F.3 – Nicholas Latifi " My target is to reach the Top 3 by Monza race"

nicholas_latifi.jpg'The Italian Formula 3 European Series gets ready to get into the second part of the Championship, so it’s time for Nicholas Latifi to take stock of the racing season.

After the first four apprenticeship races, the 17 year-old Italo-Canadian driver is now ready to reap the fruit of his hard labour and aim at the podium he was about to get in Budapest.
Last week the JD Motorsport driver was again behind the wheel of his Mygale 18 at the Red Bull Ring, to take part in the collective test arranged by Championship planners to prepare next challenge which will just take place at the Austrian circuit. During the two test days Nicholas has confirmed the improvements gained in the past races, climbing the standing to the second place.
We arrived at the turning point. What is your judgment after Valencia, Budapest, Mugello and Misano?
The first 4 races of the season have been a significant learning experience for me. Coming direct out of karting into F3 has been an exciting challenge for me. I must admit, I am not pleased with my finishing positions as I am extremely competitive and want to Win! Nor do I feel satisfied unless I am the fastest driver on the track! However I understand the level of experience of the other drivers I am competing against and need to stay focused on learning the tracks, familiarize myself with the car and how to work with my engineer to improve the cars performance. I am confident the results will come as my times get closer and closer to the front runners. The last test at RedBull Ring I was second to my teammate Ricardo. I am looking forward to the race and to set my sites on a top 3 finish.
I am focused on continuing to improve and develop as a driver for the remainder of the season and to strive for better results, lap times and racing for the last 4 events of the season.
After every weekend you could improve your times. What is your target by the end of the championship?
I have set a goal to be able to run with the top drivers by the end of the season and finish in the top 3. I am aware this is an aggressive goal, but as discussed, I am never really happy or satisfied with my performance unless I have a chance at winning. In karting, in only 3 seasons came 5 corners from a possible victory in the world championships combined with numerous wins and championship titles so its hard to start over again and have to climb the ladder. I am focused and committed to do what I need to do to arrive at the end of the season and have a chance to win races or finish in the top 3
In this first part of the season you’ve got to drive the Dallara is that the Mygale. What differences have you found?
Switching from the dallara to the mygale was a positive move, however it was difficult as I had all my pre-season testing and km in the dallara and then to switch only after the 2nd race was difficult. I had to re-adjust my driving, understanding of the car and the general feel of the car is different. I am pleased with the mygale and feel it Is a great car. The Dallara was also a great car to drive, I just think the mygale has suited me more.
It ‘s been difficult to adapt to the style of driving a Formula 3 car, coming from karting?
The transition from karts to cars has not been a difficult transition for me in terms of driving, however as I mentioned not being at the top and winning is the mental challenge I think every athlete and driver faces when they move up. There are very significant difference between driving cars and karts, the most important one is cars are much less forgiving and when you make a mistake it costs you much more time or an off. Karts are very simple to recover from mistakes. I will say that karting is the best form of racing, I am still trying to get use to the fact that passing in f3 is so difficult because of the downforce, in my karting races there are sometimes 3 to 4 passes for the lead every lap!! I miss this as I love to aggressively race, head to head, there is nothing more exciting and I really miss this.
Live and study in Canada, but run in Europe. An extra challenge for you, given the time difference. How have you organized?
The traveling is for sure not an easy thing to get use to. Time change, planes, airports, long drives all has an impact but I understand this is all part of it. My family and I are always looking at options to possibly setup a base in Europe to minimize my travel. We will see for next season how we will address this issue. It has gotten a bit better, the first race in valencia I was really hit hard by the time change and I know this is not the best situation for a driver. I work hard mentally and physically to improve every aspect of my physical performance to help me cope with this challenge.
In preparation for the appointment in Austria, you’re back on track for the joint test at the Red Bull Ring, confirming the obvious progress of the last races. What job you did with your team and your engineer?
The Redbull 2 day test was similar to the imola test, we found a good setup, the car had a good balance and I was top 4 the first day and was able to end the last day 2nd fastest to my teammate Ricardo. Like every track I go to they are “All” new to me so I need to first learn the track then work with my engineer to set the car up. I have set a goal to be top three at the event. We have a good car and I am more experienced with the tire and maximizing my performance in qualifying when the tire is at its peak performance. This has taken some time to learn and develop to build a confidence in pushing the car in the early laps. I am much more acclimated and comfortable now. We will see, but I am really confident in my chances at Rebdbull ring. Hoping it will be a good race with lost of competition and hopefully some passing and action!
What is the most important point of the track for the fastest time in qualifying and what are the points to pass?
The Redbull track is one of the most fun to drive, it has elevation changes, slow med and fast corners. I also think this track may be a little better for passing