Five safety car periods interrupted Formula 2’s Monza feature race, but there weren’t too many passes on restarts. So did the race’s stop-start nature influence the podium battles?
Prema’s Ollie Bearman took the lead from ART Grand Prix’s poleman Theo Pourchaire on lap one, conceded it when he pitted during the first safety car, then reclaimed it once everyone had stopped, and finished there. He determined how the pack approached restarts, but did not see the chaos behind.
“The problem is during the safety car, you lose a lot of temperature, and especially on the final restart, the safety car is quite slow and the tyre was at its worst state,” explained Bearman. “It’s quite tough to fire up the front tyres. I was a bit scared of Ayumu [Iwasa] on the supersofts a couple of places back.”
DAMS’ Iwasa used the alternate strategy – running medium and then supersoft compound tyres – to climb from 15th to second, passing Pourchaire on the last restart.
“Honestly, I had a better tyre grip right after the restart. But in the second lap already my tyre was losing the grip a lot,” said Iwasa.
“I was trying to hold my position, not to do easy mistakes,” and almost considered himself ‘lucky’ that the race ended behind the safety car and prevented Pourchaire from attacking.
But Pourchaire also had grip issues: “A bit too much understeer on my car – which means that after each restart I was struggling quite a lot.”
“I was confident I could try something on the prime tyres, but unfortunately there was a lot of safety cars and it was more difficult for me,” he explained.
“I was struggling each time the first two big braking zones and the first two chicanes, I was not too confident. I had a lot of understeer. And also the last safety car restart, I knew Ayumu had supersoft tyres.”
Pourchaire “tried everything” but lost out to what he called “a great move”. He was protecting a points lead as well as second place, but “was racing like normal”.
“I was thinking about [my points lead] a bit, but still pushing a lot. You could see it on Ayumu going into turn one, it was close, but still fair, clean.”
Formula Scout asked the trio if results would have changed without the last safety car period, and what the disruptions meant for post-race analysis.
“It’s hard. We didn’t really know how the option tyre performs, because I think we did maybe three or four laps on it,” replied Bearman. “On the prime I felt very comfortable. It’s always more difficult on the early laps after a safety car when the tyre temperature is building back up. During the actual stint, it feels very nice.”
He added: “I still feel like I would have won the race without any safety cars.”
Iwasa was expecting safety car interruptions, and was pleased with how DAMS reacted on strategy, while Pourchaire thought “without any safety cars, I would’ve been P2″.