FIA Formula 2: Welcome to the press conference with the top three finishers in today's FIA Formula 2 Sprint Race here at Yas Marina. We are joined by race winner Luca Ghiotto for UNI-Virtuosi Racing, in second place is Nicholas Latifi for DAMS and third is Sergio Sette Câmara also for DAMS. Luca, the perfect way to end the season with victory. It looked like you were in a league of your own today.
Luca Ghiotto: I knew that the car was good because even yesterday with the poor start and brake issues that we had, we literally destroyed the first set of tyres locking up everywhere... We still finished sixth. I was surprised by that, so I knew the car was quick if we had a clean race. I feel that the key point for me was to have a good start. I got past Nicholas straight away and I tried to not over-push as much as Giuliano Alesi was doing at the beginning. I think that the first two or three laps was where we won the race because these tyres are really, as we all know now after many years laughs, quite tough to manage. Sometimes the first laps are really where you can make the difference for the end of the race. Today feels like it was like that and I'm really happy to win the last race for me in F2.
FIA Formula 2: You finished the season third overall in the Drivers' Championship, and with four wins to your name. Are you satisfied with the year that you've had?
Luca: No. Not at all. We had so many issues this year. We've been disqualified in Monaco for a stupid thing that could have easily been solved. So many zeros during the year... I think all three of us had many troubles compared to Nyck de Vries. We all could have had the chance to fight him had we had as clean a season as he had. That's probably the reason why I'm not so happy. I've not been able to be consistent enough, either because of my mistakes or other unlucky things. Of course, I'm happy to finish the season with a win but it could have been much better.
Of course, I'm happy to finish the season with a win but it could have been much better.
FIA Formula 2: Congratulations on the win today. Nicholas moving on to you. After the start, when you lost a position, you looked like you paced it well but was Luca just too strong today?
Nicholas Latifi: I think overall, he definitely had the edge. I agree with what he said. I think those first two or three laps defined the race. I was sandwiched between him and Callum Ilott, so I was forced to be in Luca's dirty air, pushing a bit harder than I wanted to just to try and maintain the position. I let them both go a bit. Obviously, Giuliano Alesi was pushing quite hard and then at some stage Luca started to follow. Coming into this race the target was quite clear. I had all the possible scenarios worked out in my head about how if they finished in certain positions, where did I need to be. Also, in the back of my mind was the fastest lap, because in the Sprint Race it's pretty much an extra position. I think very early own if someone was going to set the fastest lap it was going to be within the first four or five laps. Luca had it, and at that stage you're not sure how the race is going to end - you never know, someone could come flying from the back - and I thought, "if Luca wins this race and gets the fastest lap it could become a bit close!" I started cooling down the tyres for two laps, left a big gap and pushed for it to at least secure that. Overall in the race pace that probably didn't help. I was able to maintain my position at least so that was good because that's what I needed to do. I was just cruising not taking any risks, praying that the car holds together because it was my P2 in the championship to lose let's say. They had to catch me, but you never know what could happen in motorsport. There are so many things not in your control. In the end, a bit like Luca said, I was a bit disappointed with the consistency in the season. On any given round I think with the exception of Paul Ricard, the pace was there to challenge for podiums and wins but for one reason or another, sometimes a mistake from me or bad luck - I got taken out in two Feature Races... Laughs We all know what happens when you have a bad Feature Race in Formula 2. I'm disappointed to have lost out in the championship but obviously extremely happy to have secured the next best thing, and more importantly the Teams' Championship this weekend, which was in the back of my mind knowing that I'm going to be leaving DAMS this year. I spent four years with them. In any kind of relationship four years is a long time, especially in racing where everyone is so close and tight-knit. To be able to reward them with the Teams' Championship in my final year with them as well... It was a difficult mid-season for everyone with the passing of our team boss. I wish he could have been here to celebrate with us, but in the end I'm very happy with how the last round went.
FIA Formula 2: We saw how emotional you got in parc fermé after that race. Just how has Formula 2 and DAMS set you up for the next stage in your career, stepping up to Williams next season?
