THOUGHTS FROM MAZEPIN, ZHOU AND TSUNODA
FIA Formula 2: Hello and welcome to the press conference with the top three finishers in today's FIA Formula 2 Feature Race here at Silverstone. We are joined by race winner Nikita Mazepin for Hitech Grand Prix, in second place is Guanyu Zhou for UNI-Virtuosi, and third is Yuki Tsunoda for Carlin. Nikita, your first win in FIA Formula 2, just how good does that feel?
Nikita Mazepin: Fantastic. To be very honest, I'm not really speaking from the heart at the moment, because there was quite some stress towards the end of the race. I wasn't sure if I should be expecting a car on the alternative strategy coming by a few seconds a lap quicker. I was very wary about how properly I had to drive, not make a mistake, and as you probably guessed the tyres by the end of the race were very difficult to handle. Because of that, it's very difficult to smile. It's not easy to let your guard down and just say 'everything is okay, the race is finished.' Apart from that though, I'm over the moon to recover after a difficult year and set a good trend. It was good in Budapest, good in Qualifying and it was a good race. Hopefully, that will continue. At the same time, I'm extremely happy for my team. It's their first year and a lot of things are going on behind the scenes. For the mechanics it's been very difficult with so many back-to-backs and being on the back foot after seeing the car for the first time very late in December. We had some issues, and I really have the feeling that myself and the team are starting to work as one, and really becoming a strong force to make good results in F2. That's our goal.
FIA Formula 2: You mentioned your first podium last time out in Hungary, but that was a very different drive to what you produced today. Did you feel like you were in control throughout today's race?
Nikita: In terms of the car and the tyres, yes. Also, I would say I was under more pressure in this race because I took the lead reasonably early on. When you're in the lead there's only one thing that you really have to do - maintain it. You just go forward. I would say they were two totally different races, but each of them has been extremely important for us. It's important to have that confident, the knowledge, and the analysis to be able to try and decide which strategy is the correct one to go for. Starting in P5, there were, in our opinion, not too many reasons to try the alternative. If you look around though, it seems like it's worked well for some people. I'm just happy we've pulled it off with the classic strategy if that makes sense.
FIA Formula 2: Congratulations, well done today. Zhou, moving on to you and talking of the alternate strategy, you've gone from P8 to P2. How happy are you with your days’ work?
Guanyu Zhou: It was pretty intense out there. Before the race, we were still not sure whether to start on the prime or the option. The two guys ahead of me, Felipe (Drugovich) and Jack (Aitken), were on the same strategy as me. So, if I got stuck behind them in the high speeds around Silverstone, it would have meant big damage to the front tyres. The plan was to have decent pace, but we had nothing to lose starting P8. We went for it, and the whole race was pretty much about managing my tyres, myself, and where I needed to do moves. I managed that in one lap, did it cleanly and moved forward. I had clean air and when Felipe boxed we had really good pace for the next two or three laps. That made it quite good for coming back out after the pit stop. Coming out the box, there was a big train with prime tyres. I knew that we had a pace advantage, but maybe not for too many laps. If I wanted to move forward, I needed to do it as soon as I could. Once the tyres were up to temperature, we managed to pull the moves off. It wasn't enough to catch Nikita, but on the other hand we got the fastest lap and an extra two points. It's definitely a good recovery for my championship. It seems to be working well on these hard tyres for us, so I'm excited to start tomorrow's race starting P7. Hopefully, it's going to be another exciting race.
FIA Formula 2: You mentioned that final stint. Once you came out, you had to make so many overtaking moves and you were very confident doing it. Which one was your favourite?
Zhou: I think my favourite move was one where I went on the inside going into Turn 4. I think it might have been on Jack. It was really important, because being stuck behind someone on prime tyres is not ideal through the second sector. As soon as I knew I had the DRS I had to make the move. That was quite nice. In the end, using the option tyres and passing two people in one lap was quite nice. I had great fun out there.
FIA Formula 2: Congratulations. Yuki, moving on to you. From ninth place on the grid to third, and another podium. How happy are you to finish in the top three again in the Feature Race?
Yuki Tsunoda: Honestly, I couldn't expect this result. The pace was very good from the beginning, but I was stuck behind the car in front. After I changed to the prime tyre, I got some really good information from my engineer that most of the drivers were struggling on that tyre. I tried to manage and be calm in the beginning to push at the end. That worked really well. If I didn't have that information, I think it would have been a different result, so thanks to the engineer, and the team. I'm really happy with that.
FIA Formula 2: Obviously, the last time you were on the podium, you had been leading the race and your radio didn't work. Does that information you're getting from the team show the importance of the whole team effort during a race?
Yuki: Yeah. Until Hungary, honestly, I didn't really like a lot of talk on the radio between me and my engineer. That made it difficult. From here in Silverstone we've tried to speak more, to have more information, to make the race easier with that. That definitely works better than the previous race, so I think in the next race I'll talk more, talk a lot, and have more information.
FIA Formula 2: Good luck, and well done today. Nikita, returning to you. Robert (Shwartzman) finished today's race down in P14, so this result really bunches up the Championship standings. Is the title your target this season?
Nikita: I'm thinking about how to answer this correctly, because I think for almost every driver in this championship the title is the target. The question is whether it is achievable or not, and I would say yes. I think that we have the advantage, in being a new team, in that we are probably going to keep improving for the rest of the season. I'm pretty confident that we can do very well. I think anything can happen, and you'll see that people have bad races, bad weekends, and we had those at the beginning of the year. The goal is not to have any more! I think we can do well, and where that puts us as a number is difficult to say, but let's see.