THOUGHTS FROM GHIOTTO, ILOTT AND SCHUMACHER
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 Hungary. We are joined by race winner Luca Ghiotto for Hitech Grand Prix, in second place is Callum Ilott for UNI-Virtuosi, and third is Mick Schumacher for PREMA Racing. Luca, what a race! One of only two cars in the whole field not to stop. It must have been so tense! Just how was it inside the car for you?
Luca Ghiotto: I couldn't see Callum, but it was like he was behind me for the whole race basically! I just trying to get a gap to him and do my best. It wasn't bad. I thought many cars were going to stop, but not almost all of them! For us it worked well. Just. One more lap and Callum would have taken P1 for sure. Sometimes you need a bit of luck in this sport, and today we had some definitely.
FIA Formula 2: Was it always the plan to go with that strategy, or did you have to make that call after seeing how the start played out? When did you make it, and were you fully committed to it as well?
Luca: I was the first car on the grid with the medium tyres...
Callum Ilott: I was on them.
Luca: In front of me? You had mediums?
Callum: Yeah! On pole!
Luca: Oh, my mistake! Well, after I overtook two cars and I was P2 I thought that this could work. I was in clean air basically, for the whole race, because Callum got a good gap in front of me. I was not really fighting for any of the first laps let's say. When Callum stopped, I got the call from the pits to decide on Plan A or Plan B, and I decided to stick with Plan A. At that moment I felt more confident on that side. The tyres felt alright. They were okay at that moment. As I said, it just worked out well for us at the end.
FIA Formula 2: Congratulations, it was great to watch. Well done. Callum, moving on to you. Starting from pole and coming so close on that final lap, was it exciting or was it frustrating to finish P2?
Callum Ilott: It was a great race. I was loving it, but also it was frustrating to have it so close to that point. We didn't plan to box at all. We had a really bad pit stop, in that I think the front left didn't come off. When I went out, I was on brand new tyres, because I didn't on the pit stop, so I was locking up all over the place. It was a really bad lap there, waiting for the tyres to get some heat. Other than that, it was a great start, a great first lap. I just cleared away and had a good gap. I was managing the tyres. I don't know what's going on at the moment. This year they're kind of up and down. They were fine and then they just dropped. At that point, I think within two laps we calculated it and made the decision to box. Honestly, the options held longer than I thought. It was getting close. They kept telling me, "Four seconds per lap... You're gaining." It went down something like 16 seconds, 12 seconds, eight seconds, four seconds, and I was hoping to hear a 'three seconds' or something like that so I could get him in the last sector. He made a mistake in the first corner, so I thought I was going to get him, but I think he put everything he had left into it and just managed to stay ahead. Fair play to them. I didn't think it would work. If they'd have done the alternate strategy, I still think he still would have been ahead because of our pit stop. But what a race it was. It was good fun.
FIA Formula 2: Let's just talk about the first and last laps. You were over three seconds clear at the end of Lap 1. Was that planned or part of a strategy? Then, when you could see Luca in that final lap, what was that feeling like?
Callum: The plan was to try and get the best start possible. I don't know how I got off the line that well on the wet part, but it worked. I guess I'm quite good at sensing the conditions when it's a bit iffy like that. To be fair, I was pushing but I didn't make any mistakes given the conditions. The plan was to get a nice gap and just manage the tyres, which I did. I was going to struggle a bit in the last few laps, and given I dropped a bit earlier than Luca it was time to box. It was just at the right time and we made it work, but the first lap was a good one.
FIA Formula 2: And then the final lap as you could see the car getting closer? Did it ever feel like you might be able to do something?
Callum: Definitely. When I saw him lock up into Turn 1 it definitely felt like I was going to have it, but he managed to put it together in Sector 2 and Sector 3. I was struggling more and more with the front left. I think I dropped two seconds that lap to the lap before, so I was on the limit as well anyway. If we'd have done something slightly different, maybe it would have worked, but it is what it is. It was good fun and good points anyway.
FIA Formula 2: Great entertainment to watch. Thanks, well done. Mick, moving on to you. You said when you left this room yesterday, "see you tomorrow". You were right. Back-to-back podiums. Are you happy with your return this weekend?
Mick Schumacher: Yeah, it's obviously a good amount of points which is just what we needed. The team did a great job to analyse the situation and say, "okay, now we push, because we know we're going to box." I managed to create a little gap again to Nikita Mazepin behind me, and catch Luca, therefore my plan was to box. So we pitted and changed the tyres, and similarly to Callum, we didn't bed the tyres in. We had totally fresh and clean tyres coming out of the pits. That was definitely a challenge, because parts, especially in the pit lane, were still wet. When coming into the first corner I learnt from the mistake Robert (Shwartzman) did in the first race - locking up like crazy. I anticipated that a bit, and that gave me the opportunity to bring the tyres in gradually, which then helped me throughout the race.
FIA Formula 2: I think you had a bit of a slow pit stop as well, but then when you came out there was a lot of overtaking. What was your favourite? The one with Louis Delétraz at the final corner stands out as a bit of a surprise.
Mick: Yeah. Basically, I wasn't planning on losing the position to Louis, because obviously every battle takes out life from the tyres. Unfortunately, with the slow pit stop, we dropped behind him. Then we had to fight our way through again which cost us a few laps of tyre life at the end. Nevertheless, the overtaking was good going into the last corner. He was battling with another car, Giuliano Alesi, and then I got Giuliano as well on the straight with the DRS. I think that saved me a lot of time and gave the opportunity to have clean air and look after my tyres from there.
FIA Formula 2: Congratulations, well done this weekend. Luca, returning to you. Obviously, it's a new team with Hitech. How impressed have you been to have such a competitive weekend as a team this early in the season?
Luca: I'm really surprised honestly, because in three days we've basically turned things around completely compared to Austria. We had a terrible race in the wet in Spielberg, and in qualifying here we were quick. In the Sprint Race in Austria we struggled a lot with tyre management, but today the car managed the tyres better. It's completely the opposite. As I've already said on Friday, they are doing a great job. They are working really hard. We can only be proud of the work we've done so far because it's such a high-level field this year. To be able to get these results already, so early in the season, is a good thing. And with both cars. That proves that we're doing a mega job.