Thoughts from Zhou, Ticktum and Lawson
FIA Formula 2: Many congratulations to the top three finishers of the FIA Formula 2 Feature Race here at the Bahrain International Circuit. Finishing in third place for Hitech Grand Prix, Liam Lawson, second place for Calin, Dan Ticktum, and converting pole position to his first victory in 2021, our race winner Guanyu Zhou for UNI-Virtuosi.
Guanyu what a tremendous race from you. On paper it looked simple, pole to P1, but it was hugely eventful right up to the last lap. What were the key moments in the race for you?
Guanyu Zhou: There weren't really any key moments, I think every moment was pretty intense. As you know, we started on prime tyres on pole position and that's not a strategy people would normally take. I'm comfortable with option tyres so we wanted to get an advantage at the end of the race and try to survive at the beginning, and the option was clearly so much quicker for the first six or seven laps. It was good to be staying behind Marcus, who was also on options. Then with the safety car two cars jumped ahead again, which made it even trickier to get past them on track because there was a train of five cars ahead of me. I had to get past them as soon as I could without losing too much time and then once I got to the lead it was more about controlling the rears and having a consistent pace. The last Virtual Safety Car made things a little trickier as well. My tyres weren't exactly in the right window and I was struggling with the rears in the last few laps, but I'm super happy with the whole team. I think we deserved this win after being a little bit unlucky yesterday.
FIA Formula 2: You certainly did. Now you say it was all looking good after the pit stop but you did drop back to seventh. How confident were you back there that the victory was still on?
Zhou: I was definitely confident that I was able to pass the people primes, so I was mainly asking on the radio about who is on options and who is in front. Liam was right behind me and then Verschoor was quite far ahead in P2 so I knew I had to do the job quite quickly. The moment I got behind him, I was waiting for him to get some tyre degradation. Then I was able to make a pretty good move. It was tricky out there today, with the strong wind the F2 car definitely wasn't the easiest to drive.
FIA Formula 2. Guanyu, well done, great victory today. Dan good to see you in this post race press conference after what's been quite an eventful weekend for you. First up, the car seemed to come alive after your pit stop how tough was it to keep the soft tyre alive in those closing stages?
Dan Ticktum: I mean I've had an eventful career, it's just another eventful weekend to add to that. Very tough, the whole race really. I got a relatively okay start, but it was very clear that the options were much quicker, so I got overtaken by a couple of people on those. I was a little bit worried because I didn't expect the pace difference of the two tyres to be that big, so I was concerned, but I just tried to get on with my race at that point. Then in the pit stop I had a very slow front left; I don't know how much time I lost but it was a good few seconds. I was right behind Zhou going into the pits, but I came out about five seconds behind and lost about three places as well. It was costly and at that point I thought I was going to struggle to get a top five. I knew I would catch the people on primes and I also knew I need to look after the tyres in the first four or five laps when a lot of damage can be done. I just took my opportunities as they came. I wasn't hanging about that's for sure, the moves were all assertive. The VSC didn't help, I was really coming through at the end and we probably could have won, but we went all the way to P9 in the pitstop, so I'll take a P2 after this weekend.
FIA Formula 2: Now you say your moves were assertive, they certainly were. Can you talk us through that key moment for P2 with Oscar Piastri at the first corner?
Ticktum: I'm sure when this track was designed a group of track designers got together to design a corner to cause the most crashes and incidents! Everyone is going in really quick and then trying to prepare for the next one so it's an accident-prone corner, but from my side, I was ahead of him. He just clipped me, and I reacted very fast to catch the car. I could have easily been sent into a spin, then I thought I hope I haven't got a puncture because that would be the next thing. I haven't seen the onboard and I haven't seen any camera angles, but it seems like a bit of a rookie mistake from him to be honest. I had passed him so he didn't need to keep his nose in, he wasn't going to take me back on the inside there. I don't want to comment more on it yet. It's unfortunate for him and I'd never want to see a driver spin around and end their race, but I was ahead.
FIA Formula 2: Thank you Dan. Liam, coming to you. A very solid day's work, P8 on the grid to P3 at the flag. Just describe how you're feeling about how the day went?
Liam Lawson: Extremely happy to finish third today, it's a really good haul of points especially after yesterday's race. I was really angry about how that finished because it was a lot of points that we threw away, so it was nice to bounce back today. Overall pace was good on the options, we definitely struggled on primes in the first stage of the race. I sat around P8, making a couple of spots, and then dropping back a little bit. We got lucky with the VSC because I was in the box when it came out and everyone slowed down, so I made up some spots there. We had good pace, especially early on with the options. Dan was faster so I let him go, in the end I just didn't quite have enough tyre life to fight with these two in the last couple of laps, but I was able to get back up to third. Points wise, a good weekend.
FIA Formula 2: We've had three hugely exciting and eventful races here in Bahrain. Can we get your summary of what you make of Formula 2 at what has been the first round for you?
Lawson: We were just saying last year when I was in Formula 3, one of the most exciting part of the weekend was the sitting down to watch the F2 race so it's crazy to now be a part of it and feel what it's like for all of these guys. I am enjoying it so far, learning a lot and there's still a lot more to be learnt as we go on.
FIA Formula 2: Can I get each of your thoughts please on what you make of the three-race format now that we've had all three races in one weekend? Guanyu you could kick off please.
Zhou: It is making exciting races for sure. I think pole position is quite important but on the other hand P9 to P10 is a little bit less of an issue. If you had a struggle in qualifying you can definitely make up for it. Obviously, you want the four points for pole, but if you end up starting P9 or P8 on the reverse grid it's quite easy to get into a collision in Turn 1 which can damage your race quite a lot too. At the end of day, it's the same for everyone, so I'm not complaining we just have to cope with it. I think the guys who can be the most consistent over the whole weekend can win the Championship at the end of the day.
FIA Formula 2: Thank you, Dan your thoughts?
Ticktum: I think on Saturday consistency is key, if you have an incident in the first race, you're then at the back for the next one. I think consistent and measured aggression on Saturday, and then on Sunday on you can attack a bit more. It's definitely exciting. It's a bit strange to Qualify up front and then start near the back in the first race of the weekend but for all you guys sat watching at home it's probably quite exciting. I quite like it so far, but I'll give you my verdict at the end of the season.
FIA Formula 2: Liam, how about you?
Lawson: For me, it's more races and more time in the car on a race weekend so I like it! One of the things about racing on a Formula 1 weekend is that the there's limited track time, so it's awesome to get more time racing. The way we've done the format makes it quite interesting. Obviously for me it's worked out great this weekend after a bad Qualifying. People were talking about trying to be strategic, and I guess we actually did it by qualifying toward the back of the top ten and starting at the front on Race 1. The Feature Race is a race where you can make up more positions with strategy because of the pit stop so it worked out for us. This weekend it served us well, but I think it will be quite interesting to see over the year as people try to get really smart with it.