It won’t have been how Roman Stanek envisioned his maiden Formula 2 victory, but his Melbourne Sprint Race performance merited the accolade.

Finishing second on the road and inheriting victory after Campos Racing’s Isack Hadjar received a post-race time penalty, the Trident talent earned every bit of his podium result, defending with grit and determination from several challengers behind him.

Reflecting on the race Down Under and how things unfolded from the cockpit, Stanek says it was a very tough race, but that he was extremely proud of his efforts considering the level of speed he had available during the Sprint compared to rivals.

“It was a good race, but everyone can see that we were lacking pace especially compared to the Campos car and Isack, even if after he won the race he was then penalised.

“I had quite an okay start, again the Campos both had mega starts, but then what happened, happened. Then there was a long Safety Car that also helped me, I knew that I didn't have as good pace as the Campos and the Hitech behind me throughout the race.

“So, my only option was to defend, and I think I did quite well. They even call me the Minister of Czech Defence now in Czech Republic, so it was a fun race, and I was defending for my life because I really didn't have the pace to win. I think we've achieved a good result together with the team.”

All the way from Lap 1 to the final tour on Lap 23, Stanek was resolute in his defensive display. He kept a charging Paul Aron and Kush Maini at bay, along with a feisty Andrea Kimi Antonelli before he spun out with his Trident teammate Richard Verschoor.

Stanek was under pressure from a host of rivals but kept his cool to take his first win in F2
Stanek was under pressure from a host of rivals but kept his cool to take his first win in F2

Having four cars in his mirrors trailing closely made his task of defending even tougher, but Stanek was intelligent in picking where he’d focus his efforts the most.

Albert Park is made up of 14 corners, but focusing on his exit at Turn 6, the right-hander preceding the second DRS zone around the lap was the key to success. It kept him out of arm’s reach of Aron directly behind, and despite the powerful effect DRS had across the race weekend in that section of track, Stanek remained ahead throughout.

He says it was something he decided upon very early in the race and it proved to be the pivotal factor that ultimately won him the race.

“I tried in that race to focus on myself but in the mirrors, you can see they were quick, and the DRS was very powerful on the straight after Turn 6. So, I had to play a bit of a game to defend myself in a way that I always had a good exit so they wouldn’t catch me on the straight.

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“I had to change my driving style a bit in order to always have the best exit possible to avoid them getting close on the straight. The mindset was that I had a good starting position from the beginning of the race, and I knew that I'm gonna have to defend.

“I watched it back straight after and then I watched the highlights, there were some mistakes from my side in the defending. I think I did my best Formula 2 race of my life. I managed it in the best way possible. On the pace-side, it was not so good. I didn't deserve the win on pace, but I definitely deserved the win for the defence that I showed.”

After securing a win with Trident, Stanek says his decision to stay with the team for his second F2 campaign has been vindicated and shows the combination has made progress from 2023.

Having endured a tricky start to the season in Sakhir, the Czech driver believes that, despite the double disqualification for the team in Jeddah that cost Verschoor Sprint victory, the most recent two rounds have been hugely positive.

Stanek says his approach to Turn 6 was the secret ingredient in his success at Albert Park
Stanek says his approach to Turn 6 was the secret ingredient in his success at Albert Park

The Melbourne result is followed by in-season testing and then a return to Imola, a venue that Stanek is very much looking forward to.

He was a winner there in 2022 with Trident back in Formula 3, and he ranks the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari as one of his favourites. He hopes that past results bode well for the upcoming Round 4 this time around.

“I re-signed with Trident because I really trust the team. We have a good group of people. We changed a lot from the past year, and we definitely were missing a lot in Bahrain, but then in Jeddah and in Melbourne we had stronger pace.

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“This Qualifying pace overall is much better, even though at least for myself, I still didn't show it on paper, but I can say that is much better. Imola is a track that I love because I’ve won there in every category from Euroformula to F3. So going back there after it was cancelled last year is exciting.

“It’s a great track for me, one of my favourite tracks in Europe, it’s a very nice track and they already have the philosophy of how the car should feel on that circuit and how to make the car and my driving work in the best way possible.

“The win is obviously satisfying, but I have the confidence because I know now that we have the package to qualify on the front few rows. That's boosting my confidence, the team's confidence so we just have to prove it and then we’ll be fine.”