‘It’s not about how you start it’s about how you finish’ epitomises the rollercoaster Frederik Vesti found himself on in the Feature Race on Sunday. Off the back of his maiden Formula 2 victory in Saturday's Sprint Race, the ART Grand Prix car’s promising pace and a P9 slot on the grid looked set to put him squarely in the hunt for points and a glimpse at a potential podium if events went his way.
However, his hopes were soon shattered when the five lights went out. The cars that lined up behind him swiftly passed by, as Vesti stalled on the grid and had to be pushed back into the pit lane. Fortunately, the Dane was able to get going again, but had a mountain to climb to carve his way through from the back of the pack all the way up to P7.
Taking the positives from a race of survival, Vesti says he’s satisfied with the result after his dramatic start but is frustrated he wasn’t able to capitalise on his full potential around the Baku City Circuit.
“First of all, it was really annoying to stall,” he remarked. “It’s not a good thing for safety, it’s not a nice thing to be sitting still on the grid when 10 cars are going left and right past you.
“But on the other hand, it was actually a very good race. The car was really strong like it’s been all weekend, I felt confident, I made some good moves and I think we did a pretty decent job to finish P7 coming from P20.
“It’s lost points, it’s lost opportunities, especially with the pace and confidence I have in the car right now. Of course, I wanted to bring that into the Feature Race and probably if I’d done a good race, I would’ve been on the podium. Looking at (Logan) Sargeant and (Felipe) Drugovich, who got on the podium, I think we definitely would have been able to fight with these guys. It’s part of the learning process, there’s always learning to do and I’m just looking forward to going to Silverstone now.”
Putting himself in the right mindset to push forward was crucial to his recovery. Rather than dwelling on what he had lost, Vesti reset his focus and adopted a level-headed approach which paid off in the end.
“To be honest, I was very calm. I knew it was pretty much over and I was just very happy to get the chance to restart and re-join. There was a Safety Car, I was actually pretty lucky in that sense and I got back into the race.
“I knew I had many cars to overtake and a lot of action would take place in the next 28 laps so I just stayed calm because when you are confident with the car it’s a bit easier to do so.”
Adapting to ever-changing circumstances proved to be another key part of Vesti’s quest and the ART driver believes that given the number of incidents around him – particularly Cem Bölükbasi and Roy Nissany’s collision on Lap 12, he managed to make the best of a tricky situation.
“I struggle to remember all of them actually! At the beginning of the race, I had some really good overtakes because I knew had to be really aggressive, I was on the option tyre. Throughout the race, there were many overtakes and I enjoyed all of them.
“I knew it was possible to finish quite high because we did a good job overtaking some people at the pit stops, they crashed behind me right after I got out. A lot of action happened that didn’t particularly go our way, but we just reacted well. A lot of people made mistakes, we knew that would happen here in Baku and to finish P7 is pretty much the maximum we could have done today with everything in consideration.”
As he looks to build momentum from this weekend, Vesti is thrilled to be heading to one of his favourite tracks and adopted home race for Round 7 in a fortnight’s time – Silverstone. The iconic circuit will present drivers with a very different challenge to the two previous street circuits, but Vesti is ready for the challenge.
“Now I live in the UK, it’s half a home track because I just moved there. I’m looking forward to driving at Silverstone, it’s a fun, high-speed track.”