Latifi reveals he had no idea he tangled with Mazepin in Lap 1 crash at Imola
Conditions were so difficult at the start of the race at Imola that Nicholas Latifi admits he had no idea he was involved in contact with Nikita Mazepin when he crashed out on the opening lap.
A promising Friday and Saturday gave way to a frustratingly short race on Sunday for Latifi, who spun off at Acque Minerali and then squeezed Mazepin after rejoining, leading to contact that pitched the Williams driver into the wall. With Latifi driving across on the Haas until there was no room left, he admits he only found out there had been another car involved in his crash much later after the incident.
“Obviously visibility was extremely, extremely poor,” Latifi explained. “Probably the worst I’ve ever had at the start of the race, partly because of the nature of the track, it’s old tarmac so it kicks up a lot of water, and was absolutely impossible to see.
“The first off I had I caught a bit of rear locking… so I was off the track at the bottom of the Acque Minerali corner, came back on, staying to the left side as much as I could. I thought [Sebastian] Vettel was the last comer as I saw him go by me… I came back on the track, naturally the line takes you there anyway, and it was obviously very, very slippery.
“To be honest I didn’t even see Nikita, there was spray and looking back at the video he would have been in my blind spot, but I was not aware he was there, so I actually up until quite a lot after the incident – I was at the medical centre for quite a long time due to the paperwork – I thought I just got a bit of wheelspin and spun off because of that, so I was not aware I made contact with Nikita until a lot afterwards.
“So yeah, frustrating. Unfortunate. We knew there’d be some opportunities, difficult conditions, extremely frustrated with myself that I didn’t even get to participate in the race and see what could have been possible. That’s how racing goes sometimes. Saturday was loving it, [Sunday] not so much.”
Latifi had been impressively quick on Friday and outpaced team mate George Russell in Q1 before being beaten in Q2. So the Canadian views his performance up to the race as a source of both frustration that he didn’t capitalise on Sunday, but also encouragement for the future.
I’m frustrated with myself, thinking of the potential of an opportunity that has been thrown away by not even making it around the first lap.
“For sure it’s extremely frustrating. Immediately when it happens I’m frustrated with myself, thinking of the potential of an opportunity that has been thrown away by not even making it around the first lap. I was by no means pushing hard and taking risks, I didn’t really push at all, just cruising around there with the visibility.
“I felt I was strolling along and still enough to spin off. It’s frustrating. The good job I did on Saturday, we did as a team, nothing to come from it, but it does bode well going to future races and there will be more tracks like this, more similar to this, as opposed to Bahrain which didn’t suit our car as well.
“There is optimism going forward, hopefully repeating those kinds of performances in qualifying and let’s see what happens in the race. Just one of those things to brush off. It can happen. You can see how many drivers were going off in the race. When it settles down and the tyres come up to temperature, you see it is a bit easier, but people were still going off.
“I watched back the onboards of pretty much every driver around me at the start and it’s just atrocious, the visibility. I’m surprised we didn’t start behind the Safety Car for a few laps to see how it would be, but it was pretty bad.”