Nicholas Latifi admitted that the limited time to adapt to the car and the track in the only Free Practice session before qualifying is going to make things even more “exciting”.
Due to the new weekend format, the drivers will only have one hour of practice to set up the car in the best way possible before heading into qualifying. Latifi said that this will make everything more difficult given that usually, the FP1 session is the least representative of the weekend.
“If you take the car out of it, first, speaking about the driver in FP1, the track is never going to be in an ideal situation. So even if they might, as the driver, be extracting close to everything they feel is possible, the track’s going to change and the driver is going to have to take another step. So that bullseye is going to move a little bit from your references and everything like that.”
Moreover, Latifi added that sometimes, the track is very green and not in the best conditions during the first free practice session. Thus, the car feels a bit different from one session to another, and if the track will not be in good condition, the setup could be wrong for qualifying.
“Sometimes we arrive in FP1 and the track is in very, very poor condition – dusty, dirty, green,” said Latifi yesterday. “Then the car could feel not really in a good window, but you kind of decide, well, we don’t chase the set-up for how the track is right now, we know the track’s going to come to us.
“If the car is not in a good window after FP1, after those first few laps especially, you have some very critical decisions to make in a very short amount of time. Because whatever you do decide you’re stuck with for the rest of the weekend.”
The weekend will be “exciting”, admitted the Canadian since there will be more pressure on the drivers’ shoulders.
“It does put more pressure on everyone to get it right. And even from the driver’s point of view, because the drivers are ultimately the ones who are going to be leading the direction for what you do in your teams with your engineers and whatnot.”
George Russell as well said that the drivers will have to approach the weekend in a slightly different way given that there will not be three free practice sessions. The Williams driver said that the drivers will have to use “a bit more of a different skill set because having the three sessions gives the driver and the team three opportunities to nail the driving and to nail the set-up ready for qualifying, whereas now you’ve just got to get on with it.
“The drivers are going to have to adapt to the situation, adapt to difficulties because no car is going to be as good or as nicely set up as it would be ordinarily. And I think that is good in itself because it puts a bit more of a challenge on the drivers. And we’re all in the same boat at the end of the day.”