Nobuharu Matsushita is happy to admit that luck played its part in his first Feature Race win of the season, but says that he “pushed harder than before,” to make it happen.
The Japanese driver started all the way back in 18th – the farthest back anyone has ever won from in F2. And, while Matsushita says he didn’t plan to be fighting for the victory, he certainly made the most of the good fortunate.
Matsushita had been promoted up the grid when a late Safety car forced a number of drivers to pit for a second time. This shuffled the pack and handed the MP Motorsport driver third, having changed tyres just ahead of the collision. He still had to make his way past Callum Ilott and Yuki Tsunoda when the Safety Car returned, and then hold onto P1 as well.
“I didn’t expect to win the Feature Race, but the safety car came at the perfect time,” he explained. “It was not the plan, but the situation changed, and I had good pace.
“It was a lucky situation, but I done what I could do. It had been a really long time without a podium for me, so I was really happy to come back on the podium, which gives me more confidence.
“Fighting for the win is the best situation for a racing driver, because you have the pressure and this pressure gives you more aggression for the driving as well. When I was fighting with Callum, Yuki, or whoever, this fighting was for the win, not for P10, P11, P12, so that is why it was really good fun, under the pressure.”
It wasn’t only the Saturday, which was a positive one for Matsushita either, the confidence he said he gained from the win, was evident in the Sprint Race, when he rose from eighth to fifth on the grid.
“My prime stint on Saturday was really competitive, so that’s why I had confidence for the race on Sunday. The temperature dropped a little bit, but I knew the car would be good and that my driving is suited to Barcelona.
“I had a bit of confidence and kept it calm. Sunday’s race was difficult to overtake, and I knew that it would be hard for the degradation - it was hard for everybody. I was planning to be patient in the beginning and then attack at the end of the race, which helped me to get P5.”
MP Motorsport became the first team in 2020 to win both races on the same weekend, as Felipe Drugovich followed up Matsushita’s Feature Race success, with a Sprint Race victory.
While Matsushita knows that no two rounds are the same, he believes in his team’s ability to “adapt,” when they head to Spa for Round 7.
“This weekend for MP Motorsport was amazing,” he continued. “A win for me on Saturday and a win for Felipe on Sunday. Felipe seems to have good Qualifying pace as well, which is good. We have a good car for Qualifying and a good car for the race at the moment. Of course, it is not going to be the same situation in spa, but we can adjust, and we already have a decent car.”
It’s a weekend that Matsushita knows will be emotional, as the drivers return to the track for the first time since the tragic accident last year, which killed Anthoine Hubert, and seriously injured Juan Manuel Correa.
“To be back in Spa, will be emotional,” he said. “Last year we didn’t race, and it was a sad weekend. Hopefully, we can make it a fantastic weekend this year. I would really like to come back on to the podium again of course. I like the track as well, so I have confidence for Round 7.”