Marcus Armstrong scored a career high Qualifying position in Formula 2 on Friday, even though says he didn’t do anything “massively different from any other race weekend.” For one reason or another, everything just came together for the ART Grand Prix ace, who is set to line up in fourth for the Feature Race on Saturday.
The 2019 Formula 3 vice-champion has endured a tough debut season in the top tier of junior motorsport. Armstrong initially showed plenty of promise, taking two podiums in the opening two rounds, but he has failed to score a point since then.
“For whatever reason this year, it has not gone our way,” he admitted. “Especially in qualifying, so it was nice to have some performance out there.
“I can't say what I did was massively different from any other race weekend, but for one reason or another we are starting 10 positions higher. It was a happy surprise and I am happy to take it. I actually made a mistake on my qualifying lap, so pole was on the table. It was a good way to start the weekend.”
Lining up on the second row, Armstrong will be in direct competition with the Championship leader, Callum Ilott, who starts third. While, his Danish teammate Christian Lundgaard starts three places further up the grid, from pole.
The Kiwi says that it’s “good to be back where we should be,” and is relishing the chance to fight with the likes of Ilott and Lundgaard in the Feature Race, as well as Dan Ticktum, who starts P2.
“I think it is going to be a bit of a learning experience,” he continued. “We haven’t started this high up in a Formula 2 race, so it’s good that we finally get this under our belts. It is something that I feel I have been capable of doing all season.
“I think it is going to be brilliant to be out at the front with the guys who are fighting for the championship. I know that I have nothing to lose, and they certainly do, so it is going to be fun.”
The Mugello circuit in F2 machinery is a brand-new challenge for the field, but Armstrong has done his research. The Kiwi is aiming to be as prepared as possible ahead of the Feature Race, but he admits that it’s going to be “very tricky.”
“The circuit itself is very abrasive,” he explained. “It is going to promote the classic F2 deg fest. It will be interesting, especially to watch from the outside. I think tyre management will be very important, but at the same time we need to be on the right strategy and optimise it.
“There are gravel traps here, and not a run-off area, which means that a safety car is more likely. When it comes down to that, it’s obviously out of our control, but in those situations, luck can play a part.”