CEO Bruno Michel looks back at an eventful fifth round of the 2021 season and picks out his key topics from Monza.
Michel discusses Oscar Piastri’s title challenge, Robert Shwartzman’s determination and Trident’s first trip to the podium. He also revels in the exciting racing that Monza produced.
OSCAR PIASTRI HAS EXTENDED HIS LEAD
In the first four rounds of the season, four different drivers took pole position. In Monza, Oscar Piastri claimed a second pole in a row, once again proving that he is a worthy championship leader. On Sunday, he won the Feature Race in great fashion, sustaining pressure from title rival Guanyu Zhou.
Piastri needed that Sunday victory, which had eluded him in Silverstone, where he started from pole too. Looking at the Standings, he has scored in all but two races. His consistency is very impressive, and it’s only natural that he is currently the highest placed driver in the Championship.
He has extended his lead to 15 points over Zhou. The Chinese driver will have a slight edge over the Australian in the next round in Russia, as Piastri has never raced at the Sochi Autodrom. Will that be enough for Zhou to reclaim the top spot?
BACK ON TOP
I was pleased to see both Théo Pourchaire and Jehan Daruvala triumph on Saturday. The young Frenchman’s wrist seems to be completely healed, and it showed in the first Sprint Race. Starting from fourth on the reverse grid, he brilliantly carved his way to the top, pulling away from the chasing pack.
Sochi will also be a new venue for him, so it will be interesting to see what he can achieve there. As for Daruvala, he took his second F2 win, his first this season, which felt like a long time coming. He dominated Sprint Race 2 after a great getaway. Should he show more consistency, he could easily challenge the current Top five.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEKEND
Robert Shwartzman should be praised for his determination. When his rookie teammate claimed pole position, the Russian only qualified 12th. Instead of ruing this poor result, he put his head down and worked his way up to P6 in the first race. This gave him a better starting position for Sprint Race 2, in which he claimed third.
Having to start 12th again in the Feature Race, he produced a mature drive to claim another P6. He remains third in the Drivers’ Standings, just 21 points behind Guanyu Zhou. Our next event takes place in Sochi, where Shwartzman famously became Formula 3 Champion in 2019. He loves that track and will be highly motivated to perform well in front of his home crowd. I expect him to be quite strong there.
I would also like to highlight Dan Ticktum’s performance in the Feature Race. The Briton’s flamboyant character always shows in spades during the races. Lining up in eighth on the grid, he was the first driver on the alternate Prime/Option strategy. He took full advantage of a well-timed safety car period to pit from the lead and to re-join in 11th position. He was third at the flag, lamenting that a final Safety Car period ruined his chances to fight for more.
Christian Lundgaard should also be praised for his superb third place in Sprint Race 1, from P19 on the grid. He kept his nose clean and made some strong moves to claim another podium.
Last but not least, I was very happy to see Trident and Bent Viscaal take P2 in the second race. It’s the team’s first podium at this level since 2016, and it’s the Dutchman’s maiden F2 silverware. I know they have worked tirelessly to achieve this. It was truly deserved.
AN F2 CLASSIC
I was quite disappointed with the racing in Silverstone, so I was hoping that Round 5 would be much more entertaining. It’s true that Monza always delivers great racing, but so does Silverstone usually.
Fortunately, last weekend, we saw three amazing races in the temple of speed, with a lot of overtaking. The first race was a bit messier than the other two, but there was hardly a dull moment. It was good to have F2 back, and I cannot wait for the action to resume at Sochi in less than two weeks!