Marino Sato says that keeping out of trouble was the key to scoring points in the Baku Feature Race. The Vituosi Racing driver secured an eighth-place finish on Sunday, but had to avoid a crash between Roy Nissany and Cem Bölükbasi en route.
The Japanese driver believes that more points could have been possible if the timing had been better for his pit stop and without the Safety Car interventions that hampered his strategy.
As well as avoiding the crash between the DAMS and Charouz Racing System drivers, Sato says that with teammate Jack Doohan getting preference ahead of him on the road for his stop, it ended up costing him more time and there may have been more points on offer.
“I’m quite happy with what we’ve done today. We had a good pit stop but unfortunately the timing was off. I wanted to come in early, but Jack was in front so had the priority. I think I lost a second with that because my tyres were already on the limit at that point. I made a few overtakes but not a lot. I kept it clean and we got rewarded."
Recalling the action after getting out of the car, Sato says that he had a cautious start to the race, aiming to avoid trouble while other drivers got aggressive.
His patience paid off and after Nissany and Bolukbasi collided, he was promoted up the order, vindicating his approach to the Feature event.
“The first lap was tight because I got a good run into Turn 1 but there were four cars going alongside, so that was already tight. Another one would have been when I came out the pits. I gained time by delaying the stop and having warmer tyres for a few laps longer, but then I had the cold tyres and the three behind all had their tyres warmed up. I was trying to defend my place, lost one in a few corners and was going to lose two but they collided. Luckily I gained a couple places which I think we would’ve eventually gained them back anyway. I had the fresher tyres. It was a mixture of luck but I managed.”
Looking beyond Baku, Sato says that the team was able to find pace across the weekend which bodes well for the next round at Silverstone.
While the circuit is a return to the conventional, the Virtuosi driver is remaining weary about the weather which might throw up a surprise or two next month.
“We had a bit to chase in Qualifying here but yesterday the pace felt quite alright. We learned from the other car where they were stronger than us and I think that worked. We were generally stronger than yesterday, it was just the timing of stuff, the pit stop and the Safety Cars. I’m quite happy overall.
“Silverstone will be back to a traditional circuit. I think we’ll have a clearer picture of everyone, team and drivers. I’m looking forward to it. It’s about the weather at Silverstone. We might not see a lot of sun there but if we do, we can be in a good place. I've got of homework and preparation until then.”