Round 6 post Feature Race press conference

Round 6 post Feature Race press conference

Thoughts from Leclerc, Nato and Rowland

FIA Formula 2: Welcome to the press conference following today’s feature race at Silverstone. Joining us is race winner Charles Leclerc from PREMA Racing. In second place, we have Norman Nato from Pertamina Arden and in third place we have Oliver Rowland from DAMS. Starting with you, Charles, it’s your fifth win of the season, but it wasn’t without its drama. Talk us through the race from your perspective…

Charles Leclerc: We had a good start. Then I think the first lap was really good. I managed to build a bit of a gap. We were quite fast on the option tyres. We built quite a good gap. I can’t remember if it’s on the option or on the prime that I had the problem with the smoke, but I was a little bit scared. I didn’t fully understand what happened. I was looking at the screens in the straight and I saw my car with smoke behind it. I thought it was strange. I looked in the mirrors and I thought the engine would blow up. But nothing happen. Nothing appeared on the steering wheel that would indicate that something bad was going on. After that, on the prime tyres, we were quite fast. I think in the beginning I took a bit my time to get back up to speed because we knew there would be some graining if I was pushing straight away. I knew Norman was behind me and trying to catch me. I tried to stay calm. When he reduced the gap to me, I started to push again and the car was very good. We could rebuild a good lap until the chequered flag. I was a really good race and I think it’s probably the most positive one of the season. It shows that I and the team have done a step since Bahrain. I’m very happy.

FIA Formula 2: What did the team tell you after the smoke came out of your car? Were you nervous on that second stint?

Charles: I was nervous on the moment. I think I saw it before the team did. I went on the radio and asked them if they saw on the screens that there was smoke coming out of my car. I had no answer. A lap later, I asked again and they told me that they did see but they didn’t know what was going on. We had already stopped for the prime tyres, so I just carried on.

FIA Formula 2: Congratulations. Norman, moving on to you: like in Bahrain, you started P2 and finished second, but you were on a lot of pressure from Oliver [Rowland]. Can you talk us through that pressure, especially in those closing laps?

Norman Nato:  Oliver did a pretty good race as well. Charles was too quick. I was able to catch him up after the pitstop, but like he said he was managing his tyres. For me, my job was to push and build a gap to Oliver. I think the race was good. I just damaged a bit my front tyres at the beginning of the stint as I was trying to push straight away after the pitstop. But it’s a good result for us today. We keep improving which is the most important. We will try to score some more points tomorrow.

FIA Formula 2: In that first stint were you more focused on catching up with Charles or defending for second place?

Norman: At the beginning of the race, I was able to follow Charles. I thought I should push to try and fight him for the lead. After lap 4 I think, I struggled a bit on my tyres. I had to calm down. I saw Oliver coming closer. I told myself to not be stupid: Charles was already a bit too far. I told myself to wait for the pistop, change to new tyres and see what we could do from there.

FIA Formula 2: Thank you. Oliver moving on to you: is it to fair to say that your fight with Norman hinged on the start today?

Oliver Rowland: Yeah a little bit. Obviously, I was trying to get in front at the start, but I didn’t have much grip. That was a little bit disappointed. It was a long race I thought maybe I could get closer on the option to the leaders, but I was struggling with degradation after the first couple of laps. It was a bit strange for us. When we put the hard tyres, it was quite good. I tried to manage my tyres and then come back closer to the cars I front. Unfortunately, I could not get close enough to really attack. That was a bit frustrating. That was nothing more we could do.

FIA Formula 2: On the hard tyres when you were trying to attack Norman, how difficult was it to try pick a time to push and put him under pressure?

Oliver: I could see when we first came out of the pits we had quite a decent advantage over him: I felt like we had better grip and I could see he was pushing, and maybe that was my time to push a bit more and take a bit of a risk. But you never know, you might stay out of trouble for 10 laps and take him then. So I decided not to take the risk and I finished up third.

FIA Formula 2: Charles, returning back to you. In the Sprint Race in Austria you failed to finish. Does it change your approach for tomorrow?

Charles: No. It doesn’t change anything. It was an unfortunate crash. Looking back at the images, I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault. I think I couldn’t have done much better. I will have the same approach as always tomorrow: I will try to come back as much as I can without making stupid errors and getting penalties for the next race. Obviously, I will try and take as many points as possible and hopefully end up on the podium.

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