Nicholas: Yeah Formula 2, and obviously my first year in GP2, same thing, has been a very important part of my career. It's where I've learned the most about myself as a driver but also about myself as a human being. I've been through all the highs and lows that come with motorsport. I've had to dig myself out of some very difficult situations... Most notably last year. The season I had in 2017 was obviously a very strong one, and then when you have a season like 2018 you really start to question yourself. Especially when I was with a teammate who was performing well. But I managed to get on top of it at the end of the season and obviously this year the goals were quite clear. DAMS have been so amazing from the first year. Jean-Paul Driot took a big risk on me in 2016 when I first joined them. I was coming in as a rookie and a driver, that I can say with confidence, had proven nothing in motorsport. I'd had flashes of performance here and there but to go with a top team like DAMS, they took a big risk on me and it was not smooth sailing. They worked so hard. Sergio can attest to that. All my previous teammates can attest to that. Some of them are the most dedicated guys I've ever worked with. It's going to be really hard I think saying goodbye. Coming into this weekend I knew there was going to be a lot of extra emotions from the F1 announcement, but honestly that wasn't even a worry for me about being a distraction. It was more knowing that this was going to be my last weekend with DAMS. I'm happy to have ended with the next best possible thing and I just can't thank them enough.
I've had to dig myself out of some very difficult situations... Most notably last year.
FIA Formula 2: Lovely words and good luck next season. Sergio, moving on to you. I'm sure you'll want to praise the team but from a personal point of view, with pole, victory and third place today, that's your strongest weekend of the season. What do you put that down to?
Sergio Sette Câmara: I don't know. Laughs It's simply like that. It's a bit of a mystery. I think it's a bit of a shame really because sometimes you don't know why it's quick or not. To be honest I'm a bit disappointed. I don't know. Of course, I prefer it when a weekend goes this well, but on the other hand it makes me feel bad. As soon as I crossed the finish line today I was happy for one second and then I was sad because I thought, "how come now it's good but it's not been like that all year." It's very weird. It's motorsport. It makes me upset but it's like that. If you want to be happy all the time, then you have to do another sport laughs.
FIA Formula 2: Well one thing you did provide was plenty of action today, climbing through from eighth place with lots of overtaking. Do you feel you had the quickest car?
Sergio: I don't know it's hard to judge. I mean I'm just driving my car. Maybe I was in tune with it. There are always differences, sometimes big ones, even with it being a one manufacturer championship because teams can work a lot and there are still some things that people don't understand completely. It's tough to know exactly where we are but I'm sure that my car was, if not the best, then one of the best out there. I was in sync with it this weekend apparently which I didn't expect. In winter testing here I was not quick. I was expecting it to be one of the worst weekends of the season. It's hard to explain, but I have to thank the guys for a good car. I challenged Nyck de Vries, Nicholas and Luca for the top spots in the championship, which I didn't really... I mean, I wanted it deep inside. I thought, "okay, let's go to Abu Dhabi and take 48 points!" Laughs But I've thought something similar at a lot of weekends this year and it doesn't happen. It's not quick or whatever. This weekend it's been happening. It's a good way to finish the season, maybe a bit too late, but at least it was there.
As soon as I crossed the finish line today I was happy for one second and then I was sad because I thought, "how come now it's good but it's not been like that all year."
FIA Formula 2: Congratulations and well done this weekend. Luca, returning to you. As you said it's your last weekend in Formula 2 as well before you move on to other series. Just reflect on your time in the championship and what it's given you for your career.
Luca: It's been a long journey. If I can also count the GP3 years it's been five years around this paddock. It's been a really long time. I think these five years have really shaped me as the racing driver I am now. My first year in GP3 I can still easily say was my best year out of all five. The four years in F2 have been really tough, always there waiting for opportunities coming to me other than finding opportunities myself... Always changing teams every year. It's not been easy but at the end of the day we've always been there fighting. If we've never won a race in a year then I was close to. I think last year was the only one I didn't win in. The pace was always there - maybe some years were 'more up' and other years 'more down'. This year has been the best year in F2. As I said before, I still think that many things have not gone the way I wanted. If I think that after the first race I was leading the championship, then for sure I'm not happy now to be third. Still, we did a good job but I think I still need to learn. You never stop learning. I think even if you asked Lewis Hamilton if he's learned everything about motorsport, he'd probably say no even though he's won six world championships in F1. There are always things to learn. A big part of motorsport, of racing, and everything, I learned it from F2 and GP3.