Renault Sport Formula One Team’s Test Driver Nicholas Latifi endured a challenging weekend in Monaco weekend in Formula 2 after an exploding battery quashed any chances of scooping points.
But that has not deterred the Canadian in his quest of pursuing a seat in Formula 1. And following his first test in the R.S.17 in Barcelona on May 17th, Latifi has got the urge for more.
What is it like being a Canadian motorsport driver ?
I have great pride in representing Canada on the world stage. Motorsport is big in Canada and North America. We have IndyCar here, but Formula 1 has prestige and is huge worldwide and I am trying to pursue that. There are only a handful of Canadians racing in Europe. It is nice to put Canada on the map and I hope to get to F1 one day.
Have you ever driven at the Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve ?
I have never driven the track there actually. One day in a Formula 1 car and in a race one day ! Anyone who has been to the Canadian Grand Prix knows how exciting it is. So many people go, the atmosphere is incredible. I think it was one of the best attended Grands Prix last year.
What was driving the R.S.17 like ?
It was an honour and a privilege to drive the R.S.17 in a Pirelli test in Barcelona. It was an amazing opportunity to drive a modern day F1 car. The downforce, the bigger tyres, it was a cool experience. I found it quite easy to get up to speed and actually that surprised me. I approached it the same way as I approach any car. I was a bit uncertain before I jumped in, but after two laps I was fine. I had a big grin under the helmet when I drove it out of the pit lane, it was very impressive. There was so much grip, I was able to push very early which was good. I had a whole day in the car and I had to get up to speed quickly for the tyre test to get the right data for them. I think I did 141 laps in the end, I wasn’t sure what to expect physically. These new cars have high Gs, I was happy to do so many laps. I admit, my neck was quite sore the next day !
When did the F1 dream begin ?
I started motorsport quite late as I only started karting when I was 13. I went to the Canadian Grand Prix when I was younger, I think my first was when I was 8 or 9 years old. I wasn’t actually a die hard Formula 1 fan then, I didn’t idolise any drivers. But as I got into racing I found some drivers I wanted to emulate. Michael Schumacher, what he accomplished was amazing. Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso too, they have characteristics in their driving which would be good to emulate.
How do you reflect on Monaco ?
The weekend as a whole was frustrating, I started P9 but I thought we could have done better than that. I thought my laps were quite good and I was surprised to see them not as quick as I imagined. The battery exploded on the car in the Feature race so that ended my chances there. I think it could have been a decent weekend with a haul of points, but it wasn’t to be !