THOUGHTS FROM TSUNODA, ZHOU AND MAZEPIN
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 Sakhir. We are joined by race winner Yuki Tsunoda for Carlin, in second place is Guanyu Zhou for UNI-Virtuosi, and third is Nikita Mazepin for Hitech Grand Prix. Yuki, what a win. You lost the lead off the line at the start and had to fight your way back through. Just how tough was it out there for you today?
Yuki Tsunoda: After the start in Turn 1 I just made a space, too much on the inside, and of course the car behind would try to overtake. That was my mistake. After that, I just reset my mind, tried to just focus on my tyre management, and I just really chilled behind P2. The last five or ten laps I saw, especially in P2, (Robert) Shwartzman I think it was, starting to struggle on the tyres. I tried to overtake him once, or else Nikita was going to pull away from me. I overtook him and it was good. After that I was also thinking that the tyres felt like they still had potential to catch Nikita, but it was not really a big difference compared to him. I just tried not to make mistakes and catch him little-by-little. Finally, I think it was (Christian) Lundgaard, who wasn't fighting for position, passed me and Nikita. When he overtook Nikita, I got a little bit more of a chance. I used that chance and overtook Nikita. The race was really good. Big thanks to Carlin for making a really good car from last week. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
FIA Formula 2: The car looked really quick, but you had to work very hard for it. Just talk us through the move for the lead into Turn 1, and then again at Turn 4.
Yuki: Normally I try to overtake from the outside, but I tried a lot to overtake Shwartzman on the outside, but it didn't work much compared to other tracks. I just used that experience on Nikita and committed to going on the inside. That worked well. Also, braking was a little bit scary because it was easy to lock up, but it was okay.
FIA Formula 2: Well done, it was great to watch today. Zhou, moving on to you. What a drive as well. That final stint on the softs. Same thing really, it was great to watch you come through. Just how much fun did you have out there?
Guanyu Zhou: Yeah it was pretty fun. I was a little bit unhappy after the pitstop. We had a little misjudgement with the speed limit. At the beginning of the race I had to work hard with the hard tyres. I overtook my teammate and tried to stay in front of him, having the DRS and thinking at the time 'I have to go longer with my tyres.' It was really tough having manage that, and I think I did pretty well. After the pitstop it was about trying, with the tyre advantage, to get ahead. I knew I was in a good position at least for the reverse grid. I just kept pushing. I had nothing to lose with where I am in the Championship and all that. After a tough season definitely, all these moves on the last few laps have to really stick and be straight forward, but I couldn't afford to lose any time. Especially when I got to P4. I had to do two moves and got clear, and then it was about catching Yuki in the DRS train. Not really necessarily to attack him, just more like trying to follow him and go through. I don't know how many seconds there were before the last lap, but I was always pushing. All the way to the finish line. I was just grateful I got the P2 in the end. It's really great for the team with how hard they've worked so far.
FIA Formula 2: You mentioned the gap. Were the team keeping you informed about what you needed to do and where you were going to finish with that five second time penalty?
Zhou: Yeah. At the end of the stint, they said, 'you've got P6 or P7 on track,' and I kept going forward. The guys were fighting a little bit hard at the front. Then the team were like, 'you're P2 but P4, on track they're fighting behind so keep pushing.' I always had the gap updated, and I was asking a lot on the radio because I needed to know exactly. I was really great in the last few laps I think. I was putting in more like Qualifying laps. In the end I'm super happy to be here right where I am after a messy Qualifying yesterday.
FIA Formula 2: Well done, it was great to watch. Nikita, moving on to you. I could say it to every driver that was out there today I think. It made for a thrilling race. The closing laps looked really tough for you though, dropping from the lead to third place. How tough was it with the tyres in the final stages there?
Nikita Mazepin: Yeah it was tough. I'll be honest. I don't think we were the strongest out there today. Fair play to Yuki and Carlin. I think they did a very good job with preparing the car for being good on tyres. However, I can say that I've had everything under control until something that I've never seen before in my single-seater career. A guy trying to un-lap himself, obviously because he's fighting with us in the Championship. Which I will say is a bit of a not nice move. I'm trying to find the correct words because we're in a press conference. I mean, I could not use the advantage of having the clean air anymore, because I didn't have it. I was just, to be honest, a sitting duck. I was a bit lost as to what to do. I didn't know. I obviously didn't want to fight him because he's on fresher tyres. Anyway, it put me in a position where I wasn't really able to fight and defend, and ever since that moment things started to become tough. I finished where I did.
FIA Formula 2: You put up a very strong fight in trying to hold on to hold to those positions. I know a few of the moves are under investigation after the race, as is Yuki's move on you for the lead. Just talk us through those closing stages. Do you think it was all firm but fair from everyone?
Nikita: Well I raced here last weekend as well, so Turn 1 and the last corner are the same. Like I said in the press conference last week, I thought that Mick's (Schumacher) defending moves on me were very good and strong. I re-watched the stream maybe 10 or 15 times, and I tried to learn from him because I said he was amazingly good. I think it was fine obviously because I used basically all the track to block. That's what I did. I messed up with (Felipe) Drugovich in Turn 1. This I hold my hands up to. I let him overtake because I knew that it was not correct what I did, so I let him pass. I got past him again, which made it more difficult. I knew that I couldn't just leave because I thought the Stewards were going to catch me after the race, but as to what about the defending - I would say that was fine.
FIA Formula 2: Thank you very much and well done today. Yuki, just returning to you. I think this win secures enough Super Licence points for you to get a Super Licence to race in F1 next year. Just how important was that for you?
Yuki: Well, I didn't know about that, but I'm really happy to get the Super Licence points, like I say, if it's true. Also, Helmut (Marko) was in front of the podium today to celebrate my P1. I'm really happy about that. Still, F2 is not over. I have tomorrow's race too. Do I have a chance to get P1 in the Championship now?
FIA Formula 2: Not now.
Yuki: Oh okay. We'll I'll try to fight in the Championship for P2 maybe? I'll fight as much as possible, and after tomorrow's race I'll celebrate with the team for the whole season.