Formula 2: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the first Formula 2 press conference for today’s feature race here in Bahrain: joining us are race winner Artem Markelov from RUSSIAN TIME, in second place is Norman Nato from Pertamina Arden, and in third place we have Charles Leclerc from PREMA Racing. Artem, congratulations on a fine win which turned in part on a later pitstop, where you had to be patient and wait for the race to come back to you. How does it feel?
Artem Markelov: Yeah, the engineer was always saying to me that I had to be patient and it will come to me at the end, and it was a really nice strategy to win the race! I have to say thanks to my engineer and my team for this great result.
Formula 2: Tell us about the tyre strategy management process: you could run longer and had better pace and grip at the end.
Artem: I learned a lot from last year about managing the tyres, and that was what really helped me here in this first race: hopefully we can win the next race as well!
Formula 2: The other big part of the win was your start, where you jumped from 7th on the grid to 3rd: tell us about that.
Artem: That was actually a nice boost for the whole race!
Formula 2: Congratulations. Coming to you Norman, you had a great battle with Charles early on, and stopped early: how was the race from your seat?
Norman Nato: It was a good race for us. I was trying to put pressure on Charles at the beginning of the race, and the pace was good but I couldn’t put a gap on Charles so I decided to back off a bit because I knew it would be difficult to get to the end of the stint. Charles started to push and so I didn’t fight with him and Artem just to be quicker on the primes, and then we decided to pit early which worked well, and we were really good on the options. I saw that Charles was starting to struggle with tyres, and then I was too and Artem was just too quick today: I have to say congratulations to them today, and I hope we can do a good race tomorrow.
Formula 2: You had a big physical challenge today, with the race starting at 44˚ on track: how was that in the race, and how are you now?
Norman: When you’re in car you’re focused, so physically it was okay. We had 4 months to train, so to be honest it’s okay: of course it’s really warm in the car, really hot, but to be honest it was okay.
Formula 2: Charles, congratulations on your podium today. It was an up and down race for you from our perspective, but how did it seem for you?
Charles Leclerc: I had a start which was okay: I didn’t expect to stay in the lead, but it was okay and on the prime tyres we were quite competitive, Norman was maybe a little quicker at the beginning and passed us, but I could stay in the DRS zone and was quite comfortable there. Later I passed him and pulled a little bit of a gap, but then the tyres dropped quite quickly and we struggled a bit. I pitted, and it was 3 laps earlier than Artem, and Norman passed me and it was quite hard to stay with him: I wanted to stay calm because our experience at the test was not the best for race runs, in fact we didn’t finish one race run without going up 10 seconds by half time, I think! After they told me Artem was 8 seconds behind you with 4 laps to go, and I thought okay, he’s never going to catch up [laughs], and then on the next lap he was 3 seconds and I though uh oh! [laughs] I couldn’t put anything more into my car, my tyres were finished: I think the car was really good, I preferred it on prime than on option, but I just didn’t manage the tyres well on the second stint, but I will learn from it and go from there.
Formula 2: The others have raced here before and you haven’t: was it experience that made the difference here today?
Charles: Experience helps, but I just need to learn quick to be at their level, as quickly as possible.
Formula 2: And back to you Artem, it’s a great start to the season: what are your thoughts for the coming battle?
Artem: There are pretty tough guys all around here, and I’m trying to push them: it’s a great result here but there is a lot to go, so I wish them all luck and I look forward to it!