While Nicholas Latifi qualified a career-best P12 at Spa, he felt getting into Q3 was a real possibility for him.
The Canadian was on form in the first part of qualifying as both Williams cars stole a march on their rivals by going straight out on intermediate tyres, offering a pace advantage from the off.
Latifi’s grid position will rise to P10 after Valtteri Bottas and Lando Norris take five-place penalties for respectively causing a first-lap collision in Hungary and a gearbox change. And while he enjoyed being able to run in wet conditions for his team, Latifi felt a better result was possible had he set another flying lap at the right time.
“Above all else, obviously my best result in qualifying in F1, but just more happy I got some proper experience running in the wet,” the Williams driver told Sky Sports after qualifying.
“It’s one thing I felt I’d been lacking a lot of confidence with in our car, the wet driving. We only really had Austria last year and Turkey, which was something else at the time.
“This year at Imola I didn’t do any of the laps of the race and just haven’t felt comfortable in our car when it’s rained.
“This was a good moment for me to get comfortable, get laps and get experience, so quite happy in the end with my best result and more so that I know there’s a lot more to come from me.
“There were a few little mistakes I made on my final lap and overall a positive result. The wet makes it more challenging for everyone and although both cars made it through, it makes it easier to get wrong from a driving point of view and I think I was the first to set my final lap on an ever-improving track.
“So I think we could have been in Q3 if we had maybe just timed it a bit better and with a better lap from my side. That as well brings confidence, but very happy nevertheless.”
— Williams Racing (@WilliamsRacing) August 28, 2021
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Latifi’s Williams team-mate, George Russell, pulled off what was arguably one of modern Formula 1’s great wet laps to put his car on the front row of the grid in a frantic qualifying session.
Max Verstappen took pole position, but Q3 was stopped after Lando Norris’ enormous impact in the tyre barriers at Raidillon. While he had a precautionary X-ray on his elbow, Norris has since been cleared to race on Sunday.
Latifi was able to sympathise with the McLaren driver, acknowledging it was a tough day all round for drivers up and down the grid.
“All day it’s been on and off raining, sometimes very hard, and just as I was walking over to the weighbridge I heard Vettel saying it should be red-flagged.
“It’s obviously a very high-speed track, I don’t know if he aquaplaned or what happened but it can be quite dangerous. It’s obviously a very tricky session.”