Returning to the home of his first Formula 2 victory, Frederik Vesti was in the hunt for glory once again in Round 4. Trying to find the limit around the Baku City Circuit, the PREMA Racing driver narrowly missed out on pole by just 0.071s, but importantly added 20 points to his tally.
Follow the Dane’s thoughts as he sought to claw back ground to the leading pack in the Championship fight and how he navigated the chaos that would unfold to kick his title chase up a gear.
“There’s obviously the new tarmac in a few places and also, the kerbs are a little bit different, so we were a lot faster. We were nearly two seconds faster in Free Practice compared to last year. It definitely felt good whilst driving, the traction was already massive which was cool to feel. I think we were just faster in general, which is a good thing.
“I was quite comfortable from the beginning. Obviously, we chip away, and we go quicker every lap we did. It’s all about just feeling comfortable and actually going a bit past the limit and then bringing it back. It’s something I’m working on to do better, but it’s something I achieved today which also shows on the results.
“I won here last year, which is of course a great memory. This weekend, I’m a bit chilled. I just try to do my best, maximise each metre I do on the track, and we’ll see where we end up. It’s about scoring points and that’s the most important.
“All the time pole is the target for Qualifying. The target before the season is to be in the top five every single Qualifying. Sometimes we want pole and sometimes we’re happy with the P5, but obviously when I’m in the car, it’s all about pole position. If you want to fight for the Championship in F2, it’s so important to be in the top five.”
“Honestly, it was a great session. As racing drivers, as much as we prepare, there’s nothing more we can ask for than to be fighting for pole pretty much on every lap we push. In Practice, we were fast. Now in Quali, I was P1 after the first push on run two and again fighting for pole on the second lap. This is what I need to do to stay strong in this Championship, so I’m really happy. Unfortunate that we’re not on pole because we definitely had the car and the lap to do it, but just missing a bit of slipstreaming, which makes such a big difference on this track.
“It’s crazy. It’s really difficult to manage because we want to warm the tyres, which is the main priority, but we also want to be in the right spot for the slipstream. So, it’s a bit of a war between all the drivers with a lot of risk taking for no rewards on the warm-up lap, but you hope that the reward will come later if you’re in a good position. It’s tricky, everyone is doing their best, but it’s not the nicest – it's difficult.
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“The plan for the whole Quali was to be really fast straightaway because you just don’t know how many laps you’ll get. We might get one lap; we might get two but it’s not a certainty. Especially after Melbourne where we were fighting for pole again, but there was the Red Flag causing us to be outside the top 10. So, this weekend was just all about getting lap in.”
“I’m not here to be second and being in the lead and then losing it was frustrating. There were emotions and I would be lying if I said I was fully satisfied with that. It was my own mistake, I nearly went into the wall similar to what happened to P1 and P2, just later in the lap and the Safety Car just came out at the wrong time to be honest. Anyways, it’s a 1-2 for the team, which is massive and gives us great confidence. We know we have a strong car, and we just need to keep building and moving forward.
“The Feature Race – it's difficult to predict in Formula 2, sometimes it goes one way or the other way. Feature Races are usually a bit more spread out because of the different tyre compounds, the strategy and all these things. But it’s Baku, the slogan here is to expect the unexpected, so it’s probably what we need to do.”
“It’s points. Looking at the pace and what happened with the option run, I think we can be quite happy. I was back to P8 virtually with the pit stop and all the traffic. So, I think we fought back, and we got into probably the position that our pace deserved. We were not the fastest, so I think we took around the maximum from what we could today.
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“I was struggling a bit on my tyres, and I wanted to box early. Obviously, it was just a bit messy, and I didn’t have a great pit stop and a great out lap. Then, I got caught in traffic with people coming out on cold tyres and having to wait a full lap behind them losing a lot of time. It’s a shame.
“P2 in the Championship – it's a good job. I think every single weekend we have moved closer to the top and this was my best Qualifying so far. There are so many positives to that from this weekend. We are 95% good and then we need to keep improving that last 5%, and we’ll be fighting very hard.”
“I love Imola! It’s a real classic racetrack that is nice to drive, which are the ones I really love. It’s actually where I got my first points last year, so it’s somewhere I’m looking forward to. I used to race there in Formula Regional and won races there.
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“We’re not talking about the Championship yet, it’s all about winning races and scoring the most points possible, but that is exactly what we did and what we need to continue doing. We need to make sure we score the points and do a good job, but it’s really important to keep improving because we are only at Round 4 and there’s still 10 rounds to keep doing a good job.”