Mastering the Pirelli rubber is a key quality every Formula 2 driver needs on their CV and this year, it was two of our rookie stars that shone brightest amongst the pack – Virtuosi Racing’s Jack Doohan and DAMS’ Ayumu Iwasa.
Voted on by a panel of international Formula 1 and F2 journalists, Doohan and Iwasa were jointly awarded the Pirelli Trophy for the best utilisation of their tyres, beating out fellow nominees Logan Sargeant, Enzo Fittipaldi, Frederik Vesti and Dennis Hauger.
Tyre management and strategy played an important role in both drivers’ successes this season. Alpine junior Doohan adapted to the different compounds available with ease, claiming three pole positions throughout his campaign and managing the blue-walled tyres to score his first victory in a wet and slippery Silverstone Sprint Race.
Returning to the top step in the Budapest Sprint, the Australian driver kept thermal degradation at bay to claim the victory in a dominant lights-to-flag performance. Benefitting from the undercut in Spa-Francorchamps gave Doohan the early advantage he needed to keep 2022 Drivers’ Champion Felipe Drugovich at bay for his first Feature Race win of the year.
“For sure, it’s not an easy part and I struggled with it in my first few races of Formula 2,” noted Doohan, who finished sixth in the Championship Standings. “But once I was able to get to grips with it, myself and with the Virtuosi car and then also put the tyres into a higher gear, I could take a good step forward and not only conquer the Quali pace but also the race pace.”
Building on the lessons he’d learnt during his rookie season, fifth-placed Iwasa continued to strengthen his tyre management skills throughout. Keeping his harder rubber in check during a warm weekend in Le Castellet, the Red Bull junior comfortably breezed to victory in the Feature Race by almost nine seconds.
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This was followed up by a maiden pole position in Budapest, before the Japanese driver closed his ‘22 campaign on a high with the final victory of the year at Yas Marina, holding off Drugovich in a last-lap duel to the chequered flag.
Whilst accepting his Pirelli Trophy on stage during the Prize Giving Ceremony in Monte Carlo, Iwasa noted: “I was racing in Formula 3 last year but even in F3, the tyre I had held on a lot. In F2, there was quite a lot more degradation than in F3. I think the tyre is the most important part because it’s in contact with the ground. Last year it was important but this season it was great, so I’m very happy.”