Thoughts from Shwartzman, Ticktum and Zhou
FIA Formula 2: Many congratulations to the top three finishers of the FIA Formula 2 Sprint Race 1 here in Baku. Finishing in third place, Guanyu Zhou for UNI-Virtuosi, in second place Dan Ticktum for Carlin and winning his fifth race in Formula 2, our winner, Robert Shwartzman for PREMA Racing. Robert, your first win of the 2021 campaign after what's been a difficult start to the season can you tell us what this means to you?
Robert Shwartzman: It means a lot. It's a good start, I think we were missing a lot of the results at the first two rounds. There were some unlucky moments and some mistakes by me and the team, which compromised a podium. It feels good to be on the podium and to be in first place and I think the race pace we had was very competitive. The guys sitting next to me had pretty good pace too, so I'm just happy to have good pace and start off with a win. We have two races to go but I think there is going to be an interesting race this afternoon, so with the pace we have we're going to try and overtake as many cars as possible.
FIA Formula 2: After what was quite a tricky Qualifying session for you yesterday were you surprised by the pace of your car today?
Shwartzman: No, to be honest I'm not surprised. I've felt pretty good in general here on this track, just in the Qualifying something went wrong. I made a mistake on the first lap where I misjudged the breaking point, went wide, and then I lost confidence on the breaks and on this track the breaks are the most important thing. Basically, I underperformed, I made a few mistakes on my laps but generally the car felt really good. So, I was pretty confident that our pace was in the top three.
FIA Formula 2: You're now up to fifth in the points table, do you feel this win has re-ignited your championship campaign?
Shwartzman: Well to be honest, I don't really think about where I am. The target is just to get as many points as possible every race week and slowly climb back to the top three in the championship. Maybe it's a good thing because last year I started off pretty decent and then started to feel too much pressure and get too much in my head about the idea that I'm winning the Championship. Everything around me was giving me too much pressure. Now I've started, unfortunately, not as high but it's a way to keep calm, keep working, keep believing and just deliver the result.
FIA Formula 2: And it's looks you've pleased the big wigs at Ferrari, great to see all the senior people beneath the podium - well done great result for you! Dan, coming to you, you put in a storming drive from sixth to second. What were your expectations coming into the race?
Dan Ticktum: I don't really set goals or expectations race by race; I just see how it all pans out. If I have good pace and can go forward, I'll do so, or if I have to manage the tyres a lot I'll do that. I didn't get the best start, I went back to 7th and Pourchaire got me at Turn 1 but then I got him back straight away at Turn 3 so overall I held my position on the first lap. Then after the safety car, which came in again on Lap 4, we had really strong pace and the tyres came alive very quickly. Maybe slightly too quickly, which is why when I got my free air, I wasn't able to really make a dent in the gap to Robert. In the back of my mind that has exceeded my expectations to finish second from sixth. It's a difficult Championship to overtake in but luckily the track provides overtaking, which is always good especially for a street circuit. Often you struggle to get past at street circuits but here you can. I enjoyed some of the lunges, they were very fun! I think the best one was probably on Boschung. The car was really good on the brakes. I just had confidence; it was nice to get a bit of a rhythm. I worked out that out that up until the race I'd only done eight push laps in total between Free Practice and Qualifying, so it's nice to get some laps in. If I had to go qualifying now, I'd be very confident. Overall a very good race.
FIA Formula 2: You seemed really racey throughout and you touched on breaking a bit. Where was your car so good, because you made more progress than anyone else this morning?
Ticktum: Like Robert said a few minutes ago, being good on the brakes is probably one of the most important factors here. There's several very big stopping zones into quite difficult 90 degree corners. It's largely about feel, especially when you've come from being flat out for 25 seconds the brakes are e a bit cold when you first hit them and then they come alive 20 meters into the breaking zone. It's a lot of feel, feeling where the rears start to lock and keep it all under control. I've always had good confidence on the brakes so I knew I could pull off some good moves.
FIA Formula 2: Well done Dan. Guanyu, coming to you, well done to you as well. A fourth podium of the season for you after a very tidy drive, tell us about the race and how much satisfaction it's given you?
Guanyu Zhou: Actually, the race was calmer for me than Dan in my opinion. I got a clean first lap and that was the key. It was quite difficult to overtake Jehan because compared to the guys around me he was fast on the straight line. It was quite clear we were lacking in top speed, even with DRS I just made the pass before breaking into Turn 1. Then Dan quickly past Jehan a few laps after, I saw there was no reason to defend him because the speed he was coming at me at was pretty quick. It was actually able to stay behind him every lap but in general I think this weekend we're lacking a little bit in terms of Qualifying mode and race pace, so this afternoon we'll try to figure it out for Sunday's big race.
FIA Formula 2: After passing Daruvala for P2, did you think the win was on at that point?
Zhou: I did because the car felt good in the first few laps and then I got passed. I thought it would be the same for everyone with the tow and DRS, but I realised they had a much bigger effect on the cars behind than me so I knew it was going to be difficult. I passed Jehan, and then a few laps later Dan passed me so they key was to try and stay behind and within DRS.
FIA Formula 2: Well done to all three!