FIA Formula 2: Hello and welcome to the press conference following today’s FIA Formula 2 Championship feature race in Sochi. Joining us are race winner Alexander Albon for DAMS, Nicholas Latifi, also for DAMS, and Nyck de Vries for PERTAMINA PREMA Theodore Racing. Alex, it’s your fourth win of the season – what was the key to it today?

Alexander Albon: Yeah, it was another race where it was won on pitstops – a little bit like Silverstone, even in Monza to some degree. There seemed to be quite a lot of deg on the supersofts, so everyone went into the pits on the same lap. At that point, normally, with our position in the pitstop being the first cars to come into the pits, it normally hinders us a bit. But there was a gap for me to escape, and the guys did a really good job. I got out ahead of Nyck, and after that it was more or less just about saving – because I could see Nyck came quickly and thought “oh here we go”, but then he backed off and it gave me breathing room. I knew as long as I just had him behind, I’d be okay. I saw Markelov on the alternate strategy, but I knew I could do the same laps, even managing the tyres. It was a bit of a surprise to be honest, because qualifying wasn’t even that strong for me, and we made a couple of changes which really helped me and gave me confidence in the car. It was apparent straight away on the first lap, and it gave me confidence to win the race.

FIA Formula 2: How difficult is it to judge the pace like that going into the race, when you know you’ve got to manage the one set of tyres?

Alexander: It’s one of those races where you have one eye on the road and one eye – or ear, rather – listening to the engineers. It’s all about gap management. Obviously there’s some corners that are really high energy and you save as much as you can while keeping a pretty consistent laptime. The bit that got scary was when we started to arrive at the guys on the prime-option, and the pace really dropped off when I closed up to them. That’s the point where the engineers were telling me that Markelov was quicker than me, and you’re like “yes, okay, I know”, so you have to rush through them more quickly than you’d like to. When I got to the clean air, I only had about six or seven laps of it because everyone’s trying to stretch the stint out for so long. But yeah, in the end it worked out.

FIA Formula 2: Nicholas, moving on to you – a DAMS 1-2 today, but I can sense you’re not delighted with second. Where do you think the chance for the win disappeared from you today?

Nicholas Latifi: Yeah, for me it was all really off the start – I think it was clear that the inside was really dusty, I even saw it on the formation lap with Lando kicking up quite a bit of dust. It’s a part of the track that never gets driven on, so yeah, just got quite a bit of wheelspin although I managed it better than Lando and got by him, but it seemed everyone on the left side was able to go by quite easy. Being on the same strategy as Alex, we were probably the only two teammates who started closely to each other, and we knew that the supersoft would pretty much be a dash straight to the pitlane. It’s not as bad as it was in Monza with degradation, but him being in front he had priority – that’s normal – and so I had the extra lap and you lose so much time. In Monza, I lost about six seconds but here, it might have been even more – I saw him when he entered the pit, and I think he had the whole straight on me when I exited, so that’s not a nice feeling – when everyone you’ve passed have a massive gap over you. But the pace of the car was really good, clearly, so yeah I saw quite early on that I had more pace over George and then Nyck started to come into my view. It was quite fun going through the traffic, although it was difficult – I think I could have got by George a lot sooner if it wasn’t for that. I knew I’d fight for P2, so I just tried to do everything I could to have that. I’m really pleased for a good team result, a big thanks to them, they’ve been working really hard and the past few rounds have been my strongest, so I’m pleased for the upturn in form.

FIA Formula 2: You mentioned chasing down George and Nyck – did you feel comfortable that you’d take second, or did you think it’d be a tougher battle?

Nicholas: With George, I was pretty confident I’d go by. With Nyck, once I’d got by George I kinda had to see a bit. He had a big lockup into turn 12, I was catching him by that point but that lockup really sealed the deal for me because I got right up to him. It was easy just to drive by, but I think we had the pace advantage anyway – just it might have taken one or two more laps.

FIA Formula 2: Nyck, coming to you – starting from pole, finishing third is never ideal. Where do you think it got away from you today?

Nyck de Vries: The pitstop was one part of it; we got away well and had a decent first stint, although perhaps a few guys behind us were quicker. We were virtually leading when we came in, but unfortunately our pitstop took longer and I lost a place to Alex there. I really tried to push a bit and attack and see if we had enough margin to overtake him, but it was apparent that we didn’t so I backed off and tried to manage for the majority of the race. Going through traffic, we didn’t really have the pace that Alex and Nicholas had, and towards the end I locked up going into turn 13 with three laps to go, and that was a big, big flat spot so I was just praying for the end! It was almost undriveable. I thought we finished P4, but even though it’s actually P3 I can’t really smile today.

FIA Formula 2: You had some issues with traffic – there was an incident with Maini. Could you talk us through what happened there?

Nyck de Vries: Yeah, that almost was the end of our race. I was behind with DRS and went to the inside of turn 12, and I was on the clean line. The visibility was poor and the sun was low in his mirrors so he probably didn’t see me, and we nearly went into the wall! Luckily I didn’t have any damage, and he had a puncture.

FIA Formula 2: Alexander, returning to you – you’re now 2nd in the championship with Lando not scoring. Can you catch George?

Alexander: We’ll always give it our best, it’s not easy though. But when George has a bad weekend, he’s still always top five so that’s not ideal. Of course, we’ll give it a go, as we saw today we had really good pace and this track suits us – especially in the races, so I’m looking forward to try and overtake him in Race 2.