CEO Bruno Michel reflects on a weekend in Le Castellet that served up plenty of drama and gave us our 10th winner of the season.
Michel talks Iwasa's victory, Carlin's mixed fortunes and what to watch out for during the final race weekend prior to the summer break.
AN IMPRESSIVE TENTH RACE WINNER
Rookie driver Ayumu Iwasa has showed some strong pace since the start of the season, snatching a front row start for the Feature Race at Imola and claiming two podium finishes in the Barcelona and Silverstone Sprint Races. Last time out, at Le Castellet, the Red Bull junior missed pole position by 0.006s. When his team informed him over the radio, he could not believe it and was quite frustrated.
On Sunday, he drove a mature and controlled race to take a maiden F2 win, crossing the line 8.6s ahead of second-placed Théo Pourchaire. Overall, Iwasa scored 28 points in France, his best result to date, moving up to ninth in the Championship. Up until Round 9, Iwasa was chasing after consistency. Let’s see if he can keep the momentum this week at Budapest, a track where he grabbed a win in F3 last year.
CARLIN’S UPS AND DOWNS
Another rookie shone during the Qualifying session at Paul Ricard, with Logan Sargeant claiming pole position – his second in 2022. He thought his lap was not perfect, but it was good enough for fastest lap on Friday afternoon. Carlin’s good performance did not stop there, as Liam Lawson took the win in the Sprint Race. The New Zealander also made one of the boldest – if not the boldest – overtaking manoeuvres of the weekend along the way, on Marcus Armstrong, a move that gave him a fright as he joked after the race.
This victory helped Carlin move up to first in the Championship on Saturday. Unfortunately, Sunday was more challenging for the team with Sargeant retiring in the pits. The British squad still scored some solid points with Lawson’s sixth place.
A ROLLERCOASTER OF EMOTIONS FOR ART GRAND PRIX
It was a hard start to its home race weekend for ART Grand Prix, as Frederik Vesti was unable to achieve one lap in Free Practice. The young Dane went into Qualifying a bit blind, having to guess some of his braking points. He still took P3, one tenth off the polesitter! On Saturday, all eyes in the grandstands were on local hero Théo Pourchaire, who was starting from sixth. The young Frenchman put his head down to finish third, but he was later demoted to seventh after he received a five second time penalty.
On Sunday, the ART duo drove a solid race to claim second and third place, Pourchaire ahead of Vesti. With a total of 39 points added to its tally, the French team has taken the lead in the Team Standings for the first time this season.
BLEU, BLANC, ROUGE
All teams are always extra motivated when they get to race at home. It was the case for DAMS and ART Grand Prix last weekend at Le Castellet. In front of thousands of French fans, waving the tricolour flag, both teams regaled the crowd with an all-French podium on Sunday. The images of them standing together, spontaneously singing the French anthem along with the spectators was a very nice touch.
SUMMER BREAK LOOMING
The teams wasted no time to pack up and make their way to Budapest for this week’s race weekend. Ahead of the tenth round of the 2022 campaign, Felipe Drugovich maintains a comfortable gap over his closest rival Théo Pourchaire, with 39 points. The Brazilian’s latest weekends have been less successful than the earlier rounds, but he keeps scoring points consistently and remains out of trouble. Meanwhile, Pourchaire has reclaimed P2 from Logan Sargeant, whose mechanical woes prevented him from adding solid points to his tally. Twenty-two points cover P4 to P9.
The Teams' Championship is even tighter, with ART Grand Prix, MP Motorsport and Carlin being neck and neck, whilst PREMA Racing and Hitech Grand Prix remain within touching distance. Then next round will be crucial for all, ahead of the intense triple header on the other side of the summer break.