Home Featured Bortoleto: “It’s 1000kg off of my shoulder to finally win in F2”

Bortoleto: “It’s 1000kg off of my shoulder to finally win in F2”

by Ida Wood

Photo: Formula Motorsport Ltd

Gabriel Bortoleto has described his relief at breaking his Formula 2 victory duck as “1,000 kilos off of my shoulder”.

The 19-year-old reigning FIA Formula 3 champion claimed pole on his F2 debut and finished sixth and fifth in his first two races at Bahrain. In round four at Imola he took a second pole and a maiden podium by finishing second in the feature race, but said it “was a hard one to take” being beaten to victory there by 0.569 seconds.

That was followed up with second place in the Monaco sprint race, then in round seven at the Red Bull Ring last weekend the Virtuosi Racing driver came from second on the grid (after poleman Dennis Hauger started from the pitlane) to win the feature race.

“I always knew that we had the points and the stability to [win]. It just didn’t happen before. It was just a matter of time. Because it’s not that I was slower or I was doing mistakes,” said Bortoleto.

“It was just, let’s say, 1,000 kilos off of my shoulder to finally win my first race in F2. And from now on, we know that our car will be there every round, so we will be fighting for wins much more this season.”

Bortoleto felt “we were fast in qualifying, but even faster in the race”, and said his biggest challenge en route to victory was Pepe Marti illegally pitting during the race’s virtual safety car period and jumping ahead of him once he had pitted. He spent 11 laps behind Marti before overtaking him.

“I needed to push much more at the beginning than what I wanted to on the soft [tyres]. I came out of the pit and he was almost in turn three. It was a big, big loss, and I needed to push to catch him. Because I didn’t know, actually, how was his pace, if I could slow down at the beginning or not. I used a little bit more of my tyres than what I would like to, at that point of the race. But it was fine. In the end we also had the pace, so I’m happy with how everything went.”

Once he passed Marti, Bortoleto then spent 12 laps behind Jak Crawford before he pitted and he returned to the lead.

“I couldn’t pass more than what I was doing at that moment because I would destroy my tyres. So I needed to keep up with the same pace as Crawford, more or less. So when I realised that he started to [have] degradation a bit,  I wanted to move, and it worked. But obviously that three, four laps that I was quite close to him under his DRS was tough on the tyres. And for sure, it destroyed them a bit.”

Bortoleto knew what his tyres could handle as “we did some consecutive pushes in free practice to see how was the degradation and the overheating of the tyres; and we were looking decent there”.