Williams’ Nicholas Latifi said, following tyre struggles in France, he somehow started gaining “seconds of pace” out of the blue late on in the race.
Drivers throughout the field found tyre degradation to be a serious issue in the race at Paul Ricard on Sunday, with wear higher than had been anticipated in practice playing havoc with how drivers were performing.
But Latifi bucked a trend in that, after plummeting at the start of his second stint, he was able to pull back his deficit as his tyres got older.
Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t enough for the Canadian to make good headway in climbing up the standings as the damage had been done earlier in his stint.
“Extremely tough,” Latifi told reporters about his race as a whole. “I got a good start, which is good – I put myself in a good position, but for whatever reason, right from lap 1 it was just the [bad] feeling from the car.
“Coming from the tyres, it was like driving on ice for some reason. It wasn’t like I was struggling with one axle more than the other, it was just both – there was absolutely nothing.
“Even when I put the prime on, obviously it’s going to be a bit better but, for most of the stint, it was still pretty poor until maybe the last 12 laps or so.
“Then from me changing absolutely nothing, I was finding seconds of lap time all of a sudden out of nowhere.
“I don’t understand as to why because, for me, there was something not quite right.”
— Nicholas Latifi (@NicholasLatifi) June 21, 2021
Dave Robson, head of vehicle performance at Williams was happy with the team’s work on Sunday, however. George Russell managed to recover from a poor start to go on and drive what the Briton called his “best ever race” with Williams, earning a P12 finish around Paul Ricard.
But Robson did acknowledge, meanwhile, that Latifi’s initial tyre issues were a problem and it was too late to make headway further up the field.
“Nicholas struggled a little during the middle of his second stint with the tyres falling just out of their window for a while. Unfortunately, this cost him a lot of track position,” he said.
“George meanwhile was just able to thread the needle and keep the tyres going throughout the stint, finishing a well-deserved P12 following an excellent overtake on Tsunoda.
“To achieve this position with no retirements and after a difficult opening lap, is an excellent result for the team and testament to a lot of hard work behind the scenes, both at the track and back in Grove.”