Felipe Drugovich’s transformation from unlikely underdog to serious championship contender has been the feel-good story of Formula 2 this season.
The MP Motorsport rookie defied the odds in Round 1 to take a Sprint Race victory on his debut weekend, and now has the chance to add a Feature Race to his collection, when he starts from pole on Saturday afternoon.
The Brazilian says that his form, and yesterday’s pole position, is a result of his and his team’s hard work and determination since making the switch from Formula 3.
“It certainly felt amazing,” he elated. “It was an amazing lap for me, and the car was pretty much perfect. We made big improvements for the second stint in qualy, and I think everything felt amazing.
“First lap - boom. That was the lap. I'm really thankful to the team. We worked really hard from the last three weeks to realise what we had to improve for this weekend, and I think we've gone in the right direction.”
Drugovich surprised on his Qualifying debut by taking a front row start, but his results on Fridays tailed off slightly after that, as he managed 10th and P18 in Rounds 2 and 3.
The Brazilian still managed to find the pace in the races though and achieved a top five finish in the Budapest Feature Race. He says he has learned a lot from those sessions, which culminated in the result on Friday in Silverstone.
“I don't think we really lost performance after (Qualifying in Round1),” he explained. “We just haven't been very lucky, or I haven't put my laps together, but the car was maybe a little bit difficult which didn't help. I think we made some improvements, and I, for sure, improved my driving.
“I knew what I had to do to put everything together for today. The car was amazing, as we analysed everything from the first weekends. It all came together today, so I'm really happy.
It was an amazing lap for me, and the car was pretty much perfect. We made big improvements for the second stint in qualy, and I think everything felt amazing.
“We've built up a lot of experience. In the other Feature races I don't think we really maximised our performance or our potential. As we've seen, we've been a lot faster and a lot quicker in the Sprint races, but in the end, it's been the same car on the same track.”
One of the most remarkable things about Drugovich is his mental attitude. The Brazilian’s ethos remains the same since joining F2: his focus hasn’t shifted, and his feet remain firmly on the ground.
The Brazilian is concentrating on learning his trade in the top tier of junior motorsport, refusing to pile on the pressure despite his inspiring start to life in the Championship.
“Our potential is pretty good” he continued. “We just need to maximise strategy and everything, but at the end it's still a rookie year for me. Everything is still new. Of course, it's easier in qualy to put a lap together than to keep the tyres and all the other stuff.
“It's normal to struggle a little bit in F2 in the first year. I'm really happy with it so far, and hopefully tomorrow we can put everything together.”