Round 8 Feature Race Press Conference

Round 8 Feature Race Press Conference

Leclerc, Markelov and Rowland discuss the race

FIA Formula 2: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference for today’s FIA Formula 2 Championship feature race here in Belgium: we’re joined today by race winner Charles Leclerc from PREMA Racing, in second place is Artem Markelov from RUSSIAN TIME, and in third is Oliver Rowland from DAMS. Charles, today was your fifth feature race win, and your sixth overall, with the biggest margin of victory for the year: how did it feel out there?

Charles Leclerc: It felt very good! We had a not amazing start, quite a bit of wheel spin: we couldn’t practice the start and I think I did something wrong with the start. But after that we were very quick, on the option tyres I felt quite good, and we could stay on the tyres quite long which helped us on the second stint. On the prime tyres I think we were very, very good: when we left the pits they were telling me “you’re two seconds faster than everybody” and I said “can you repeat please?” because I thought maybe I had misheard them! The car was amazing all the race, and I need to thank PREMA for the amazing car: we now need to work more and try to get the best out of the race tomorrow.

FIA Formula 2: There was a bit of contact between you and Oliver at the start: were you aware of it, and did you worry you at all?

Charles: I had no idea! He just told me 2 seconds before we came in here, but I had no idea!

FIA Formula 2: How much of a testament to the team is it that you can have so little running and still be so dominant today?

Charles: I have Antonio as a teammate, and we usually give more or less the same feedback: this helped me to win today, because he obviously gave the right feedback after free practice, and thanks to him we managed to have the right car for the race, so thanks to him also.

FIA Formula 2: Congratulations. Artem, you moved up from 9th on the grid to 2nd, but let’s start with the end: what was happening on that last lap?

Artem Markelov: It wasn’t a boring race! I tried to take some people at the start and then to keep the place to the end because I was on a different strategy to the guys at the front instead of driving on the options. We tried something different and my engineer was always talking on the radio for me to save the tyres because the game would be at the end, like it was. We were trying to do like in Bahrain in the first race of the season, trying to push and in the last laps to try and win something. I was pretty excited about the result and the finish, and thanks for everyone who supports me and to my team for a good car.

FIA Formula 2: You went wheel to wheel with Oliver into the last chicane: how difficult was that battle?

Artem: First I didn’t make the same mistake I made in the last race: when I was going to the outside at the last corner there wasn’t the place to be side by side so I decided to go outside so I didn’t crash with Rowland at the corner.

FIA Formula 2: Congratulations. Oliver, talk us through that fight from your perspective.

Oliver Rowland: Obviously we stopped too early, and I knew already after 5 laps it was going to be really difficult to finish the race because I was already starting to slide a lot, so already I was thinking I’m not going to make it to the end. The last 2 laps I had a big drop off, so on the last lap it was pretty close: I didn’t have to push the entries but I needed good exits to try and defend from him, and I think I did pretty much all I could. The last corner was one of those things: he chose the outside, I took my line and he got me, so we’ll see.

FIA Formula 2: You mentioned the tyres dropping off, but you had some front wing damage from the collision with Charles as well: did that hurt your chances at all?

Oliver: Maybe slightly because you lose some front downforce, but last year Gasly had that exact same damage as me and was the fastest by miles, so I’m not going to use that excuse! We need to improve tomorrow and try to find the pace that Charles had, because he was quite comfortable out there today and we struggled a little bit, but we’ll work hard overnight and come back tomorrow.

FIA Formula 2: Charles, with the biggest margin of the championship today, do you think that you are still improving as a driver this year?

Charles: Oh yeah, definitely. Formula 2 is such a hard category, and I’m still learning, especially on the aspect of tyres and tyre management. I try to push at the limit without destroying too much the tyres, and this is a very important aspect which helps you a lot for the future. I keep learning every race, and the team also, even though we have the best car at the moment they still try to improve a little bit every time, and I think that’s what makes us very good at the moment.

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