CEO Bruno Michel looks back at Formula 2's rip-roaring return to the streets of Baku and picks out his key topics from the sixth round.
Michel discusses the rookies' triumphant weekend, why consistency is proving to be key in the title fight and the teams' mixed run of fortunes across the weekend.
THE ROOKIES ARISE
The Baku City Circuit is always the scene of great racing, sometimes chaotic, but always entertaining. It is a track that requires speed, skills, and keeping your nose clean. It was great to see two rookies prevail, starting with Frederik Vesti. The ART Grand Prix driver said that upon signing his F2 contract, he was most excited to race in the streets of Baku. In the Sprint Race, starting from P2, he claimed the lead in style to take a maiden victory. He became the seventh race winner this season, and the second rookie to do so.
On Sunday, Dennis Hauger displayed a mature and clean drive to cross the line first, taking his second win in 2022 – this time, a Feature Race victory. He added 25 points to his tally to move up to fifth in the Standings, after a slow start to his F2 career.
It was the first round this year that two rookies finished on top of both races. Behind Hauger, on Sunday, another rookie finished P2, with Logan Sargeant achieving his best result to date. The American currently stands fourth in the Drivers’ Championship behind three more experienced drivers. Meanwhile, Enzo Fittipaldi and Jack Doohan lie in P8 and P9 respectively, making it four rookies in the current Top 10.
MORE SILVERWARE FOR DRUGOVICH AND DARUVALA
Our Championship leader Felipe Drugovich came to Baku without too much expectation from him and his team, who were unsure of how well they could perform there. When the dust settled, he added 19 points to his tally, including third place in the Feature Race. He admitted that luck had been on his side on Sunday, but he still managed a clean weekend to extend his lead even further.
Meanwhile, Jehan Daruvala took another podium, his third in a row in a Sprint Race, finishing again second. However, he was frustrated with this result after he lost the win to Vesti following a less than ideal restart. The Indian’s consistency sees him close the gap to Théo Pourchaire in the Standings to ten points, as the Frenchman struggled for pace at Baku.
Drugovich has a 49 points’ advantage to Pourchaire, ahead of the busiest month of the season, in July, with four rounds over the course of five weeks.
TEAMS’ BAKU HIGHS AND LOWS
MP Motorsport are hanging on to the top, although only one of their cars scored points in Azerbaijan. This means that they lost three points over their closest rival. Meanwhile, reigning Champions PREMA Racing leapfrogged ART Grand Prix to move up to second, 26 points behind MP. The Italian outfit were fifth after Barcelona, but they have amassed 73 points in a matter of two rounds, claiming two wins and four podiums along the way. They are clearly back in good form.
It was a case of joys and frustrations for ART with Vesti winning on Saturday but stalling on the grid on Sunday. The Dane still managed to cross the line in seventh in the Feature Race after an amazing recovery from P20.
But the biggest heartbreak of the week belongs to Hitech Grand Prix: claiming pole position on Friday, Jüri Vips was in command of the Feature Race until he made a mistake at the entrance of the Castle section, in the final stages of the race. The Estonian has three weeks to recover from this costly error ahead of his team’s home round in Silverstone.
Trident also leave Baku with some regrets after Richard Verschoor’s overtake attempt on Vesti in the Sprint Race was too optimistic and saw the Dutchman crash out from third. A mistake during his pitstop on Sunday saw him lose another podium finish, but Verschoor still scored some strong points with P5, his first since the Feature Race in Jeddah!
Finally, I want to highlight Van Amersfoort Racing’s performance. They really struggled during Free Practice, but they managed to turn things around in time for Qualifying as Jake Hughes set the tenth quickest laptime. This allowed him to start yet again from reverse pole on Saturday. Unfortunately, the car set-up was visibly not the right one. It’s been a tough weekend overall for the newcomers, on a track where neither they nor Hughes had knowledge or data to help them along the way. I expect them to fight for strong points in Silverstone.