Thoughts from Vips, Piastri and Shwartzman
FIA Formula 2: Many congratulations to the top three finishers of the Formula 2 Feature Race here in Baku, in third place Robert Shwartzman for PREMA Racing, in second place Oscar Piastri also for PREMA, and winning his second consecutive race of the weekend our winner, Jüri Vips for Hitech Grand Prix. Jüri what a tremendous couple of days for you, two wins in three races. How do you reflect on your weekend here in Baku?
Jüri Vips: For sure it's been a great weekend, I'm a perfectionist so I wouldn't say it's perfect because we were second in Quali and I think I made some mistakes in Sprint Race 1 but honestly it was a massive, massive step forward. I think the race pace has been good all year and it was there same here, but at the first two rounds we didn't really capitalise on the opportunities we've had, and we haven't really maximised the points. This weekend we really did it, and I hope it's a good momentum that I can carry into the next round.
FIA Formula 2: Maybe it is a good omen, let's talk about various points in the race you did the job at the start. How good was your launch?
Vips: It was good, but I don't think it was a mega start. It was good enough. I thought I would struggle because normally my side is less grippy, but it was good.
FIA Formula 2: Any dramas at the restart after the Safety Car?
Vips: No, not at all. Just a moment, well two moments. I had one at the Castle, clearing the back markers I nearly put it in the wall there, and I had a bit of a moment into Turn 1 but otherwise it was just perfect.
FIA Formula 2: You main rivals for victory today got penalties, did that effect how you drove the remainder of your race because it happened quite early on?
Vips: A little bit, after I heard that Piastri had a penalty, for sure I took it a little bit easier. At one point when I saw I was getting a little too relaxed I had six or seven tenths margin and I pulled it back, it was fun.
FIA Formula 2: And from a Championship perspective you're now 4th, do you feel it's game on?
Vips: For sure, it's quite crazy to think that because I think in Bahrain, we could have been very high up in the Championship if it was a normal weekend for us, but everything went wrong and we scored zero. To be fourth in the Championship this early on I really didn't expect, especially because I don't think Monaco really went to plan either so yes, it's very positive.
FIA Formula 2: Well done Jüri. Many congratulations to you too Oscar, a great result with P2 and with the penalty how pleased are you to come away with second place?
Oscar Piastri: I think second place is a great result, I didn't quite have the pace to get Jüri today, but I think I can count my lucky stars today with no safety car after the penalty. It was my mistake on the pit exit, I was just a bit too keen to get away. Thankfully, there wasn't a safety car to make that penalty an actual penalty.
FIA Formula 2: Can you walk us through that moment in the pit lane. Who decides when you leave, was it you or was it the team?
Piastri: The team decides when I leave, but I was too excited to get out of the pit box and went while the light was still red. It was the first time where I've had that sort of situation where I've had to wait for someone in the pitlane and I just wasn't thinking about it. Normally the only reason the light wouldn't turn green is if a wheel was still getting put on, but all four wheels were on and I was on the ground, so it was just a mistake on my part. Thankfully, it wasn't worse, and thankfully there wasn't a safety car so the penalty didn't make much difference in the end.
FIA Formula 2: We saw some great wheel to wheel action with you, particularly in early in the race with Liam Lawson, how much did you enjoy those battles?
Piastri: Liam and I have had quite a lot of battles in the last two years, and we've had contact probably half of those times and it's always aggressive, but today the racing was really clean. I made a good move to get him at the start and he made a good move to get me back after the safety car. I wasn't actually sure why he came out so far behind, but then realised he had a penalty. Racing Liam is always hard, you know he's never going to give you any extra inches, but I think today from the outside looked pretty entertaining.
FIA Formula 2: You made a big jump in the Championship as well, do you think the momentum is building?
Piastri: Yes, I think we've been strong in terms of pace from the beginning, and I think we've just been getting stronger. I think Bahrain our race pace was very strong, we just struggled a bit in Quali and then Monaco I had a very strong weekend. Then here I feel a victim of the reserve grid in Sprint Race 1 and it made my Saturday very hard. Not having that Sprint Race 1 experience meant the first half of the race today I was learning where to brake when you have five cars ahead of you with a slip stream and DRS. There are a lot of variables, and I was paying for that lack of experience but I think our pace has been strong and it’s been another good weekend with things we can control.
FIA Formula: Onto another man who has had a good day at the office, you started 10th, finished third?
Robert Shwartzman: I think the race itself was very interesting, very nice. The start was quite alright, but I took it easy at the beginning, I didn't want to take the risk. I actually lost one position to Felipe, and then I regained it. After that I just tried to overtake as many cars as possible, I think there were some nice moves nice battles, and I got through the field. In the beginning there was the safety car and then on there was nobody else, so I had to overtake everyone by myself. I made up a few places on the option set, then we to pit one lap later than the guys in front so we didn't lose time, but to be honest I already lost a bit on that lap because my rears were already gone. So, we pitted, and the pit itself was quite good, but when we went out they had already warmed up the tyres. Jüri and Oscar got past us and I was behind Boschung. After that I was P4 and my target was to get Boschung as quick as possible. On the next lap I got past him into P3 and the guys in front had really strong pace. I was more or less with them, maybe a bit slower, and when I realised the gap was quite big, I decided to take it easy with the tyres in case of a safety car. If I had pushed really hard I might have been a tenth or two quicker than them, but there was no point risking that much. I'm happy with P3, we got some decent points this weekend, the win, P3 and P5. That's what I needed to be honest, because Bahrain didn't got at all to plan with the results I had too many issues even though the pace was strong. Here we finally got to put it a bit more into results and that's now the target to keep working on.
FIA Formula 2: As you say, a great haul of points this week. How much encouragement does that give you looking at the season as a whole?
Shwartzman: I know we're competitive, we're strong, we're quick it’s just important for us to think a bit better about the race management because in Monaco Race 1 was a bit too nervous, I made a mistake, and I broke a front wing then I got a DNF. So basically, I completely compromised the first two races with the points. Then in the Feature Race I was close to Théo then I had the issue in the pitstop which compromised P2. It's just the experience to be a bit more patient maybe, which is what I did in this race weekend. I just tried to be a bit more patient, a bit calmer and as soon as there is a clear opportunity use it. That's what we did and that's the difference on the results.
FIA Formula 2: Well done to all three of you.