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F2 stars surprised by length of opening stint in Hungaroring feature race

by Ida Wood

Photo: Formula Motorsport Ltd

The podium finishers in Formula 2’s feature race at the Hungaroring were surprised by how long the opening stint of the race lasted.

The top five on the grid started on Pirelli’s less durable soft compound tyres, with DAMS’ Ayumu Iwasa in sixth the highest-placed driver to choose the medium compound as his starting tyre for the 37-lap race.

Hitech GP’s Isack Hadjar was the first in the top five to pit, on lap 13, and ART Grand Prix’s Theo Pourchaire pitted from fourth a lap later.

The eventual podium trio kept on going, with Prema’s Frederik Vesti peeling in on lap 22, ART GP’s Victor Martins following a lap later and then poleman Jack Doohan pitting on lap 24 and managing to do so without losing the lead.

“To be the last car boxing starting on the primary strategy, on the option [tyre], just shows that the communication we had, the management, was awesome,” said Doohan, as he dispelled the idea of any concerns about his pace on the medium tyre influencing Virtuosi Racing’s decision to pit him so late.

“I assumed that [the mediums] might be a little bit weaker. However even on the outlap, my middle sector was matching the guys who were already up to temperature on the medium. So from there on, I felt actually even more comfortable than I did on the option [tyre].”

Doohan’s pace on the mediums was shown as “I got the fastest lap in the first few laps when I wasn’t pushing for it yet”, and he went on to win by nine seconds over Vesti and Martins. All three had prioritised tyre management in the opening stint, and set their fastest laps towards the end of the race.

“Especially on a track like this, where it’s difficult to overtake and overheating is a problem on the tyres, I think I kind of knew that he was also taking it quite easy,” Vesti said of Doohan. “A bit like him I also just tried to manage my tyres, I think it was clear for everyone we wanted to definitely not box as the first guy.

“But I think all of us were a bit surprised at how far we could actually extend the option. That was definitely not the plan to box that late.”

Martins said he “tried to go as long as possible, longer than them, but in the end when I saw we were all going almost to the end I was like ‘maybe it’s good to try an undercut or an overcut at some point'”.

“On the prime in the end I was easily going faster and faster. Wwhen I asked to the engineer how many laps were remaining and he told me just a few, I decided to push and see. Even if I was having big tyre degradation, I would have been okay with behind with the gap I had behind.”