Thoughts from Pourchaire, Shwartzman and Piastri
FIA Formula 2: Many congratulations to the top three qualifiers for the FIA Formula 2 Feature Race here in Monaco. Starting in third place will be Oscar Piastri for PREMA, in second Robert Shwartzman also for PREMA and our polesitter Théo Pourchaire for ART Grand Prix. Théo, what a fabulous lap, and in Group A as well when the track wasn't at its best. Talk us through the lap, how good was it and how bad were the track conditions?
Théo Pourchaire: I don't know if Group A was better than the second group, but for sure I just disconnected my brain during three laps today. I wasn't super confident during Free Practice this morning and I wanted to start on the front of the grid, so I pushed the limit of the car and it worked. I'm super happy, I want to thank the team, the car was amazing, and they did a great job. I also want to thank my family because it's my home race, and I know they are there watching me in real life this time. I also want to thank Sauber, because I am super happy to be on pole for the first time in F2!
FIA Formula 2: As you say Theo, you're from Cannes just down the road. With this being something of a home race, does it make it that much sweeter for you?
Pourchaire: For sure, and it's Monaco! Monaco is very special, and it's my home race. I know it's not France, but I live about 30 minutes away from here, so it means a lot to me.
FIA Formula 2: After such a disrupted Practice session this morning with three red flags, how much of an unknown was it coming into Qualifying?
Pourchaire: It was not easy because it's my first time in Monaco today. We were P14 in Free Practice, I was not super confident, and I had a lot of traffic as well. Coming into Qualifying I just wanted to do the best job possible, and to also enjoy it as well, because it's not every day that you can drive around Monaco in Formula 2. So, I just enjoyed it! It was amazing, and I got a pole so I am very happy.__
FIA Formula 2: There's a lot of racing to be done between now and the Feature Race on Saturday and you're going to be starting in P10 for our first race tomorrow. Is that quite a daunting prospect, being right in the middle of the pack?
Pourchaire: Yes, I think it's going to be interesting starting P10 in Monaco, it will be my first ever race here. I hope that I will not damage the car, and I will try to bring some points home and try to start P1 for Saturday's Sprint Race 2 as well.
FIA Formula 2: Well done Théo, I'm sure that there is a massive smile behind the mask there. Many congratulations to you as well Robert. This is your joint best Qualifying in Formula 2 so a hugely encouraging day?
Robert Shwartzman: Well, it's not the best, the best was in Barcelona last year, if we're talking about general F2 Qualifying because I was P2 in Barcelona too. But still a very, very good Qualifying. I'm happy, because it's a good position to start, in Monaco especially the Qualifying means everything. Théo is going to start P10 I'm going to start P9 tomorrow so it's going to be an interesting race where we can feel the car in race mood, because today was full quali mode with full pushing. Let's see how we go, both of the other guys did a really good job, so for sure we're going to have some fighting but as we all know in Monaco it quite difficult to overtake. I'll try my best and we'll see how things go!
FIA Formula 2: Just talk us through your laps, how good was the car? Do you feel there was more to come?
Shwartzman: Well in Free Practice the car was very good, and our pace was very good. In Qualifying the car was good as well, just maybe a slight change as our session was very hot. Free Practice in the morning was a bit more chilly, so it was probably a bit better for the balance. Now with the warmer temperatures the car was a bit messy. To be honest, I don't really know the difference between Group A and Group B. I think it was quite similar, because it was the same sort of temperature, maybe slightly warmer for us, but there was a bit more grip after the guys in Group A. So, I think it's quite balanced with how the pace was. I didn't manage to put in the lap, I did a good lap, but it wasn't the lap. I made a few mistakes and that's probably where I lost the most time, but it's something to learn and I'm still happy to be in P2.
FIA Formula 2: Robert you say there might have been a little bit left on the table, but after such a frustrating opening round in Bahrain this front row start must come as a bit of a relief?
Shwartzman: To be honest, we had really good pace in Bahrain as well, we just had a slight issue in Qualifying which completely compromised our starting position. Feeling wise I think we would have been in pretty much the same place in Bahrain. I knew that the pace and speed was there, but unfortunately a few mistakes and issues were coming through, which compromised the results. But as I said, generally the Qualifying pace, and the race pace especially, was competitive. So I was confident coming here and I just knew that I needed to do a good lap and qualify as high as possible. Unfortunately, I didn;t manage to do a perfect lap, but it was still a good lap to start P2.
FIA Formula 2: Oscar coming to you now, many congratulations, you continue your strong start to the year with this third on the grid here in Monaco. Talk us through the session and your fastest lap.
Oscar Piastri: It probably took be a little bit to build into the session to be honest, we had a pretty strong Free Practice in P5 and then I saved myself with my final lap in Qualifying. Very happy to be P2 in the group and P3 overall. I think the aim of the game here in Monaco is to qualify as high as you can and then keep your nose clean for the rest of the weekend. I'd say we've done a very good job of that. We've also made good progress from Qualifying in Bahrain as well, so it's an upwards trajectory which is nice.
FIA Formula 2: Oscar, can you just describe the experience of Monaco in a Formula 2 car?
Piastri: It's a lot different to a Formula Renault car I can tell you that! Compared to Formula Renault especially it's a much bigger car, much faster, and the breaking power is very different. It's still a very daunting challenge and I'm sure everyone felt like everything is coming at you at 1000 kph in those first couple laps of Free Practice. But it is an awesome feeling, I'm super happy that we managed to come back here this year after last year out. It's just awesome to be back here and I'm loving it so far.
FIA Formula 2: Great stuff and well done again to all three of you!