Sergio’s FIA Formula 2 Mid-season Review

NEWS & STORIES, SERGIO'S COLUMN

We expected it to be the Battle of the Brits, but not in this unbalanced way… Midway through the F2 season, George Russell looks as the next Big Thing as he establishes himself as the next Young man ready to progress to the final step of motorsport. For now, his main rival Lando Norris looks like facing a steep learning curve. Nothing is decided yet, but so far the odds are against him. It prompted the McLaren junior to state that this has been his worst season ever: “However good second in the championship sounds, I think the amount of mistakes I’ve made, the problems, everything we’ve put together has by far been the worst.” As good examples, he points at his crash in Monaco qualifying and his poor management of tyres in the Austria feature race.

Meanwhile, Formula 2 attracted too much attention for the wrong reasons, when the new-for-2018 car delivered more stalls on the grid than anybody would expect from a single-seater. Drivers and teams seriously complained about troublesome clutch being more “diva” with bite point and mapping than the Mercedes W08 was with tyres. The problem was described by ART driver Jack Aitken as “unsafe”, “unacceptable” and “unbelievable”; and, for safety reasons, led to rolling starts both in Austria and Great Britain. Shortly after this event, some teams (including ART and DAMS) took charge of testing different solutions in places like Magny-Cours and an airport runway. Even F2 supremo Bruno Michel admitted that the number of issues was “too high”, not only referring to the clutch but also in terms of engine management. Happily, in Hungary, the problems looked as a thing of the past.

At that very same race weekend, Iberianmph had the chance to talk to some of the F2 stars about their best and worst moments so far in 2018. Fortunately or not, you can see that Monaco and Baku are the most remembered events by a mile…:

George Russell: “Best moment of the year was probably winning in Baku Race 2, coming from P12. And the worst moment could be Monaco. Everything went wrong, a really bad weekend.”

FOS with FIA Formula 2 Guys (2)

GR in Goodwood in full Mercedes F1 attire having a word with Sergio

Alex Albon: “Baku was really quite nice. Crazy race but happy to get my first win.”

“The worst moment would be Monaco for sure; the feature race, when I had contact with Nyck to lose the win. It was really disappointing, especially for the team.”

Nyck de Vries: “In many ways, it has been a very intense and mixed season so far. Obviously with the introduction of the new car, as a team I think that we lost out on quite a few point-scoring occasions. But up until Paul Ricard we were always competitive and quick. We were always confident that we were there to fight for the championship, and I think we showed up moving up to fifth in the championship, only 29 points behind the leaders. We attempted to keep momentum, but we’ve just had two very difficult weekends that made us drop in the standings, which aren’t really representative of our potential. But that’s the way it is. We want  to recover quicker to the level we had up until Paul Ricard [they did so with victory in Hungary feature race!], and we should be able to fight for podiums and wins.”

Hungarian GP by Sergio (47)

#HungarianGP

“The best moment was winning in Paul Ricard. Our pace in Monaco was also outstanding, but we went home with zero points. That’s the way it is, no point in looking back.”

Is then Monaco his worst moment? “Yeah, true, but then for me it is worse when you don’t have the speed. In Monaco we went home with zero points, but at least the potential was there and we showed we were quick. I think that is worse when you are struggling, as in the past two weekends.”

Luca Ghiotto: “My worst moment was Baku race 1, when I crashed. And the best moment… I don’t know. Paul Ricard, for now, the overall weekend. We’ve had only two good weekends so far…. Not much to choose from. Maybe ask me this question on Sunday!”

Tadasuke Makino: “The beginning of the season was very difficult for me, especially Baku and Monaco, where I had my first time driving at these tracks. But afterwards, my race pace was getting much better than before. In Silverstone it was ok, but I had a five-sec penalty and I lost a bit of time behind the SC. However, I think I’ve improved in race pace. Now the target is a podium.”

“As the best moment, I think I would pick up Spielberg, Red Bull Ring. Ok, I was really struggling with tyre degradation, but I ran well and it was a really good experience for me; and also SIlverstone race 1 , because my prime tyre pace was good.”

Worst moments: “Monaco and Baku. I had an engine issue during race 2, so it felt really bad. And I couldn’t race: I stalled and Luca Ghiotto hit me. Anyway, in Monaco the pace wasn’t good.”

“Last year I drove at Macau, but the car is different, mainly because of the average speed. Monaco is always a difficult track, you have only 45 minutes of practice… And you crash into the wall with a small mistake. But it’s really exciting!”

Roy Nissany: “It didn’t start as we expected. We were having a lot of issues at the beginning. Sometimes mistakes were mine, sometimes of the team; and I had to adapt to the Pirellis from Michelins, a big change in driving style.”

“I think the Pirellis are more extreme. The Michelins work in a bit more stable way; not necessarily better, but with a more similar behaviour around different circuits. Just a more stable behaviour, either good or bad. But Pirellis are the best preparation: I see them as a great training for F1 in the future, I hope.”

“In Baku we had a great race, running in fourth until a later fight put us directly into the wall. We were leading part of this race as well, so we were already showing our potential at the second race of the season. It could also be at the same time the worst moment… Because it was a great time and in the end it was not. The best moment could also be the best finishing position: 10th in Monaco. As well, in Monaco we were running in 8th but I got hit from the back by Albon. So a lot of highlights already.”

Roberto Merhi: “It has been a difficult season, particularly at the start of the year, with an engine problem in our car. It was changed for Monaco and I felt the measure instantly. We were running well, although we have not succeeded in doing a qualifying session as expected due to traffic issues in the end. But we did pretty well at Paul Ricard. In Austria I couldn’t start when I had fifth position on the grid, due to a clutch problem. However, for Monaco, Paul Ricard and Spielberg I was at the front. To start from the back and to get to podium positions is always very positive.”

“Of course there have been many bad moments, like Bahrain. In the first race I couldn’t make the start because of another clutch issue.”

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