FIA F2: Pronti, Partenza, MONZA (FRI-SAT-SUN updated)


Interviews by Sergio Álvarez; photos by Diego Merino.

Over the years we’ve been visiting Monza for the Italian GP and its magic and history always shone on us. You can check out our archive, featuring stories and photos from Diego and Sergio:

One of the best features to come out of Italy is undoubtedly The Man With the Big Sombrero, what a guy! Who needs social media when you have a sombrero like that!

My only minor complaint about the Temple of Speed is the modified 1st corner, it just makes no sense in its current configuration – not nice, as they say on HAAS pit wall. I prefer it the old style, taken in the other direction.

After relative success of Zandvoort banked corners, I reckon F1 should bite the bullet and revive the old Monza banking for a bit of fun and games. Not likely but you never know.

Banking on Zandvoort’s recent experience – how to scare an F1 driver

Mein Gott! With these insane calendar breaks I’ve almost forgotten about Formula 2 myself, it’s like a million light years away from Silverstone. I stand by “less is more” concept, however this is not enough even for me, give us more F2 action please.

When F2 drivers and teams packed up and went home in July our championship standings looked like so: Piastri 108 pts; Zhou 103 pts ; Shwartzman 91 pts; Ticktum 89 pts; Vips 85 pts.

And coincidentally, welcome to our Monza FIA F2 hub, to be updated with mighty driver quotes over the course of the weekend. We don’t want to be making too many remarks and overload you peeps with excessive punditry – instead we invite you to come up with your own judgements based on these quotes. Oh, and do watch those wonderful videos:

Qualy | FRI (just around the Parabolica)

Ladies and gents, dis is your top 3 for the main race: P1. Piastri, P2. Daruvala, P3. Zhou.

Congrats to everyone, what’s your take on tow at the start on the run down towards Turn 1?

“It works both ways.”

Oscar Piastri

Piastri: “I think that will make some of the difference, yeah. I think just getting a good launch will be still the biggest deciding factor on where you end up after Turn 1. Obviously, hopefully from pole, I don’t get a tow and hopefully that means good things, but tomorrow starting tenth you don’t wanna get stuck. It’s kind of a bit like karting in a way, you don’t want to get stuck on the outside without the slipstream and get muscled out at Turn 1. It can make a difference, but at the same time if everyone’s on the inside or someone right in front of you, you can brake much later than them. It works both ways.”

Daruvala: “I honestly don’t think there’s much tow as such going into Turn 1 because obviously you’re starting from slow speed and by the time you accelerate you pretty much brake for Turn 1. I think it’s more beneficial just having a good start and it’s gonna make more of a difference than having a tow.”

Zhou: “Not much to add. They pretty much said everything. The launch is the most important thing. And with lower speed tow effect is much less than (at the) end of the straight.”

“I have no idea what the answer would be.”

Oscar Piastri

Speaking of the F1 silly season, would you support, say, automatic promotion for Formula 2 champions onto the F1 grid? Maybe mimicking Road to Indy scheme?

Piastri: “No, I don’t think so. I think if that was the case, you’d probably have people sticking in F2 for like five or six years just trying to get an F1 seat and sort of not really deserving it. So I don’t really think that’s the answer, I have no idea what the answer would be. I don’t think that’s really the way to go about it.”

“Nothing more to add.”

Guanyu Zhou #DropsTheMic

Daruvala: “I think the same. I think to just say the winner should get a seat, it doesn’t really make practical sense because that means one team has to take that driver and have no other choice, which doesn’t make sense. I think in F1 the teams wanna choose what drivers they have for many reasons so it just doesn’t make sense.”

Zhou: “Nothing more to add.”

But what if the rule did exist? With financial backing from Gazprom?

Sprint Race 1 | SAT (came & went, vrooom)

P1. Pourchaire, P2. Zhou, P3. Lundgaard.

“Yeah, it was really difficult, you know.”

Théo Pourchaire

Gents, how did SC periods impact your races – and this race in particular?

Pourchaire: “Yeah, it was really difficult, you know, to warm up the brakes and the tyres after each SC/VSC restarts. I think I was quite good on that, maybe a bit too careful at the beginning, where Lawson tried to overtake me but it’s not easy. On a track like Monza, where you need to have good brakes and good tyre temp, it was really difficult. It’s part of the game, it’s for everyone, the same.”

“Where did the other 7 laps go? I didn’t remember them.”

Christian Lundgaard

Lundgaard: “I think we had, I dunno, a VSC and a SC in the beginning of the race for one push lap. I remember my engineer told me we are like 14 laps to go or something like this. The next thing I remember, when we had the second SC, there was like 7 laps to go. Where did the other 7 laps go? I didn’t remember them. But to to describe what the SC periods did for us I would say (they did) create opportunities because if we get into the rythm, then everyone gets into the rythm and it becomes a DRS train. I think that also helped massively today.”

Zhou: “For me, apart from obviously going quite slow behind the SC you lose the temperature in the tyres and brakes. And braking is the most important thing here in Monza. I think when the second one (SC) came out and I just got to P3, I was in a quite good rythm, having no dirty air, then obviously that SC did impact a little bit my race because everybody bunched up and I was struggling to get past instead of having clean air and better tyres for the end. But in general I think nothing major, (SC not) damaging my race.”

