Nicholas Latifi used team radio to make his dissatisfaction clear to Williams after the Sao Paulo Grand Prix – and it earned him a telling off.
The Canadian racer is no stranger to losing the inter-team battle on a race weekend against his team-mate, future Mercedes driver George Russell, but for much of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix that was not the case.
In Friday qualifying it was Latifi who got the better of Russell, who these days is known as ‘Mr Saturday’ for his often strong showings on that day when qualifying is traditionally held.
Sprint qualifying was then also a success as Latifi crossed the line P16, one place ahead of Russell, and race day looked set to complete a solid weekend for the Canadian.
That changed though when he pitted on lap 13 under the Virtual Safety Car, at that point ahead of Russell.
It was the second lap of the VSC period, so after it was withdrawn on the following lap, while drivers were in the first sector, Latifi found himself dropping from P18 to P19, now 18 seconds behind Yuki Tsunoda who had passed him at the restart of a full Safety Car period earlier in the race.
Ultimately finishing P16, three places behind team-mate Russell, Latifi was far from pleased and crossing the line said over team radio “I’m not happy with the strategy at all guys”, to which his race engineer responded “not on the radio mate, do not use the radio for that”.
Told to keep his complaints private, Latifi explained afterwards his frustration stemmed from what had turned into a “very lonely” race, when initially he had been in the action, then suddenly for “90% of the race” was “nowhere near” that lower midfield cluster of cars which had included the likes of Kimi Raikkonen, Lando Norris, Tsunoda and Mick Schumacher.
— Nicholas Latifi (@NicholasLatifi) November 14, 2021
Expanding on the time loss while pitting under the VSC, Latifi told The Race: “We pitted under the VSC, then the VSC ended and we lost pretty much a race lap compared to the guys who stopped under the first Safety Car.
“From inside the car it’s difficult to see where it went wrong. I came out of the pits in that gap, [and was there] for the rest of the race because I just lost a free stop.”
As for his pace against Russell, and whether that could be a source of satisfaction, Latifi said that was a case of “yes and no”.
Williams have found themselves slipping back from their initial strong showings following the summer break, but the Sao Paulo GP was a particular low with the Grove outfit rarely looking a threat to the points-paying positions.
“We just didn’t have the pace we wanted to have as a team, especially not being able to challenge for Q2. It was the furthest we’ve been off in that regard,” Latifi admitted.
“In the race I wasn’t in a position to even race George, unfortunately. That was completely out of my control, so on that side [there’s] not much else to comment on.”