The Canadian had a good qualifying session, but a first-lap accident in the race put an end to his weekend
By Yuri Coghe
For the first time in Nicholas Latifi’s Formula 1 career, he’s not driving the slowest car in the grid. But Imola didn’t become the first race where he was able to capitalize on it.
The Williams driver, who has seen his team move ahead in the pecking order to the detriment of Haas, did well on Saturday making it to the Q2. An early crash in the race, however, meant the weekend was over for the Canadian.
The race started in wet conditions and it didn’t take long for Latifi to lose control of his car. He then encountered the Haas of Nikita Mazepin when rejoining the track, and their contact was enough to send the Williams driver to the barrier and end his race on the first lap. Watch the accident here.
“I’m gutted about today’s race and massive apologies to the team after an amazing job all weekend,” Latifi said on Sunday. “The rain made visibility extremely poor and I just couldn’t see.”
But Imola wasn’t all negatives for the Canadian. Both Williams advanced to the Q2 for the first time since the 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix on Saturday, and Latifi was fastest than teammate George Russell by 0s979 in the Q1. The Q2 reestablished the normalcy between the Williams duo as the Briton qualified 12th, two positions ahead of Latifi.
Russell has yet to be out-qualified by a Williams teammate. He has a perfect Saturday record for the team since joining F1 in 2018 and sharing the garage with Robert Kubica.
“The first Q2 of the year for me and the team’s best qualifying performance since Hungary last year. The car was on it all weekend and we’re heading in the right direction,” reflected Latifi.
Russell also retired from the race, taking himself and Valtteri Bottas out when he tried to overtake the Finn for the ninth position on lap 31. Two DNFs, no points for Williams.
“Today we really thought we had a good chance to score some points,” said Williams Head of Vehicle Performance Robson after the race. “The mixed conditions at the start were not really ideal but I think we took them in our stride and we made some good decisions.”
“And then to finish with nothing is obviously deeply frustrating. But I suppose the only positive is the car was good, the pace was good. At least the accident came as a result of us attacking, and of all the cars to attack it was the Mercedes, which is not something we’ve been able to do for a long time.”