Thoughts from Iwasa, Nissany and Pourchaire
FIA Formula 2: Welcome to the top three Qualifiers for the FIA Formula 2 Feature Race here at Yas Marina Circuit. On pole, for the second time in his rookie season, Ayumu Iwasa for DAMS. Qualifying P2, Roy Nissany, also for DAMS and in P3, Théo Pourchaire for ART Grand Prix. Ayumu, coming to you first, after a long break since Monza, that's a great way to come back, isn't it?
Ayumu Iwasa: I'm quite happy about this session. I was working quite a lot with the team during the break, and I could show our potential at the end of the season. I think that's the biggest point. Already from the beginning of this week, I had quite good speed, I just had to adjust my driving for the softs in Qualifying. I was not doing well during Qualifying, but I guess like at the Hungaroring, I could do a good lap. I think this kind of situation is the biggest improvement in my driving so I need to improve it in the future, but anyway I'm really happy with this result because Roy is P2, so I think almost perfect for us and DAMS.
FIA Formula 2: You were also fastest in Free Practice this morning; you said after that session that you felt like there was still time to find in the car but then you sounded surprised to be on pole. Was that the case, or could you feel it coming together in that final lap?
Iwasa: I was feeling that the car had the potential to get a P1, but I was just missing in the lap time because of my mistakes, and I couldn't pull it all together. That's why I was struggling at the end of the session. Like at the Hungaroring it was almost the same situation, I could change my mindset. I was not nervous before the last push I was just thinking about my improvement during the warm-up lap.
FIA Formula 2: You already mentioned, it's a DAMS 1-2, a fantastic result for the team. Have you found some extra pace this weekend, or is it all about tyre management?
Iwasa: I was starting to have a feeling for the tyre management in Free Practice, because I was struggling with this. For sure Abu Dhabi is really hot, so I needed to be careful not to get overheating on the tyres. I think in Qualifying I could manage it quite well. I think my management was good, but the car was especially quite good to get a good lap in at the end.
FIA Formula 2: Well done again Ayumu and congratulations on pole. Roy coming to you next you left it quite late to put in that lap. How good did it feel?
Roy Nissany: Well, it was suddenly surprising, even more, to have Ayu on top. I have to admit when my engineer told me on my radio it was P1 I replied 'repeat please!' Then he said ‘sorry it's P2 because Ayumu is P1’. It was surprising, and it was a late lap. Our car was very good and I'm happy I was able to put it all in one lap. It seems like the hard work we've been putting in on this time off has paid off because it really was hard work.
FIA Formula 2: Was it a team strategy to be the last ones over the line? You both put in your fastest laps very late in the session.
Nissany: More like circumstances rather than strategy because we are the last one in the pits. At the beginning of the weekend, we thought this might be some kind of disadvantage, everyone wants to be the first one out of the pits to avoid any events. Luckily nothing interfered with us, and we were able to put in the lap. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, and luckily things played to our side today.
FIA Formula 2: Finally, what do you think is possible in the Sprint Race tomorrow, obviously starting slightly further back in the pack?
Nissany: We have the pace this weekend, and we trust the team to give us a great strategy and a great car again so I'm optimistic.
FIA Formula 2: Thank you, Roy, well done again. Théo, coming to you, well done on the result, it was provisional pole right up until the last minute. Do you think there was any time left on the table right at the end?
Théo Pourchaire: First of all, I'm happy with P3, it's not a bad result. It's a good place for the Feature Race, and also for the Sprint Race tomorrow. It's a good last Qualifying of the season. I was close to pole; I made a little mistake at Turn 6 but I don't think that cost us the pole. DAMS was really fast today, we have to work hard tonight to see what they did. They were really fast, and I was looking at the big screen on the exit of Turn 5 and I saw Nissany and Iwasa in front of me I was a bit sad, but it's life and P3 is good!
FIA Formula 2: Like you say, still a great result. How eager are you to end this season on a high?
Pourchaire: For sure that's my goal! And we have the Teams' Championship to win, I have to secure the vice-Champion title so it's an important weekend. I will give my best until the end. I'm happy, it's a good start to the weekend now the main focus is the races. They are very important.
FIA Formula 2: Well done Théo.