THOUGHTS FROM ZHOU, MAZEPIN AND SCHUMACHER
FIA Formula 2: Many congratulations to the top three finishers of the FIA Formula 2 Sprint Race here at the Sochi Autodrom. Finishing in third place, Mick Schumacher, in second place, Nikita Mazepin, and taking his first win in Formula 2, our winner Guanyu Zhou. Zhou, many congratulations. You've had to wait a while for this moment. How proud did you feel hearing the Chinese national anthem on the podium?
Guanyu Zhou: Definitely proud. It was something amazing. I wanted that, the same as last year. I remember last year when people would interview me, that I said that I wanted that first victory. We had that podium last year, and this year, getting that close in the first round of the season and losing that by a technical issue - it hurts. Then we had some struggles in the races. This week, starting from pole, my target was just to win the race. I think we did everything correctly at the beginning, cleanly, and getting the nice gap with Nikita, pulling away together from the rest of the pack. I knew that the fight for victory was between me and him, more or less. On the other hand, it's definitely amazing to have that first victory. I've been waiting such a long time. It's finally come around, and I think once you hit it the first time, there should be more coming. I'm definitely going to keep working hard, keep pushing, try to achieve more race wins and more podiums in the next two races.
FIA Formula 2: How were your tyres in the race, in that first one-third of the race? Were you confident for the rest of the race, had it happened?
Zhou: Yeah, it was actually really good compared to yesterday. Yesterday we struggled, especially on the option stint. The prime stint was quite strong, but then yesterday we struggled a bit with the overall grip from the rear. Today, it was a lot more comfortable in the sections where yesterday I struggled the most. I think today I was able to push a lot more and it was all under control. It was in a nice shape before the red flag. I wasn't really over-pushing or pushing too much to get any grip out of the tyres. It was all quite nice to be honest.
FIA Formula 2: This victory marks the end of an incredible 10 days for you, because you were testing the two-year-old Renault Formula 1 car in Hungary last week. How do you sum it all up?
Zhou: It was a nice moment, to finally jump into something a bit different because this year we've been super busy with our F2 schedule. Doing two days in Budapest was a really good experience for me, to build back that Formula 1 momentum and to get used to what the F1 team is doing. It was really nice, but to be honest, jumping back into the F2 car in Free Practice, I found that you need a little bit of time to get used to it because of how much downforce and speed they have. For us, especially here where we're the first ones on track with the low grip, you have to get used to that. It's been an amazing few days for me, and I'm definitely happy to arrive at our 'sort of summer break' with a victory.
FIA Formula 2: Many congratulations Zhou. Coming you to now Nikita, second in your home race. A big cheer for you on the podium as well. How did that feel?
Nikita Mazepin: It felt fantastic. I have to say that you really start appreciating the people involved in the sport and that fans that come to watch us when you don't have anybody watching you. Win or lose, it doesn't matter, but the races are very lonely. You go there and do your job, and then you go home. But here for me, especially in front of my home crowd, I'm very happy to be able to finish on the podium. It was something that I felt was very necessary. To treat the Russian people after a difficult quarantine period. Everyone's kind of bored at home, and they came to watch the race, risking their own lives. I felt that was very important. I also felt that we could have won this race. Like Zhou said, we both did a pretty good job in the beginning. We've pulled away and I think the race win was between us two. I would have loved to have had a shot at winning the race, but whatever happened, happened. I'm pleased to come away from the Sprint Race with second place.
FIA Formula 2: You were quite close to Zhou towards the end of the race there. Were you starting to plan a move?
Nikita: Yeah, you know this is a very high-speed circuit, so if you brake a little bit earlier the opportunity comes, and you need to be ready to extract that opportunity at any time. It is available. I made a nice, unexpected, move on Jack (Aitken), and I was planning to make another one on Zhou. It wasn't that straight forward. He obviously had clean air and was able to get better traction than me. It wasn't easy. DRS was less effective than I expected it to be, but I definitely was planning on a move.
FIA Formula 2: Well done Nikita. Mick, coming to you, a win and a third place marks the end of a very productive weekend for you. You now lead the Championship by 22 points. Can you just give us your thoughts on what's happened over the last two days?
Mick Schumacher: Obviously, yesterday was an important day in this year's Championship. Extending that margin that we had, and now on top of that, even more. Talking about the race today, it was alright. We did get off with an average start, but then the first corner, the real corner, was actually pretty good. That's where I made the most ground. After that, I was really just trying to manage my tyres. After yesterday's info, where I saw that Yuki (Tsunoda) was pushing quite hard at the beginning, dropped off towards the end of the race and then came back, I tried to shift that a bit later towards the end. Trying to catch up with these two again when they started fighting. I was going to try to be the lucky third and make an unexpected move, but nevertheless I think the most important thing at the moment is that everyone is healthy and everybody's okay. It was a hard crash for Luca (Ghiotto) and Jack (Aitken), so I'm happy for them that they're good.