Latifi “extremely happy” as pit stop gamble leads to first points of season

2022 Japanese Grand Prix

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A delighted Nicholas Latifi scored his first points of the season in the Japanese Grand Prix after he successfully gambled on making an early switch to intermediate tyres.

The Williams driver, who has already learned he will be dropped by the team at the end of the season, worked his way forward from 19th on the grid. He moved up to 14th place at the start, then was one of the first drivers to pit to replace their full wet weather tyres.

He ran as high as eighth at one stage but was unable to keep George Russell behind him and finished ninth. However that delivered his first points score for more than a year.

He said the early pit stop was key to his result. “We made the right decision to pit straight away for the inters which was critical in jumping the cars ahead of us,” said Latifi.

“I struggled at the end with the front tyres but I’m extremely happy to hold on and get my first points of the season. Overall, I’m really happy for the team and it’s a nice morale boost.”

Latifi took the chequered flag narrowly ahead of Lando Norris’s McLaren. The team’s head of vehicle performance Dave Robson said the driver played a role in the decisive tactical call.

“Nicky did an excellent job in tricky conditions,” said Robson. “He was part of the decision to make the early switch to intermediates and this paid handsomely as he soon got into a potential points scoring position.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Japanese Grand Prix in pictures
“Although Russell was able to overtake, Nicky had the measure of the McLarens and managed his car really well to collect his first points of the season.”

Alexander Albon retired on the first lap in the other Williams but made contact with Kevin Magnussen’s Haas on the first lap which left him with radiator damage and ended his race.

“It’s definitely a shame as I felt like today was a chance to maybe score some points,” he said. “I actually had a very good start and was really pleased with it but then with the visibility being so poor, I couldn’t see the car next to me. I couldn’t even see the track.

“I had a light touch with Kevin but where we hit it touched the radiator, we lost water pressure and it was leaking, so we had to stop the car.”

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2022 Japanese Grand Prix

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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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14 comments on “Latifi “extremely happy” as pit stop gamble leads to first points of season”

  1. The early decision was a brave gamble, and keeping the tyres working well enough to continue fending off faster cars was a good job. Latifi is not good enough to be competitive in F1, but he has his days, and last year he looked a lot more comfortable in the car. He’ll probably be able to find plenty of racing opportunities on just a slightly lower level.

    1. Yeah – his first two seasons he wasn’t terrible by any stretch, especially last year. On some days he was on par with George (who I think is broadly placed in the ‘top bracket’ of drivers). But this year for whatever reason he’s been lacking massively. A couple of points on a wet day in Suzuka isn’t really indicative of his season. I think there is some talent there, I can see him going ‘state-side’ or WEC or whatever he does next I’m sure he’ll be decent enough at it.

      Just so long as he remembers where the chicane is at Suzuka :-).

      *and don’t blame the car if he doesn’t.

    2. Not sure why Nicky would keep racing. He did it all, made it to Formula 1, earned points.

      There’s life to be lived, and money to be made.

      1. He’s pretty much a definitive dilettante, doubt he’s going to find much in the way of adrenaline hits from making money.

    3. Not sure I’d call it a ‘brave gamble’. He was basically guaranteed no points if he’d have stayed on wets any longer than he did so made sense to come in asap and hope that the inters would be good enough. Good on him for managing to get some points though and avoid the shame of being beaten in the standings by someone who only did 1 race in the season and in the same car.

  2. This is great news for Nicholas. I hope this isn’t the last we see of him, but if it is then at least he can leave with 2 points. Also, this means all the full time drivers now have points this year.

    1. José Lopes da Silva
      9th October 2022, 22:28

      A 1st in F1 history? something for the Racefans team to check out.

      1. A very probably first. Shows the new Brawn aero regs are working like the chassis that won Hamilton and Toto all their titles, but which he barely is ever mentioned for creating.

      2. Ha ha! No, this isn’t the first time in F1 history that all the full time drivers have got points in a season. I did a quick check before when I wrote that comment and found all the drivers had received points in 2018. That year only 20 drivers raced and they all scored points. This year we have had 22 drivers start a race, but those extra 2 substituted for a full time driver, so I didn’t count them.
        Looking back over the last 20 years, including 2002, these are the only two years where all the full time drivers have received points.
        I noticed this was nearly achieved in 2005. Robert Doombos was the only driver who didn’t score any points in any of the 8 races in which he competed, but they were all consecutive races, so I considered him to be a full time driver, so I think we have to exclude that year as well. The points scoring system was different then, but even if they’d used the current system Robert still wouldn’t have received any points because he failed to finish in the top 10 at any of his races. The ironic part is it looks like Robert replaced Patrick Friesacher who had scored points that year (3). Presumably the team wasn’t happy with Patrick’s performance so they replaced him with Robert, but the latter scored no points. He did, however, bring the car home 6 times out of 8 races, which was more than Patrick did (5 finishes from 11 starts).

  3. I don’t think early pitstop is a gamble. Everyone should be aware that intermediate is better option after wet free practice sessions and behind safety car.

    I was kinda hoping that Max would be the only one with full wet tyre at the restart.

    1. I believe wet tires were mandated by the FIA given it was a ralloing start?

      1. I mean after safety car in, Ferrari could instruct one of their drivers to had different strategy. A bit too hopeful, I know.

  4. I’m just happy he managed to avoid finishing the season as the only full-time driver without points.

  5. Great for Latifi…..

    Other thing, that pic somehow reminded me of the Simtek above anything else. xD

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