Ollie Bearman says his winning strategy in the Formula 2 feature race at Barcelona took inspiration from how Felipe Drugovich won the same race in 2022.
In both years the race ran to 37 laps, although Drugovich drove to victory from 10th on the grid while Bearman had the advantage of starting from pole.
An early safety car period in last year’s feature race helped Drugovich make his first stint on Pirelli’s soft compound tyre last 17 laps, six laps longer than his opposition, while last weekend Bearman used his starting set of soft tyres for 13 laps before pitting, going three laps further than his rivals.
“Of course we saw Felipe doing that [strategy] last year, and that put him in a really good position for the next stint on the hard tyre,” Bearman explained to Formula Scout.
“It was quite a funny one actually. Of course we knew kind of how long we could go from the test [at Barcelona last month]. That’s very useful data for us. But the track conditions were a bit different today.
“And every lap when I exited turn nine my engineer was telling me to box, and then when he saw my sector two he told me to stay out. And that was like three laps! So I was pushing maximum for these three laps thinking I would box, and then I have to do one more. So that was quite a funny one. To extend [the stint] was obviously key to a good race.”
Having planned “to go as long as possible” for the opening stint, “it helped that I was leading the race, of course I had no dirty air in front of me”. But Bearman and his Prema team still had to be reactive to what other drivers were doing.
“Once we saw that Enzo [Fittipaldi] pitted, and also Theo [Pourchaire] a couple of laps before, we decided to start pushing. And the pace was better than we thought,” he said to media including Formula Scout.
Holding off Rodin Carlin driver Fittipaldi at the start was critical for the strategy, as Bearman did not want to push his tyres early on battling others and lose net time to those starting on hard tyres who would go later into the race before pitting.
“Of course it’s never easy, especially with the guys doing the opposite strategy,” he said. “But it was a well-controlled race I would say from from our side as a team. Managed to have a healthy margin for the whole race, which is which is always nice. It’s never nice to have someone pushing you all the way.”
On the start, he added: “It’s a long run down into [turn] one. The goal is to get the perfect start. So far, we’ve been doing that. But this race was not the case, unfortunately.
“I think we were almost four-wide into turn one, but I managed to be strong in the brakes and lead into the apex, which is the main thing.”