Cramped Racing: FIA F2 Around Monaco, Part Last


Header image/photos by Tony Hall; interviews by Sergio Álvarez

What do you get when you add a ‘Carlo’ to a ‘Monte’? You get the full monty with Carlo and that’s exactly what happened during last weekend’s racing at the cramped Monaco street circuit. Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that on its day Monaco can be good fun. To achieve this strange effect you’d need what is commonly known as the “wet around Monaco” factor for wet behind the ears Formula 2 drivers, all’s relative of course.

sunny monaco = dull racing; rainy monaco = fun racing

Back in the day peeps would only start racing at 17, whilst, if you look at Pourchaire, he by his own admission “started at 3 years old in go-karts” so by doing the complicated math that gives the Flying Frenchman 14 years of experience. It’s impressive and mind-blowing at the same time.

I’d go so far as to tweet it’s a shame it didn’t rain in Monaco this time, it always produces some mighty chaos and we love a good street racing chaos.

Although our surprise P3 man in the first of two Sprint Races, none other than the guy quickly approaching his 30s on and off track, Roy Nissany didn’t feel threatened by overnight showers at all. It’s interesting to think that RN is going up against peeps who are 10 years his junior. Nonetheless, the cheerful Israeli driver was on it on Friday, a nice chap, very enthusiastic and polite. So Roy had no issues whatsoever with rain spoiling drivers’ fun at the start and mixing up strategies.

the smoke will rise: roy nissany smoked the competition in SR1

Said Roy: “Alright, so yesterday actually after Free Practice we already had a go at this (practice starts) and the grip was fairly OK comparing to such a smooth asphalt as Monaco. Basically, it’s a management of clutch in these conditions and the grip (at the start of the Sprint Race 1) was surprisingly OK, I would say. Being able not to wheelspin too much and just let the car go forward, not sliding too much. So relatively… surprisingly average, I would say. Guys, do you agree?”

And yes, they did, both Zhou and Drugovich who joined RN on the podium and in the presser.

Said Drugovich: “Yeah, I agree completely. I think we’re going to see more and more of this during the weekend. Obviously now (for Sprint Race 2) I start from the outside, next race (the Feature) I’m going to start from the inside which is the normal racing line and should have a little bit more grip. But at the same time it looks like the tarmac and the main straight are quite good, so no issues with that.”

You know, we detect a bit of a more polished version of Nelson Piquet in Felipe, the way he talks, etc.. For his own good, we hope there’ no F2 equivalent of Eliseo Salazar around…

Let’s not get too excited, shall we. Gotta keep the ball rolling.

On to the Sprint Race 2.

more work for the likeable monaco track marshals with 3 formula 2 races per weekend

It’s safe to say we’ve been getting hybrid feedback relative to F2 having 3 races per weekend: some felt electrified while some remained ICE cold. I do tend to dig it based purely on the fact that it shakes up the usual order of things and suddenly it’s more of a challenge for the teams as well. It transforms the weekend into a sort of gruelling, gladiatorial racing. Something the likes of Fangio used to perform early on but only a million times worse when it comes to safety. Ay yai yai, and no social media either in those days. However, to be fair, they’d use old-school printed press to pass on their opinions, it just took longer for the masses to get their quotes and such. In any case, I love following F2 for the sense of drama and to see how it develops over the course of 3 days of action-packed weekends. It almost becomes a thing in itself where you feel obliged, like a NASCAR driver who’s been in a Dega wreck, to extricate yourself from the ‘tribal dance’ (to quote a bad 90s song) and try to calm down and go back to normal.

Turbo lag.

Dan Ticktum

And did someone say terrible ‘turbo lag’? Aah yeass, it was Dan Ticktum and I gotta investigate. More on this as details become available. Meanwhile, kudos to Mecachrome for reproducing old-school F1 turbo lag for 2021. We love 1980s turbo storytelling. Speaking of which, don’t miss our mission Goodwood FOS in July. A shameless plug.

Our order of the day after the SR2 and slowly approaching the main race was: do we overtake during pitstops or why don’t we do it in the road? Oh, that’s a much more classier song that the one I quoted five minutes ago!

So before the big one, the Feature Race, we asked Lawson and Ticktum about their preferences in overtaking: do it on the track or in the pits. Here’s what we got.

Liam Lawson: “A pretty similar answer (to Oscar Piastri’s). I think around this place it’s so hard to overtake, as we said before. If you have the opportunity (to overtake), you might as well go for it because I dunno how much the pit stops are going to change things. With the strategy, it’s probably going to be quite similar with people because there’s not a lot you can gamble on with coming out on track and things like that. If you have the clear and basic run, if you have the opportunity, you could go for it because I think it’s going to be quite hard to jump a lot of people in the pit stops.”

Dan Ticktum: “Not a lot more to add, I mean I’ll just say that at a normal circuit if you hesitate you’re normally gonna end up with a problem but here you just can’t hesitate at all! At a normal track, you’d line up a move for a few corners, maybe, with these cars and these tyres, you’d save for a couple of corners and then really push a few corners to get like a slingshot on the guy with the DRS and stuff. But here you only got one DRS zone so they have to make a mistake. And if the they do, you can go for a move – there should be absolutely no hesitation at all. Like, you just park your car on the apex and hope that they give you enough respect really. It’s very few moves around here without people touching. Everyone knows that, it’s just very tough to overtake. I won’t be taking huge risks, not starting from P4. I’ll be happy with P3, P4 – again, it’s good solid points. Like I said, there’s not gonna be massive differences with the strategy and the pit stops. It’s damage limitation almost. If I can go for it, I will. But I’m not going to be taking huge risks.”

It didn’t quite work out for the passionate Dan, we feel sorry for the guy. He’s a real pleasure and a treasure to listen to in press conferences. Better luck next time, even though for Zhou to lose 30 points out of nowhere and for other equally talented drivers to fail to score, one would require a catastrophic Baku results across all three races for top ten guys in the championship. That’s a pretty tall order. In my book or in anybody’s book for that matter.

Baku be like out of the frying pan into the fire compared to Monaco, with more, bigger and better DRS zones and a decidedly Soviet architecture to compensate for the lack of space.

We can’t wait for the F2 caravanserai to move into the land of natural gas and petroleum.

sail away from monaco to baku

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