Felipe Drugovich will have dreamt up a thousand scenarios in his head of how his first Formula 2 weekend would go, but you can bet that none of them lived up to the reality, as the Brazilian got off to a fairy-tale start in Spielberg, winning the Sprint Race.
Few, if any, would have had the debutant as a race winner in Round 1 – Drugovich never finished higher than sixth in F3 last season - but he drove like an F2 veteran last weekend, comfortably holding off Louis Deletraz around the Red Bull Ring.
This was despite having to contend with three safety car restarts, each of which brought him back within DRS range of the Charouz driver and forced him to rebuild the gap between them.
“It was really perfect,” said Drugovich immediately after the race. “It was difficult because of the restarts. With the DRS range you always have to try and keep that gap of one second to keep the others outside, but every time the safety car came out, I had to push again, and every time you push, you make the tyres worse and heat them up.
“Every time I got a gap there was a safety car. It was hard and there was a lot of pressure, I was pushing every lap, but I am so happy.”
Arguably, the most impressive feature of the Brazilian’s weekend was the speed in which he learned from his mistakes. Drugovich was the surprise package of qualifying, securing second on the grid for his first race in F2.
Things didn’t go quite as planned though. He struggled to defend his position and slowly dropped down to eighth. The consolation being that it handed him another front row start from reverse grid pole.
“The start wasn’t so good yesterday,” he continued. “Today’s wasn’t the best either to be honest, but it was good enough to keep first position.
“Yesterday we didn’t have the result that we wanted. But, we learned about keeping the tyres – although maybe I shouldn't say that! We also learned little things about the set up and I just kept calm. I am so proud of the team, we fixed the car and I am really happy for it.”
Despite the positive steps he has already made in his fledging F2 career, Drugovich knows there is much more work to be done if he is to become a consistent force in the Championship. He’ll have to learn them quickly too, with Round 2 – again in Spielberg - less than a week away.
“My target will be the same,” he continued. “I will try and improve with every round and focus on trying to learn during my rookie season. I know it's really difficult and that everything is going to be fairly new every time I get on the track, but we've shown good pace.
“The Feature Race was not what we wanted but it looks like we have fixed part of the problem that we had, and we were fast today.
“I think we still have to improve on the strategy side, and I also need to learn more about the pit stops and learn how to make my starts consistent. I will just try and take it easy and improve with every round.”