THOUGHTS FROM SHWARTZMAN, SCHUMACHER AND ZHOU
FIA Formula 2: Hello and welcome to the press conference with the top three finishers in today's FIA Formula 2 Sprint Race here in Belgium. We are joined by race winner Robert Shwartzman for PREMA Racing, in second place is Mick Schumacher, also for PREMA Racing, and third is Guanyu Zhou for UNI-Virtuosi. Robert, your third win of the season and it all seemed to fall into place for you today. Just how was the race from your perspective?
Robert Shwartzman: Finally, I got a good start! Yesterday was not so good. A good launch and straight away, from Turn 1, I was in P3. I didn't want to take much risk fighting with the guys in front. After, I saw they were quite aggressive with each other, and to be honest I didn't want to be involved. I was trying to save the tyres a bit in the first lap, and was generally not pushing hard because there was no DRS. I just took it a bit easy with them, and in the end they touched. They had a collision in Turn 6, I think. I used that as an opportunity to get past both of them and managed to stay around the outside of Dan (Ticktum) in Turn 7. After the Safety Car restart, my target was to have a good restart so he couldn't use the slipstream to pass me back, and just to have a good pace. At the end, the pace was really good, with the fastest lap time. Throughout the whole race I had really good pace, and finally the car had a really good balance. We worked really hard as a team, always searching for issues because every time something wasn't going in the way I wanted it to. We had a debrief yesterday and we finally managed to put everything together, and the result can show that.
FIA Formula 2: You mention the fastest lap time there, you got the extra points for that as well. Winning this race, and with Callum (Ilott) not scoring any points, you now take the Championship lead. Has it been the perfect day for you?
Robert: It's a good day. In the Championship, especially in this championship where there's a lot of competitive drivers, everything is moving all around. Therefore, I'm not really focused on the standings, even though it's a good position. I'm just mainly focused on the same way to work really hard, to prepare the car well for me so we can achieve good results, and actually pick up even better points.
FIA Formula 2: Well done today. Mick, moving on to you. From sixth place up to second, and another double podium as well. You must be delighted with your weekend's work?
Mick Schumacher: Yeah definitely. I think the team managed to give me a car which was consistent on every part of the track, and allowed me to follow quite closely behind people while fighting. Obviously here, where tyre management is a part of the game, it wasn't easy to try and fight hard and get the positions, then try and get the clean air. The moment I got the position behind Daniel (Ticktum), my rear tyres were quite on the limited, so I had to pace myself. I knew he had a problem with the front wing, so I knew my time was going to come. I just had to line him up properly and I did. After I got past, I was really just trying to manage the tyres and survive until the end of the race. Looking at the pace, there was more possible. I think with a better start it would have been easier to fight with the top guys, but nevertheless P2 is really good. A good amount of points, in both races, and very good consistency... I can just carry this through to the next weekend.
FIA Formula 2: You mentioned consistency, that's three podiums in a row for you, and a PREMA one-two as well. Is there any frustration that there's not yet been a win this season?
Mick: In my mind we've already had a few races where the win was possible, and it was in my hands, but obviously circumstances did take action. I'm very focused on my points scoring, which is the main thing, and being consistent, as I said, from race weekend to race weekend. If I do that consistently the race win will eventually come to me.
FIA Formula 2: Thank you very much. Zhou, moving on to you. A good drive for you as well up to third place. There was a lot of action for you in that race, just talk us through it from your perspective.
Guanyu Zhou: Firstly, I don't think the start was great. I had too much wheelspin off the line, which put us in a pretty bad position. The first few laps we had the incident and were behind the Safety Car. After the Safety Car we seemed to struggle a bit with the grip in general. That's why Mick was able to make his way forward. After that, I tried to pass Dan (Ticktum), we went side-by-side into the left kink before the Bus Stop, and he fully pushed me off onto the Astroturf and I had a big bump which was pretty dangerous. The lap after I managed to pull a move off that I knew was really necessary, especially to do it Sector 2. I knew I had time to get a good gap before the DRS. After I passed him, it was similar to what Mick said. I continued to pace myself with the tyres. Yesterday was a bit confusing with me and my engineer, with the pit stop where we didn't really maximise everything, but today the speed seemed to be quite good in the second half of the race and we need to focus on the beginning where we were struggling a bit with the grip.
FIA Formula 2: This season has looked like a fight between UNI-Virtuosi and PREMA in the Teams Championship. Do these guys look like the guys to beat right now?
Zhou: Yeah, looking at the standings they're definitely one of the most consistent, or strongest, competitors of ours through the season so far. This weekend, as a team, we've been struggling in Qualifying where we're used to that being our strongest point. There's a lot of things to be considered when we have the data. The temperature and everything is quite cold here, and it will be a different story in Monza. Hopefully, we can get back to the momentum we had in the early few races, where me and Callum (Ilott) were both strong in Quali and the races. I'm happy having the podium today, and to get these points in the Championship.
FIA Formula 2: Thank you very much. Robert, just returning to you. This is your first win in 10 races, but your third of the season, and there's now 31 points covering the top five drivers. What do you think is going to be the key to this title fight from here on out?
Robert: Consistency, I would say. To always be up in the top five positions every race. Do good Qualifying... Basically, that's the key. We've had a lot of unlucky moments this year. We lost a lot of points, especially in both Silverstone races. There were a few more races where we could have gained even more points. But that's why this Championship is so interesting. Everybody has their own moments, the good and the bad. It's very important to minimise the bad moments and have as many good moments as possible. I'm also getting slowly used to the car, especially the Qualifying pace, which is really good and giving me confidence. The step we made in the race today, with the tyre management, was also quite positive. We need to just analyse with the team what's good and what's bad, not to make mistakes in the future, and just deliver good results. That is the key.