Thoughts from Bearman, Iwasa and Pourchaire
FIA Formula 2: Many congratulations to the top three finishers for the FIA Formula 2 Feature Race here in Monza. In third place, Théo Pourchaire for ART Grand Prix, in second place, Ayumu Iwasa for DAMS and taking his fourth win of the 2023 season, our winner, Oliver Bearman, for PREMA Racing. Ollie, tremendous race for you, you had so much pace throughout, was it ever in doubt in your mind?
Oliver Bearman: A lot of times actually. Every Safety Car you have at this track is always a question mark when you are leading, it's the last thing you want. I remember driving around and you can see the screens for the spectators, whenever there was a car off I was just praying that they managed to get back on but I think I had four SC restarts and they are always tricky around here. We managed it really well and like you said we had really good pace as well.
FIA Formula 2: You did manage those restarts well. Five Safety Cars today! Tell us a little bit more about the decision-making process going on in the cockpit about when to go.
Bearman: For starters the first one we boxed. It was quite clear, after Lap 6 you box and do the pitstop straight away. Knowing what we know we probably could have stayed out for another one of the Safety Cars. Every time I just wanted to make sure the others got the dirty air through the final corner and I could have the clean air and it seemed to work every time. It worked every time so I kept doing the same thing.
FIA Formula 2: What about those medium tyres that you had for the remainder of the race having pitted at that early Safety Car on Lap 7. How did they hold up?
Bearman: Pretty well while driving, the problem is that during the Safety Car you lose a lot of temperature. Especially on the final restart the Safety Car is quite slow and the tyre is at its worst state. It's quite hard to fire up the tyres. I was quite scared of Ayumu on the super softs a couple of places back.
FIA Formula 2: Final one from me. Describe what it was like at that very special moment on the podium with it being PREMA's home race... you're a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy. To do it all at Monza, how did it feel?
Bearman: It felt really amazing, one of my best feelings, one of my best wins. To do it in front of the home crowd, it's also kind of my home race because I live out here. To see all the support from the fans even for an F2 race was really amazing.
FIA Formula 2: Ollie, very well done, thank you. Ayumu coming to you now, the alternative strategy worked very well. You were up 13 places from the grid, you seemed extremely happy after the race.
Ayumu Iwasa: Honestly I was not expecting this difficult race today. From our place on the grid we had to take a bit of a risk, of course we were expecting a Safety Car at the beginning but we knew we had ok pace yesterday. We were trusting our pace, so whatever we did on the strategy we were just doing our job and then Safety Car came out a lot. We were trying to react well enough, and it worked quite a lot so that's why we were so happy to get this result because we could show our performance.
FIA Formula 2: You had so much pace at the end of the race as well. Talk us through the move on Théo.
Iwasa: Honestly, I had better grip right after the Safety Car restart but on the second lap already my tyre was losing a lot of grip so I was trying to hold my position, and not to make easy mistakes. I was focusing on my driving and then the Safety Car came so it was another lucky point.
FIA Formula 2: It's been a difficult couple of races for you recently, how much of a relief is it to have the car pace back where it was today?
Iwasa: Apart from in Qualifying we always have pace and speed. Our Qualifying performance is always missing and then we are struggling to get a good position in the race. I think we have to improve that performance but the race is a race, and we need to do our job in the race. We did that, and that's why we could perform like this today.
FIA Formula 2: Very well done to you, a great result for the Championship today you're now 25 points in the lead with 39 left on the table. How much did that dominate your thoughts during the race today.
Théo Pourchaire: For sure I was thinking about this a lot, especially when my engineer told me that Vesti was out of the race after Lap 1. I took a decent start, after that the slipstream effect was huge so I tried to defend into the second chicane but lost the position. I was P2 basically the whole race, it was a good race, bit there was a bit too much understeer on my car which means after restart I was struggling quite a lot but overall I was pretty happy as it's a huge day for the Championship.
FIA Formula 2: After Ollie got past you in that opening lap how confident were you of getting back into the lead or did the understeer you just talked about rule that out?
Pourchaire: I was confident I could try something on the prime tyres but unfortunately as I said it was difficult for me. He did some really good restarts as well. I was struggling in the first two braking zones and the first two chicanes. Also on the last restart I knew Ayumu had the super soft tyres and I tried everything but on the first few corners he was a lot better and he did a good move too, so congrats to them.
FIA Formula 2: Well Théo, you now have a 25-point lead in the Championship but we have a two month break until the final round. What’s in the diary between now and the final round?
Pourchaire: I will go back to my reserve driver duties with Alfa Romeo and be a little more dedicated to that which is good, doing something else. A lot of simulator, probably some running in a Formula 1 car but I can’t say much, but yeah I’m happy to have that comfortable lead in the Championship. I will still work hard. We haven’t won anything yet but it’s a huge day for the Championship so I’m happy.
FIA Formula 2: Very well done to you.