leading him.
The Canadian had three P11 finishes to Russell’s one. One can argue that some of the results for Latifi was luck but the same could be said for the British driver. Reflecting on his rookie season, the Canadian felt his experience from F2 in races carried over in F1 too.
Also, it is evident from the junior career of Latifi that he has never been a good qualifier as his last direct pole came way back in 2013 in British F3. He has had five wins in his F2 career but no pole as opposed to Russell, who had five in his single F2 season.
Even though Latifi had strong races, where he had three crucial P11 finishes, the Canadian didn’t wish to take Austria into account from performance side, as he felt that was more on the luck side, whereas the ones in Monza and Imola were on the better side – especially the latter where he felt solid all-through the weekend.
“This one is about learning, and I think the biggest lesson for me is that I need to improve my Saturday performances – especially qualifying,” wrote Latifi in his post-season column. “Other areas like race pace, tyre management, strategy and so on have been some of my stronger hands, and I’m glad that carried over from F2, but that’s highlighted the need for me to improve on a Saturday.
“More often than not in qualifying this year I wasn’t getting the best out of the car or myself. I finished most of the sessions wishing I’d done something differently; whether that’s tyre preparation, getting the brakes in the right performance window, or kicking myself for not hooking up a clean lap.
“There always seemed to be something that left me wondering what if. It’s also worth noting that in my team-mate George, I’m up against one of the best qualifiers on the grid. He’s a good reference, and consistently gets the best out of the car. And he’s no slouch – as he showed when he jumped into the Mercedes in Bahrain.
“The trick of course is to understand and learn from from each of the individual qualifying situations I experienced this year – and that’s the plan for 2021. I need to put everything together, all the different elements, and make progress up the starting grid. Holding a higher position after just a few laps would make a huge difference as the race unfolds,” summed up Latifi.
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