Thoughts from Zhou, Drugovich and Ilott

FIA Formula 2: Hello and welcome to the press conference with the top three qualifiers for FIA Formula 2's Feature Race here in Austria. We are joined by pole-sitter Guanyu Zhou for UNI-Virtuosi, in second place is Felipe Drugovich for MP Motorsport and third is Callum Ilott, also for UNI-Virtuosi Racing. Zhou, we have had to wait a long time to get the season started, but you were on it from the word go this afternoon, taking pole by nearly half a second. Just how good was that last lap?

Guanyu Zhou: Firstly, it is great to be back, and also great to already have my first pole of the season. It has been a long waiting period, so it is great to reward the team for all of their hard work. I think that it was a good lap by myself, and in the last sector I think I went sideways a few times! I didn't think I would Qualify that well, I just wanted to be as near to the front as possible for the start, but obviously getting the first pole is great, and I think having Callum {Ilott} P3 as well is great for the UNI-Virtuosi team.

FIA Formula 2: Obviously, we have had the long delay to the season, so to have such a big margin {is great} - how comfortable did you feel in the car today?

Zhou: I was really excited last night before going to bed and then this morning I was just happy to be back in a machine. Today, I think in Free Practice, we started with a good baseline, and were up there in the top five. I think that thanks to the preparation that we done in the Bahrain tests, and the guys working hard in the factory, putting a lot of effort in, it all came together for this weekend, so I am just really happy.

FIA Formula 2: Congratulations and well done today. Felipe, moving on to you. P2 on your debut, you must be delighted with that result?

Felipe Drugovich: Yeah, for sure I am. Especially after a hard year last year in F3. Moving up into F2 and straight into P2 in the first Qualifying is so good and gives me loads of confidence. For sure, we have had enough time to analyse everything from Bahrain till now {laughs], so it was really good. Everything we done; I think we done right. We had some issues in the first outing, in Qualifying, but I think that everything came together in the second half and it was so good to be back in the top three.

FIA Formula 2: The Formula 1 practice sessions go on for three hours on the Friday, and you guys don't get anywhere near as much practice, how prepared do you feel for tomorrow's race?

Felipe: I feel as prepared as I can be, with no experience in the F2 car, with long races in F2, but I did everything that I could to try and prepare and I think that tyre degradation is a big thing in F2. Maybe with the 18-inch tyres it can be different, but we will have to see. I think that I just have to enjoy this and learn as much as I can tomorrow.

FIA Formula 2: Congratulations and good luck for tomorrow. Callum, moving on to you. Just four thousandths of a second, I think, separated you from second place, how do you sum up your day?

Callum Ilott: It is great to be back. Obviously, we have spent a long time waiting, with lots of analysing the short amount of data that we had from Bahrain to get ready for this. So yeah, I think that a lot of us went into this with different expectations, but obviously as a team we came off really well in Qualifying. Practice was interesting from my side, it was good to be back in the car, but some things needed to be sorted out, and I needed to get used to some other things. Then, for Quali, we made a lot of changes and it was really good. I had an issue though and had to come in and make a few changes, and we were saved by the red flag, because it suspended the session a bit. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have made it back out. The team did a good job though to get everything sorted and then I got my one lap at the end to put it into P3. I couldn't quite catch these two, but it was close between the rest of us. I think that the pace was definitely there, so we will just go into tomorrow and do the best job possible.

FIA Formula 2: I am sure that your experience will have helped you to put together that lap at the end of the session. Are you hoping it is going to help you in a fight with Felipe tomorrow?

Callum: There are a lot of us who were very close, so I will just try and get away clean. There are a lot of rookies who have missed out on test days as well, so I think that everyone has to be a little more cautious than normal. We also don't really know what to expect with the 18-inch rims in terms of what way they will go. We have got harder compounds than last year, but I think that we have got to analyse it a bit and everyone has to stay calm and just get the race done. We have got a double header here, so we may as well get as much practice in as possible.

FIA Formula 2: Good luck tomorrow. Zhou, just returning to you. You will be going for your first win in Formula 2 tomorrow. What is going to be the most important thing to focus on to try and get that result.

Zhou: Firstly, it will be the clean start. Obviously, it is the first race of the season and you do not want to do anything silly at the start. It will be a long race and we have got the new 18-inch tyres, and I don’t think that anyone will have too much {knowledge} of them, so it is going to be quite interesting with the tyre management. As Callum said, having the harder compound this year, compared to last year, might be easier… Or it might be the same - who knows. I think that it is going to be a long race tomorrow. As we saw last year, in the first race, Nicholas Latifi in P2 overtook Luca Ghiotto in P1 with just a few laps to go, so I think that tyre management will be key in F2.