It was a case of what could have been for Roman Stanek in Round 4’s Sprint Race. The Trident driver’s first introduction to racing around the Baku City Circuit sent him diving deep into the chaos, but he says the reward of maiden Formula 2 points was a bittersweet ending.
Two nail-biting moments almost spelt disaster for Stanek’s race. Firstly, whilst battling with Enzo Fittipaldi over ninth on Lap 7, the Czech driver attempted to get the job done around the outside of Turn 1.
Unfortunately for him, the lack of grip sent him wide, brushing the barriers and causing him to lose out to Arthur Leclerc – a mistake that Stanek believes cost him a shot at a potential top three finish.
“It was a good race, I enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I made one mistake with the overtake on Enzo, which maybe cost me a podium. Basically, I just braked too late and here once you’re off line, you completely lose the grip, so that’s something I really have to remember for next time.
“In the mid to the end of the race we lacked a lot of pace, so we also have to look into it. Then in the end, there was a huge crash. I was lucky that I scored one point, but I’m not the type of guy that takes one point and he’s happy. I need to score much more points to be able to place myself in a good position at the end of the year.”
The second heart-in-mouth moment came courtesy of being in the wrong place at the wrong time on the second Safety Car restart. Whilst the leaders descended into chaos, Stanek had his own brush with calamity after Invicta Virtuosi Racing’s Jack Doohan spun in front of him.
Left with nowhere to go, the Trident driver admitted he thought it was all over. Although he was narrowly able to get through it unscathed, teammate Clément Novalak and Juan Manuel Correa were able to jump him in the order, forcing him to settle for ninth.
“It was crazy because on the restart everyone was suffering with no grip on the tyres. I saw him braking super late and he was smoking all over, and then he spun. I said ‘bloody hell’ because I was not able to go on the outside and because when someone’s spun you have to go on the inside.
“So, I went on the outside and then I was like ‘okay, he’s going to hit me’ and I took the outside line. All the guys overtook me up the inside, but I managed to not have any contact. We could have been much higher, but that’s how racing is – things happen.”
Whilst a post-race penalty for Isack Hadjar eventually promoted him into the points, Stanek says he’s not satisfied with just getting off the mark. Hungry for more after tasting success in Formula 3 last year, he is dogged in his determination to get himself back to fighting at the front of the field.
“Last year, I scored a lot of points and I finished P5 in the Championship in F3. I came to F2 and after four rounds I have my first point, so it’s a bit of mixed feelings because I feel from my side, I’m really putting in the effort. I moved to Italy, I’m training myself, I do whatever I can, and the results are not coming.
“This is a part of the life, and I will never give up! I will never give up in anything that I do, so we just keep trying. I am not in the position that I should be, I know it, but we are working on it. I feel it’s coming.”
There will be more variables at play to throw up the order in Sunday’s Feature Race, with the use of both the supersoft and medium Pirelli tyres throwing the potential strategies wide open. Anticipating even more pandemonium across the 29 laps, Stanek reckons that if he can get his tyres under control and make it through the opening phase from P12, then another points finish could be to play for.
“We have to find the right balance with the team and also, here the tyre is degrading quite a lot. So, we have to find a compromise to fix that for tomorrow. If we fix this one, it’ll be much easier for me and I will be faster.
“The race will be about surviving the first few laps because it doesn’t really look like it on TV, but when you go around the 90-degree corner with so many cars, you go super slow. But it feels as though someone is going to hit you because there’s just too many cars around. Then with good pace, we will be able to move forward and hopefully, we will do a good strategy and pit stop. We’re aiming to gain places.”