Thoughts from Ilott, Armstrong and Shwartzman

FIA Formula 2: Hello and welcome to the press conference with the top three finishers of the FIA Formula 2 Championship Feature Race here in Austria. We are joined by race winner Callum Ilott for UNI-Virtuosi, in second place is Marcus Armstrong for ART Grand Prix, and third is Robert Shwartzman for PREMA Racing. Callum, you made an incredible start, then had a real scrap with both Guanyu Zhou and Mick Schumacher. How does it feel after all that to take your first victory?

Callum Ilott: Obviously I feel really bad for Zhou because he pushed the whole way through the race. For him to have an issue like that when he was controlling the pace was a real shame for him and the team. But to come away with a win on the first weekend of the year is brilliant. All the waiting and preparation has paid off, so a big thanks to the team. The first lap was a big scrap. I slightly misjudged how the race would be at the beginning, so I was always over-pushing a bit, but you live and learn. I kept it on track and just kept going. Then at the end we had an amazing pace on the prime tyre and pulled away.

FIA Formula 2: I was going to say, I bet you couldn't believe how comfortable the final few laps were going to be based on how the rest of the race went - especially with after the pitstop, having to warm the tyres and fight again with those two?

Callum: It's strange obviously, because last year we always had really soft compounds, so you were always fighting to try and save the tyre. Always under the limit. Whereas in this race you were fighting to get the grip, to warm the tyres up, and then you were able to just push, push, push - or at least I was. That was really great for me considering that last year it was the opposite for me. It was a really good race.

FIA Formula 2: Congratulations, well done today. Marcus, P2 on your first start in Formula 2, and a fight with Robert Shwartzman for good measure as well. How good did that feel?

Marcus Armstrong: It was a good feeling to finally cross the finish line. The last stint definitely was not the easiest for a few reasons. Obviously, we boxed quite early to try and get out of the traffic. Yesterday we qualified out of position and we did predict that we'd have a pace advantage on those around us. We took a bit of a risk and it paid off in terms of strategy. Just like Callum said, I feel really bad for {Guanyu} Zhou because he looked really quick from where I was sitting. No doubt that he's going to be quick tomorrow. He'll be a factor for sure. A big thank you to ART. It's a good way to start because obviously we had very limited testing time this year in Bahrain, so every single lap that we do, the rookies, we're going to improve. It's a good way to start the season for sure.

FIA Formula 2: You mentioned the early pit stop. I guess it helps that you're sat here in the top three, but how challenging was it to make that strategy work?

Marcus: It wasn't as challenging as you might think actually. It was just box early and then try and leapfrog everyone else. As I've said, we thought we had a pace advantage so I more or less pushed. Obviously, I didn't go all-out because it is a very long stint, but to be honest it went exactly as I predicted. I expected to struggle in the last five or 10 laps, but I think that if I did it again, I probably wouldn't do anything differently because it worked quite well. I don't think we could have really got much more out of it.

FIA Formula 2: Well done today. Robert, moving on to you. Similar to Marcus really, a podium on your debut and some thrilling racing in there that was great to watch. How was it for you?

Robert Shwartzman: The result was good. I'm happy. We did a really good job. First race, first podium. The start was good, and I managed to get a position in front of me. Then we had some fighting and I overtook a couple of cars, so I was in P4 behind Mick {Schumacher}. I saw the leading group, so I was looking at what was happening, taking it easy and not really pushing the limit to try and keep the tyres. We tried to pit earlier than the group in front. I boxed but unfortunately it took a bit of time to change the front left - there were some issues, but it happens. That was the first pit stop so anything can happen. I went out and saw Marcus was in front with some well warmed-up tyres, so I knew that I had to warm mine up. I was doing that and then I started to catch Marcus. I saw {Guanyu} Zhou had an issue with the car so I'm sorry for him. Marcus was P3, I was P4 and I tried my best to pass him but Marcus still had quite good tyres, so his pace was quite good. the safety car was a bit of an issue for me, and for Marcus, with the restart. We don't have a lot of experience with the brakes. They were quite cold and we both missed the corner but managed to keep the car on the track, so everything was fine. For some reason Mick {Schumacher} had an issue, maybe he lost control of the car, and he went off. At that point I knew I was on the podium. I tried my best to get past Marcus but without taking much risk because I still have a good memory of what happened here last year. It's the first race. There was no point in risking our hard work. We've the rest of the season and I'll have different opportunities to be in front.

FIA Formula 2: You showed good pace today and got on the podium, continuing the momentum from last year. Does it give you confidence that you can mount a title challenge this season?

Robert: Yeah. It's more or less the same situation as I had last year in Formula 3. I have the same mentality. Nothing has changed. I'll work hard and do my best to improve myself and to always be on the podium, collecting as many points as possible.

FIA Formula 2: Well done today. Callum, just returning to you with a similar question really. You've got a year's experience under your belt now and starting the year in perfect fashion. Do you feel like the title is the target this season?

Callum: Yeah, obviously you can't go in without that mentality. With the experience you do pick up on some things quicker, but with the brake and stuff, I think everyone had to get back into the rhythm of driving the car anyway. It helps, but we'll see once these guys get the little tricks under their belt, they should be completely on it. It will be a good push to the end.