Thoughts from Piastri, Zhou and Ticktum
FIA Formula 2: Congratulations to the top three finishers of the FIA Formula 2 Feature Race here at Monza. Finishing in third place Dan Ticktum, for Carlin, in second place Guanyu Zhou for UNI-Virtuosi and converting pole position to take his second victory of the season. Our winner, Oscar Piastri for PREMA. Oscar, huge congratulations, you've won the Feature Race. How sweet was that race for you?
Oscar Piastri: It's obviously pretty nice to win a Feature Race, it was a bit of redemption after Silverstone. I would say our pace was actually better in Silverstone but we just didn't get it quite right on the Sunday. Today the first thing I wanted to do was to get a good start. I think everyone got worse starts compared to yesterday because my start didn't feel amazing but it was good enough to keep the lead. Then our pace was good enough to keep Zhou out of DRS range, but saying that, after our pit stop it was pretty difficult to get close to Dan so I think he had some good pace on board today. Anyway, it's very nice to tick a Feature Race win off!
FIA Formula 2: As you say, you made a great start. You were never headed, bar the pit stop phase of the race. But there was always pressure, how tense did it get towards the end with Guanyu?
Piastri: It was reasonably calm until the last Safety Car. I just didn't quite get the brakes in the right window and then locked up into Turn 1 on the front left, which is far from ideal around here because it does all the work. After that I was a bit hesitant on the brakes and hoping I didn't flat spot it even more, and I had to defend from Zhou into the second chicane so I was happy that I could keep him behind after that. I actually saw on the big screen that Dan was passing Pourchaire for third with two or three laps to go, so I thought I should get a hurry on...
Dan Ticktum: I was coming mate!
Piastri: I know! So at that point I wasn't managing the gap to Zhou, I was pushing pretty hard. I knew I had to give it absolutely everything in case Dan was coming. I guess we'll never know how that race could have finished without the last Safety Car.
FIA Formula 2: How seriously were you taking the threat from Dan on the soft tyre?
Piastri: Before he pitted, I had no idea where he'd come out. I only really knew where he was when I looked at the big screen with two or three laps to go. At that point I knew he was about to get past Zhou and I had a second gap in front of Zhou, but I knew with the compound difference and fresher tyres he'd be catching me at a rate quicker than that. So I was definitely taking it pretty seriously.
FIA Formula 2: It's been a good points scoring day for the Championship for you, how do you view it going forward now? Is it a two-horse race between you and Guanyu or are there lots more people still in it?
Piastri: It's definitely not a two-horse race. I don't know what the standing look like now, but I think if you're still within 50 points of the lead then you can have a really good weekend or the guys at the front can have a really bad weekend and all of sudden you're well and truly back in the mix. This is only Round 5 of 8 so we've got three rounds to go, which is still over a quarter of the season, so it's definitely not a two-horse race.
FIA Formula 2: Well done today. Guanyu, coming to you, you showed really good pace throughout that race, and fought some close battles. Talk us through some of them, it got very close with Liam Lawson, Jehan Daruvala, and even with Oscar?
Guanyu Zhou: The race for me was quite busy in the cockpit to be honest. First of all, I had a pretty good start and was able to stay with Oscar. Then when we had the restart, I was a little bit deep into the chicane and Liam got a quite nice run at me going into Turn 4, I tried to brake as late as I could but Oscar didn't quite make the corner in front of me so I had to slow down a bit more than I wanted and Liam went through the outside. Then with Jehan we touched wheels also in Turn 4, it was quite a mess, and I was quite worried about punctures but in the end, I got through and then main target was chasing Oscar. The last four laps were quite difficult, I wasn't watching the big screen I was watching the front and rear mirrors. I knew Dan was behind Théo and it was basically like Qualifying laps for me, I think both of us were giving it everything we had with our tyres.
FIA Formula 2: Where was your focus in those last laps after that final Safety Car, was it to pass Oscar, or to keep Dan behind?
Zhou: I was actually trying to chase Oscar, because I knew as soon as I could chase him into the DRS zone it would make my life a bit easier. I was also expecting Théo to keep Dan behind for a bit more time, but Dan passed him quite quickly. Then I was focusing on making no mistakes, but it was super difficult with the medium tyres in the last few laps.
FIA Formula 2: A quick word on the Championship from you too. These two second places have kept you right in the mix, haven't they?
Zhou: That's exactly what we wanted, from the second race in Baku we had a string of four zero-point races which hurt a lot in the rankings but we bounced back with the Feature Race in Silverstone and we've kept the momentum here in Monza. I'm pretty happy with what we achieved this weekend and I think for sure as a team we need to be more consistent, because PREMA this year seems to be the most consistent team out there. We'll push hard and try to gain some points back in the future.
FIA Formula 2: Well done Guanyu. Dan coming to you, congratulations, you rolled the dice on strategy and it so nearly paid off. Finally some good luck for you here at Monza?
Ticktum: The last race was sort of bad luck and good luck all over the place. I was hit a couple of times, I thought I damaged my front wing when Jüri basically broke down right at the exit of the chicane and stopped in front of me. Then I got hit after the last Safety Car restart and it was pretty scary to be honest. I had to cut the chicane and I don't know how I kept it in a straight line, but I did. I picked up a little bit of damage but was able to keep going. I just wish that last Safety Car didn't come out, that's all I'm going to say. I think it would have been difficult to get both Guanyu and Oscar in two laps, but I definitely think I could have had second.
FIA Formula 2: On the soft tyre at the end, was the pace still there or were they starting to fade just when that final Safety Car came out?
Ticktum: I think they had at least another three laps in them. Even when I first got out of the pits I didn't push absolutely flat out on them, because then you damage the surface on them. I knew I was going to have a lot more pace, so I was pushing hard, but not crazy hard. I think there was a still a bit of life in them for sure.
FIA Formula 2: Looking ahead at the last three rounds, Sochi next of course in two weeks, what are your objectives for the remainder of this season?
Ticktum: Look, it's been a pretty tough season for all sorts of reason, on and off track. It's not been the greatest year for me I have to say, very mentally challenging, and this weekend was just bad luck unfortunately. I was sort of sent out a little bit of the wrong time in Qualifying but that was a collective decision from myself and the team. I got hit off in the sprint race, and then your whole Saturday is in the bin. I scored no points, and that's just not reflective of our pace this weekend at all. I should have been scoring at least 30 points this weekend, I think. But back to the question, Carlin have been very strong at Sochi in the past, and Abu Dhabi too. We don't know what's going to happen in Jeddah, but it looks fast, flowing and difficult which would probably suit me. The objective now is probably top three in the Championship but I'm going to stop worrying about things too much. Sometimes a season pans out for you, sometimes it doesn't. This is another season that seems to be falling into 'doesn't' for me, but there we go. I'll do my best always.
FIA Formula 2: Well done today.