CEO Bruno Michel looks back at an eventful second round of the 2021 season and picks out his key topics from Monte Carlo.
Michel discusses the rise of Théo Pourchaire, the disqualification of Liam Lawson and gives his thoughts on the early title fight.
CLEAN AND HARD RACING
The streets of Monaco are unforgiving and put the drivers to the ultimate test. Last weekend, we saw very few mistakes, and I think it speaks volume of the quality of the 2021 F2 grid. All three race starts were particularly clean, with some drivers neatly sneaking past rivals. We saw some very impressive moves too, on a track that is famous for making it almost impossible to overtake.
The first Sprint Race was the least entertaining event, although I should highlight Marcus Armstrong’s muscled pass on Jehan Daruvala for 10th, which subsequently earned him reverse grid pole. Sprint Race 2 was more exciting, on a wet track, while the Feature Race delivered some interesting strategies and animated final laps. The drivers always say how special it is for them to race in Monte Carlo. It’s always very special for us to watch them master the streets of Monaco too!
At 17-years-old, Théo Pourchaire has scored his maiden F2 pole position and Feature Race win, in Monaco no less! It was his first time driving on the prestigious and highly demanding track… Watching him grow in Formula 3 last year, we knew he had great potential, but we did not necessarily think he would fully show it in F2 by Round 2, in Monte Carlo. He sustained the pressure both in qualifying and in the Feature Race and made it look measured and easy. He is definitely one to watch this season.
HIGHLIGHTS AND A HEARTBREAK
There were quite a few highlights last weekend, starting with a double podium finish for two drivers, Oscar Piastri and Felipe Drugovich. Their mature drives were on full display in Monaco, with the Australian rookie now lying second in the Drivers’ Championship.
Ralph Boschung and Jüri Vips should also be praised for being two of the four drivers to have scored in all three races last weekend. It was the best F2 event of the Swiss’ career, scoring his and Campos’ first points this season.
I was also quite pleased to see Roy Nissany take a maiden F2 podium in Friday’s race. His hard work and dedication were finally rewarded with some silverware.
It could have been a strong weekend for Liam Lawson: the New Zealander put on a great show in the second Sprint Race to finish first on track. After a disqualification following a technical non-conformity, he put his head down for the Feature Race and showed once again his natural speed and strong driving skills. Lawson’s woes on Saturday morning promoted Dan Ticktum to P1 in the Sprint Race 2. The Carlin driver has been fast and strong since Bahrain, and I expect him to be in the mix for the title fight.
GUANYU ZHOU LEADS THE WAY
Guanyu Zhou was the man of the hour in Round 1 in Bahrain. However, qualifying in Monaco last week did not go as planned for the UNI-Virtuosi ace. Still, P10 provided him with the opportunity to start from reverse pole. He drove flawlessly to the chequered flag. It was important to him to take the win following his friend Anthoine Hubert’s victory in the streets of Monte Carlo two years ago. Zhou keeps the lead in the Drivers’ Championship, ahead of two rookies, Oscar Piastri and Théo Pourchaire. Behind the trio, Dan Ticktum and Liam Lawson complete the top five.
I am expecting more drivers to fight at the front in the coming rounds, such as Robert Shwartzman, Christian Lundgaard or Marcus Armstrong, who are yet to have a smooth weekend in 2021. Add to the mix some talented Formula 3 graduates who had less of a successful Round 2 than they did in Bahrain, and the tables may be different in a few weeks’ time…
It remains quite tight in the Teams’ Championship. UNI-Virtuosi are leading PREMA Racing, notably thanks to a 1-2 finish in Sprint Race 1, but Carlin, ART Grand Prix and Hitech Grand Prix stay close behind. Thirty-nine points cover the top five ahead of Round 3, which proves that we are in for an intense Title fight! I’m also expecting the rest of the field to catch up soon.