Formula One preview: A lap of the Japanese Grand Prix
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Nicholas Latifi made a Formula One superfan keep his promise after claiming his first points of the season in a chaotic Japanese Grand Prix. The Canadian driver has had a torrid 2022 campaign but a ninth-place finish in Suzuka provided a welcome boost as he avoided the potential embarrassment of going an entire season without a single point.
Williams have confirmed their decision to release Latifi at the end of the season but a solid drive in Suzuka at least provided some solace for the 27-year-old. His team executed their strategy well amid treacherous race conditions in Japan.
Latifi capitalised on the early call to switch to the quicker intermediate tyres after the race was restarted following a red flag inside two laps. He managed his tyres to reach the chequered flag in ninth, his second-highest finish in Formula One after he finished seventh in Hungary last season.
And the result, which surprised many, even forced a Williams fan to take drastic action by getting a Latifi based tattoo. The fan, aptly named Williams F1 USA (Latifi Points Enjoyer) on Twitter, had claimed in July that he would have the artwork done if Latifi secured a race finish inside the points positions before the end of the season.
And the fan stuck to his word, uploading an image of his new body art with the Williams logo and the ‘LAT’ abbreviation for Latifi. The fan has now urged the US-based WIlliams team to set up a meeting with Latifi at the upcoming United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.
“A deals a deal! Hey@WilliamsRacing can I get a pic with _@NicholasLatifi in Austin at @COTA please!” the fan said. I’ll be there to cheer him on!”
Meanwhile, Latifi is under no illusions over his F1 career despite a morale-boosting finish at Suzuka. He has been second best in the Williams in his three seasons, being outdriven by George Russell and more recently Alex Albon.
Latifi knows a strong finish to this campaign will still not be enough to confirm a seat for 2023 and is instead set to consider his options in motorsport.
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“It was nice to get the first points of the season,” Latifi said. “I had the crucial thing, which was getting the inter on right away. Getting that free air on the right tyre was a bit of a no-brainer for me.
“As well, being towards the back you have less to lose. That was my call and it was the right call.
“It was tricky to get them to the end, already eight laps into the stint the front tyres were completely gone, so [I was] just hanging on. “It’s a points finish so it’s a positive, a nice morale booster.
“But if a decision hadn’t already been made up to this point about my future, I don’t think a race like this would have changed much because it was always going to be about consistency across the year, not one good result here and there.”
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