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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 09: Nicholas Latifi of Canada and Williams walks in the Paddock during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at Baku City Circuit on June 09, 2022 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Latifi suffered penalties but Gasly said he “did the right thing”

The Canadian didn't have a good weekend in Baku.

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Williams driver Nicholas Latifi has received a penalty for missing 12 blue flags during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. 

Nicholas Latifi at Baku
Nicholas Latifi at Baku City Circuit on June 12, 2022 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Last weekend, Formula One raced in Baku for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, round eight of the championship. Red Bull’s Monaco success continued into the weekend. Max Verstappen took the top step of the podium with Sergio Perez in P2.

Baku never fails to provide drama and yesterday five drivers retired from the race – four of them driving Ferrari engines. Those who DNF’d were not the only unlucky drivers during the race.

Nicholas Latifi’s Race

Nicholas Latifi who finished the race in 15th (last due to all the retirements) had an unfortunate race. The Canadian started the race in 18th, but even before the lights went out, he was already under investigation.

Prior to the formation lap, the Williams’ crew pushed Latifi’s FW44 back whilst on the grid. However, the mechanic did this within the 15-second signal and Latifi remained on the grid as normal. He should have started the race from the pit lane and as a result of not doing so, he received a 10-second stop/go penalty.

Latifi felt that: “the penalty undid everything before [the race] even started.”

Unfortunately for the Williams driver, his troubles didn’t end there.

A breach of the Sporting Code

Throughout the Grand Prix, there were lots of cars overtaking the backmarkers as they caught up. That in turn led to a lot of them being lapped – the bottom five drivers in the race result were all lapped.

Blue flags are waved to signal the backmarkers to move out of the way when other cars, ahead in the race, need to get passed. For Latifi, that was Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly.

Lewis Hamilton was putting pressure on Gasly as the two battled for fourth place. Multiple blue flags were waved for Latifi to yield and let them pass, but he didn’t. The stewards then investigated Latifi’s actions and came to the conclusion that he breached the FIA’s International Sporting Code.

Appendix H, Article 2.5.5 E of the Sporting Code states that a driver “must allow the following car to pass at the earliest opportunity” when receiving blue flags. The stewards’ investigation showed that Latifi violated theses rules after ignoring 12 blue flag light panels.

As a result, he was given a five-second time penalty. However, because he was already running in last, it didn’t impact the finishing order of the race. The stewards confirmed that:

“Car six was shown the blue flag on multiple occasions. The blue lights were displayed for 12 panels, between turn seven and finish line, prior to car 10 being able to pass.”

Latifi’s Justification

After the race, Latifi spoke to the media explaining why he hadn’t let Gasly by. He has also said that when speaking to Gasly, the Frenchman understands why Latifi did what he did.

“I just basically wanted to give him the DRS, because if I let him by a few corners before then he was going to have no DRS and he was going to get penalised from Hamilton catching him through that dirty air up before.

“So I said ‘okay let me at least give him the DRS and try and negate whatever I held him up and he agreed. He said ‘yeah you did the right thing’.”

Pierre Gasly and Lewis Hamilton in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Bryn Lennon – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
Latifi’s future in F1

2022 has not been Latifi’s season. He is the only driver that hasn’t run in the points in any race so far and he has four penalty points on his super licence.

Now, there are rumours that he could be let go by Williams Racing mid-season. Oscar Piastri, the Alpine reserve driver, has been linked to taking Latifi’s seat after the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. This would mean that Latifi will still race at his home race this weekend in Montreal.

The Canadian Grand Prix is this weekend, June 17th-19th.

Feature Image Credit: GettyImages

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