Several drivers were caught off guard by the performance of the Pirellis in Bahrain, with those who started on the prime tyres pitting before those who had rolled up on softs. Making up eight places to fifth, Marcus Armstrong was one of just three drivers to brave the alternate strategy, but he said that the difference between the two compounds wasn’t as great as he expected.
After a difficult Qualifying session left him starting from outside of the top 10, Armstrong endured further frustration in the Sprint Race as he was tagged by Jake Hughes at the start.
The Hitech Grand Prix driver was back fighting at the sharp end on Sunday, jumping to seventh off the line, and said that he was pleased to maximise his potential at the start.
“It was fun,” smiled Armstrong. “It’s always nice to be overtaking like everyone is standing still, although the grip difference wasn't as big as I was expecting, actually.
“I was expecting us to be way quicker on the soft than we were, but ultimately, we were only just a bit quicker than those on the hards - fast enough to overtake, but they weren’t fast enough to blow everyone away. So, I think I did a decent job positioning it on the opening lap and then overtaking.
“The Hard wasn’t great, so we wanted to do the hard yards on the Soft and then just survive until the end on the prime. We did a decent job, but it would have been better if we’d boxed a couple of laps earlier because we hit a cliff on the Soft towards the end of that stint.”
Asked which of his collection of overtakes was his favourite, Armstrong replied: “All of them: they’re like my children, and I love them equally. I liked my last lap one because I had zero grip, so to go three-wide when I think all three of us were in crisis mode at that point was kind of fun.”
Despite missing out on points in Saturday’s race, Armstrong departed the opening round seventh in the standings thanks to his overtake-laden Feature Race. The New Zealander said that he was delighted to leave his least favourite circuit on the calendar with points on the board.
“The Championship is not won in Bahrain, and I would say this is the most unique track of the season due to the tyre difficulties,” he said. “In my opinion, this was always going to be my most difficult track, so I’m glad that it’s out of the way.
“It’s important to get a few points on the board because it’s a long championship and Bahrain is Bahrain. Onwards and upwards, as my Instagram caption will say.
“In Jeddah, I expect to hit the ground running. We want to do what we can do straight away. I want to improve in Quali, that will be the key for next weekend. I’m pleased with the car's performance this weekend and hope that we can carry it through.”