This was going to be an intriguing weekend, if only for the different timetable compared to what teams and drivers are used to in the FIA Formula 2 and Formula 3 championships.
The morning schedule for F2 feature race meant that the drivers could leave the track earlier and had much more time to focus their minds on Sunday (specially if they had endured a race to forget…). At least it is what seemed to the eyes of Iberianmph: We did not spot any F2 driver at dinner time in the hospitality, when this tends to be a good moment to catch up on their reflections for you, our beloved readers. However, we are sure that this is a good measure to encourage the on-track spectators to pay attention to the great racing that takes place at F2 and discover who’s cutting the mustard through the motorsport ladder. With the afternoon start time, some ill-advised people might be tempted to leave a bit too early… On the contrary, everybody tries to get in early to avoid too huge crowds at the entrance. So there are clear pros and cons about the experience, if someone out there cares about Iberianmph verdict.
The week started with the news of two usual suspects rejoining the F2 championship: Ralph Boschung’s comeback for Trident and Arjun Maini’s reunion with Campos Racing. Truth to be told, the weekend of Boschung became a case study of how not to do it. Things started badly with a heavy crash at Turn 1 in Friday’s free practice session, forcing the rest of the grid to lose a highly appreciated bit of track time.
But it was going to be just a sign of things to come both for the driver and for the rest of the grid. You could argue that Boschung was “driver of the day” on Saturday at Hungaroring – with permission from the different winners and F1’s polesitter Verstappen – as he broke the engine of his Trident at four laps to go to the end of the race. Firstly, this brought the Safety Car out, putting and end to Jordan King’s joyful charge through the field (thanks to a different tyre strategy) and adding more controversy to F2 stewardship this year: King himself and Luca Ghiotto were given 5-secs penalties for speeding during the previous Virtual Safety Car period but, in a unique move, both penalties were rescinded after revising the incident more calmly. The stewards stated that cars were so close to each other that “it would have been quite difficult, if not almost impossible, to slow down quickly enough without potentially causing a major incident”. But the Trident’s footprint would become a trending topic all day long, as sepiolite and dust stayed the whole journey at Turns 4 and 5, out there for all to see. It even delayed FP3 for F1. Happily, the boys atop the F3 podium confirmed to Iberianmph that it was nothing to worry about by afternoon time… unless you put a wheel off the racing line!
As for the championship contenders, in the end Nyck de Vries converted pole into a lost opportunity. But it is Latifi whom we have to hail not only for his brilliant start, but also for his proficiency when it came to managing his final set of soft tyres, so that De Vries could not succeed in an undercut attempt. To many observers, Nicholas Latifi carries the “pay driver” and “rich kid” badges, but none other than Max Verstappen would have sold his soul to the devil in order to make a set of hards last up to the chequered flag, come Sunday. No doubt about it, experience is the name of the game this year in Formula 2…
…Unless your name is Mick Schumacher, you’ve got the reverse-grid pole and you need to prove a point once and for all, of course. Schumacher Jr himself admits that, if anything, this year’s Prema car is suited well to slow-corner, mechanical grip tracks. Iberianmph asked second-placed Matsushita: Where was more difficult to follow him? “Everywhere,” was his unequivocal answer. “I didn’t make any mistakes, but he didn’t either.” Judging by his comments at the press conference, it did look as if Schuey Jr. had everything under control: “Going into Turn 1 is the easiest, and let’s say most probable, overtaking opportunity for Nobu, so I tried to have a good exit out of the last corner every time which worked pretty well. He then got quite a bit closer into Turn 1 when he had the DRS, but in general I was trying to take care of my tyres. […] I tried to push to get away and stay out of the DRS but then also tried to look after the tyres so that if Nobu came back, which was a matter of time, I still had some tyres left.”
It is going to be exciting to find out if Sunday’s win gives Mick Schumacher additional confidence to face the end of the season.