After a performance breakthrough at Imola, Portimao brought Nicholas Latifi back to square one with a total lack of confidence in his Williams.
The Canadian secured P14 on the grid for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, his strongest qualifying performance to date in Formula 1.
And although a first-lap spin and contact with Nikita Mazepin soon after left him in the wall, praise was rightfully being sent Latifi’s way for a clear step forward in his career.
Sadly though the struggles of old were back during Friday practice at the Portuguese Grand Prix. Latifi ended FP2 down in P19, nine tenths slower than team-mate George Russell, and the 25-year-old expressed a complete lack of confidence in the FW43B.
“Overall not very pleased with the day, definitely have our work cut out for us tonight,” he told reporters in the paddock.
“Obviously the next stage is to try and claw back some of the pace that’s missing, or a lot of pace. Straight away from FP1 it was quite a contrast to Imola where things were just clicking straight away, car feeling really nice.
“Just getting no confidence from the car. I didn’t expect it to be as straightforward as Imola, just because of the nature of the track, but definitely I was not anticipating this, there was obviously quite a split in pace between the two cars as well.
“It’s clear that there is something missing on my side for sure. There’s a lot of kinks on this track that should be easy flat-out that were borderline flat-out for me especially in FP1, so it’s just really a lack of confidence with the car.
“What’s creating that I’m not exactly sure yet, we did try some things going into FP2, marginally better, but still pretty much exactly the same struggles as in FP1 so probably as bad as a Friday can get for not having any accidents at all, but just lacking pace overall.”
Lots of laps completed and plenty of data to analyse this evening 📈
Onwards to the weekend 👉 pic.twitter.com/eoIGO8Y4PS
— Williams Racing (@WilliamsRacing) April 30, 2021
Russell fared far better than his team-mate on Friday and has set the minimum target of a Q2 appearance, as long as the winds stay light as expected for the weekend.
Williams seemed to lose performance as the day went on and the wind picked up, a known weakness for the team. Russell ended FP1 0.881s off the fastest time, but at the end of FP2 that gap was 1.139s.
“You would be right in saying that. The wind really picked up in the afternoon and it’s no secret that we struggle when the wind picks up which is unfortunate,” said Russell when asked about his drop-off in pace into the afternoon.
“But I think FP2 was the worst of it, it shouldn’t be getting any worse. Tomorrow and especially for Sunday everything should calm down. It’s incredibly exposed, very undulating here so if you do get a gust of wind you feel it.
“But that is just the weakness of our car, we have to deal with it, make the most of it, and I thought FP2 was far from our potential and we were still 13th and not a million miles away, and the high-fuel pace looked half decent. So we are in reasonable shape.
“I don’t want to overpromise and underdeliver but naturally if the wind dies down we will improve.
“So hopefully that was worst-case scenario in FP2 which was 13th. We will be in Q2 as a minimum I hope, fighting hopefully for points on Sunday.”