With the dust settled at the end of another enthralling FIA Formula 2 race weekend at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, we take a look at five talking points from Round 2.
Robert Shwartzman was the primary talking point of Formula 3 last season and it hasn’t taken the young Russian long to make himself known in F2 either. The PREMA racer has already managed a feat no rookie did last season, by winning a Feature Race.
He did it in style too. Wet conditions nearly called racing off on Saturday, but we’re mighty thankful they didn’t as the resulting action was breath-taking. Starting from sixth, few would have had Shwartzman down to take the win, but a mixture of pace and strategy earned him a maiden victory.
Wearing the wet weather boots, teams pitted at a plethora of different times throughout the afternoon, some too early, some too late, but PREMA made their change at the perfect time. Shwartzman didn’t lose any places after his stop, and was left with fresh tyres for the final laps.
EXPERIENCE IS NO OBSTACLE
Christian Lundgaard may have had the benefit of running in the final round of 2019 at Abu Dhabi with Trident, but the Dane missed all three days of pre-season testing Bahrain. With the switch to 18-inch tyres this season, this felt like a pretty crucial missed opportunity for the rookie.
You’d have had no idea though. Lundgaard is yet to finish lower than P6 and was dominant in the Sprint Race on Sunday. His getaway off the line was textbook, firing ahead of teammate Marcus Armstrong, and he then forcing himself ahead of Dan Ticktum on the next lap.
The pressure certainly didn’t get to him from there, leading all the way to the chequered flag and making it look easy in the process.
A CONSISTENT START
Speaking of Ticktum, he may not have been able to beat Lundgaard on the Sunday, but his start to the season has been consistent and impressive in its own right.
The Briton has four points finishes and two podiums from the two rounds so far, and sits fourth in the standings. Taking over from now-Formula 1 driver Nicholas Latifi in the DAMS machine was always going to be a tough ask, but he’s taken to it pretty sweetly so far and is well within the title hunt.
PUTTING THINGS INTO PERSPECTIVE
The term ‘heartbreak’ was banded around pretty frequently in reaction to Yuki Tsunoda’s Feature Race finish, but this downplays the Carlin racer’s success so far in F2. Yes, a team radio issue may have cost him his first win, but a look at the weekend as a whole better displays just how strong he was.
For the second week in a row, Tsunoda finished first in Free Practice, but this time around he was able to convert it to pole in qualifying. A serious achievement.
Arguably, it was his temperament which impressed the most. He displayed outstanding maturity on Saturday to overcome the frustration of his pit stop, which was not only late, but also a little slow.
Returning in fifth with just a few laps remaining, you’d have been forgiven for thinking that his race was over, but this couldn’t have been further from the reality. Three overtakes quickly followed, and it was only the impeccable driving of Shwartzman which stopped him from reclaiming first on the final lap.
TITLE RACE WIDE OPEN
When we told you that the Formula 2 grid was stacked with talent this year, we meant it. For the first time, F2 has seen four brand new winners from the opening four races of a season, and what’s more, three of them have been rookies.
In fact, Sunday’s Sprint Race podium was the youngest in the history of the Championship, with rookie trio Christian Lundgaard, Dan Ticktum and Marcus Armstrong making up an average age of just 20.
No one has taken the Championship by the scruff of the neck so far, and there is little indication of who will eventually be the main challengers this season.