Nicholas Latifi, Williams, Silverstone, 2021

Limited practice time in new format “exciting” – Latifi

2021 British Grand Prix

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Nicholas Latifi expects a challenging hour of practice before the crucial qualifying session for this weekend’s British Grand Prix.

Formula 1’s new sprint qualifying format this weekend means drivers only have one practice session, today, before parc fermé is enforced and cars cannot be significantly altered.

Friday’s schedule contains a single, mid-afternoon hour of practice, a few hours before a normal qualifying session to decide the grid for the first sprint qualifying race tomorrow.

Latifi said it will be difficult to gauge the car’s performance in first practice as it is typically the least representative practice session.

“If you take the car out of it, first, speaking about the driver in FP1, the track is never going to be in an ideal situation. So even if they might, as the driver, be extracting close to everything they feel is possible, the track’s going to change and the driver is going to have to make another step. So that bullseye is going to move a little bit from your references and everything like that.”

During practice for W Series and Formula 2 earlier today, cars ran through cement dust which was laid to cover a significant oil spill across much of the track.

“Sometimes we arrive in FP1 and the track is in very, very poor condition – dusty, dirty, green,” said Latifi yesterday. “Then the car could feel not really in a good window, but you kind of decide, well, we don’t chase the set-up for how the track is right now, we know the track’s going to come to us.

“If the car is not in a good window after FP1, after those first few laps especially, you definitely have some very critical decisions to make in a very short amount of time. Because whatever you do decide you’re stuck with for the rest of the weekend.”

That challenge is “exciting in a way”, said Latifi, “because it does put more pressure on everyone to get it right. And even from the driver’s point of view, because the drivers are ultimately the ones who are going to be leading the direction for what you do in your individual teams with your engineers and whatnot.”

Latifi’s Williams team mate George Russell said drivers will have to use “a bit more of a different skill set, because having the three sessions gives the driver and the team three opportunities to to nail the driving and to nail the set-up ready for qualifying, whereas now you’ve just got to get on with it.

“The drivers are going to have to adapt to the situation, adapt to difficulties, because no car is going to be as good or as nicely set up as it would be ordinarily. And I think that is good in itself, because it puts a bit more of a challenge on the drivers. And we’re all in the same boat at the end of the day.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
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