Théo and Christian, are you confident you can challenge for higher positions in the remaining two races this weekend? They nearly did! P4 for Pourchaire in the FR felt quite decent for this iteration of the once dominant French team.

Pourchaire: “Um yeah, I’m confident. The car is good but I think the other teams are going to work (on it) as well. They’re going to improve. The other drivers are going to improve themselves as well so… We have to work, we have to improve. We are fast but we know the others are going to work. So I’m confident but we have to improve ourselves to stay focused on the next races.”

Lundgaard: “Yeah, I mean I proved it’s possible. The question is can we do it again, can we repeat it. I think for this race later today (SR2) we might be able to stay in the pack. If we’re gonna be on the podium again? It’s very difficult to say, but definitely for my Race 3 – a difficult one trying to repeat what we did today. I’m not really in doubt that we’d be able to get it to the top ten but to be on the podium again Race 3 will be a struggle. But fingers crossed.”

Sprint Race 2 | SAT (done & dusted)

P1. Daruvala, P2. Viscaal, P3. Shwartzman.

“We didn’t make contact and I was still on the track.”

Jehan Daruvala

Jehan, was Beckmann’s move at the start a clean one, how would you rate it in terms of dirty air?

Daruvala: “Yeah, I mean it was quite aggressive but it was fair because I just about had enough room to leave one tyre on the white line, which is enough to stay on the track so we didn’t make contact and I was still on the track, I think it was pretty fair.”

Bent, what changes would the Trident team need to introduce in Formula 2 if they were to become title contenders, like the PREMA juggernaut?

Viscaal: “At least it’s having a bit of patience because you can also see that in F3 they’re a championship contender and they’re a really competitive team, also in the past have been very competitive. I’m really impressed by the way they work, really professionally. But you know, we had to start from a bit of a back foot, especially in qualy where we’re still not quite there. I do definitely believe that the structure is there to become a top team. Hopefully as soon as possible.”

Feature Race | SUN (Pirelli rubber under the bridge)

Sunday in Monza belonged, without question, to the Red Bull and the Mercedes mating in a sort of amoeboid fashion, a union of kindred souls. Although let’s not be too negative about it, Sunday belonged to two advanced Australians, to be fair. RIC and Piastri. And when it comes to Piastri, boy, have we got quotes for you!

“That was a little bit tight.”

Oscar Piastri

P1. Piastri, P2. Zhou, P3. Ticktum.

Oscar and Guanyu, were you taking any serious risks today overtaking slower cars and cars yet to stop or were you maybe thinking more about the championship? And that magical F1 promotion, no.

Piastri: “I mean, (I took) a decent amount of risk. I knew and I wasn’t really thinking about the championship at all in that race, it was more trying to secure the win and get past those cars as quickly as I could. They wouldn’t put up too much of a fight because we’re on different strategies, it doesn’t really make sense for them to fight because it just lets them down as well as me. Um, yeah, I wasn’t really expecting to take too much risk, I took a lot more risk with Deledda than I was planning on. Ah, hum, so that was a little bit tight. I wasn’t gonna throw away the race trying to get past and because I knew I had more pace than them at that point, besides Dan, who I couldn’t quite catch. I was willing to take a little bit of time but also for the sake of keeping Zhou behind I tried to get on with it without obviously crashing.”

“The main objective for me was to try and chase up Oscar.”

Guanyu Zhou #DropsTheMic again

Zhou: “For sure, obviously the Feature Race we take a bit more risk than Race 1 and today I had quite a few tight moments out there, starting with a few (junior) Red Bull drivers. To be honest, the main objective for me was to try and chase up Oscar. When he was making a move, I wanted to be doing the same as soon as I get close to the other (driver), trying a different strategy. Above all, I think Monza, when trying to overtake it’s obviously a bit more risk if you’re not perfect on the braking point but all in all we have to do that. It’s nothing to be thinking too much about the championship right now.”

Guys, what’s you take on overtaking rules in F2 – like leaving the black stuff, over the white line and elbows out, is there anything you’d change personally?

“It’s pretty black and white, isn’t it?”

Dan Ticktum

Ticktum: “Well, I mean it’s a pretty black and white rule. You know, if they’d gone off and gained advantage or gained advantage on another car, then they have to give that time back. It’s pretty black and white, isn’t it? I guess…”

Zhou: “I think the rule is quite clear for all the drivers on the grid, to be honest. Obviously today it wasn’t the case of Jehan (pushing and shoving) – he never gave the position back so I was asking the team. And even though he never did (give the position back) and he was battling even harder, trying to push me off the track. We have to work together but it never happened today. Nevertheless, I think we all know what to do when you gain advantage either at the start or during overtakes. Whoever was in front has a little bit more priority than… It’s up to the stewards at the end of the day.”

Piastri: “Like Dan said, I think it’s pretty black and white what you can and cannot do. The only kind of time when it gets into the gray area is when you both argue that the other pushed you off the track. In that case then, it’s up to the stewards to decide that. If you go four wheels off the track, then you gain advantage from it. It’s in your best interest to give it back because the penatly is far harsher than giving the spot back in most cases. I think it’s pretty clear.”

Points-wise, here we go: Piastri 149 pts; Zhou 134 pts; Shwartzman 113 pts; Ticktum 104 pts. Walk this way – all the way to Sochi, 24-26 September 2021, mate.

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