Thoughts from Ticktum, Vips and Shwartzman
FIA Formula 2: Congratulations to the top three finishers of Sprint Race 1 of the FIA Formula 2 Championship here at the Sochi Autodrom. In third place, Robert Shwartzman for PREMA Racing, in second place Jüri Vips for Hitech Grand Prix and taking his third victory in FIA Formula 2, Dan Ticktum for Carlin. Well done Dan, you drove a flawless race, in very tricky conditions. How sweet is this one?
Dan Ticktum: The more I think about it, I'm pretty happy that I didn't put a foot wrong. It was not easy, it was a lot about car control. Especially with the VSCs when the tyres go off a bit and then you don't know how much to push again, it requires a lot of 'feel'. If you do make a mistake you're either going off and losing a few positions or you're in the wall, we saw people crash on the way to the pitlane. I'm sure they weren't trying to do anything, there was just no grip at all. It's sweet there's no doubt about that, every racing driver in every category wants to win. However, to point back to what I said in Monza, while it's nice to win on the day, it doesn't mean that much because I don't know where I'm going to be next year. I'm certainly not going to be in Formula One, which was always my goal. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I'm pretty down about it, I'm not going to lie. I've worked very hard, I've made a lot of mistakes, and people know what they are. I'm happy to win but it's a bit bittersweet.
FIA Formula 2: All you can do is keep winning Dan. About this race, it's a long run down to the first braking zone. Was it a bit of a relief to have a rolling start rather than a standing start?
Ticktum: I think I could have controlled a standing start pretty well because my clutch control is pretty good. My race starts haven't been that great this year, but it's very different in these conditions, it's just about how smoothly you can pull away and control the wheel spin. I was on the right side of the grid as well, the dry side. So yes, it's a bit more fifty-fifty what could have happened but I think I could have controlled that as well. I was pretty slow at the start, Jüri was all over my gearbox, but you're the lead car and you're giving the guys behind the references so it's impossible to know how much to push. Once I'd had a lap and half, two laps, of calibrating I then started to pull away. But a rolling start was probably helpful overall.
FIA Formula 2: Tell us a little bit more about the pressure from Jüri, could you let up at all through that race or were you flat out the whole time?
Ticktum: There was a period after the second VSC where I pulled away a bit and the gap was up to high 2.7 or 2.8 I think. I was being told that on the radio and I thought maybe I could not push quite as much as a mistake was going to be very costly. You look in your mirrors and you have references of where the car is and I could see he was catching a few laps after that VSC so I had to then push a little bit harder again. There were probably two laps where I was slightly calm, but the rest of it I was pretty flat out.
FIA Formula 2: Great job Dan, well done. Jüri coming to you, many congratulations, your first podium since Silverstone, tell us about the conditions. How tough was it, how much of an advantage was it having Dan in front of you for a reference point?
Jüri Vips: It was an interesting race, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I am sad to lose the victory, because Dan didn't put a foot wrong, but maybe if I put a bit more pressure on him he could have made a mistake. He didn't and he deserves the win. On the other hand, I'm happy just because I finished the race. I was just pushing 100% every lap, and to be honest on Lap 1 I didn't see where he was braking or what he was doing, I was just reacting because I was right behind him. There was literally just one dry line, so you couldn't really do anything. To be honest, even if I caught him I don't know if I could have overtaken him in the end. Maybe into Turn 1, there was just enough space for two cars on a dry line, but nowhere else really. It was still pretty wet. I gave it 100% and was pushing every lap. I went off four or five times at least and every time you go off you lose a second or two at least. So that's what cost us today.
FIA Formula 2: Can I ask you a bit more about that dry line? How much wider did it get as the race progressed?
Vips: It went wider, but it didn't. At the beginning of the race in some places, there wasn't a dry line for the whole car. There was literally a dry line for the outside tyres, so you'd be super unstable entering on the wet but you'd just lean on the outside tyres. By the end of the race, you could be on a dry race track with four wheels but if you went off anywhere it was done.
FIA Formula 2: What about the end of the VSC period, did Dan give you any opportunity there to close the gap.
Vips: No, to be honest, what we seemed to struggle with was the VSC restarts. Dan seemed to keep the temperature in the tyres better than us. I really tried to keep up with him, but I think when Liam went off we went off simultaneously in the same corner, because I saw his car parked near the exit of Turn 16 and on the VSC restart I had a big moment there as well. It was very tricky, I was trying to keep up with him, but especially one the VSC restarts he was very good at keeping the tyres warm.
FIA Formula 2: Well done Jüri, thank you. Robert coming to you now. First up, how good was it to be back on the podium here in Sochi, your home race?
Robert Shwartzman: It reminds me a lot of 2019 to be honest, the atmosphere was great, there were so many fans. To be honest I didn't really expect that I would have so much support from them. It was something really unbelievable. Even when I was on the grid, and they showed me on the starting grid and the grandstands started screaming and standing up I was like, wow, this is impressive. I was really glad, but I was also like there's a little bit of pressure here, so many people are watching I need to do a really good race and focus now. Then I was hoping for a rolling start because Jüri and I were on the wet side of the grid and I was pretty sure that it would be quite hard to take off. In the end, it was good for us that we did the rolling start. After that, it was tricky for the first laps because you don't know how much you can actually push and where you need to brake. Slowly we started to pick up the pace, we made a few mistakes which made my life a bit harder and a bit more nervous. Jake got past me at some point but I straight away got it back. I was trying to catch Jüri, but it was so easy to make a mistake. At some point, I was trying to push for the fastest lap and I braked a little bit later caught a wet patch and completely lost the car on the entry so it was really tricky. It was a challenging and tough race but it's good points, its a podium and I'm really happy to see the fans.
FIA Formula: Thank you, Robert.