Ahead of Formula 2’s Monaco feature race, Roman Stanek was realistic about the chance of scoring points from 22nd on the grid. Yet he ended last Sunday in seventh place.
Having gained 14 places through the race as others pitted or hit trouble, a perfectly-timed red flag stoppage gave him a free tyre change and six valuable points.
But a collision with Ralph Boschung in practice appeared to have ruined Stanek’s weekend almost before it had begun.
The incident “was 50:50,” he told Formula Scout. “I was preparing my [first flying] lap and he just went there in the last moment, but it’s Monaco: I cannot just lift the car and put it [somewhere else].”
With no running ahead of qualifying on his first ever visit to Monaco, Stanek was already struggling to catch up. A three-place grid penalty for the clash just rubbed salt in the wounds.
“It’s just a shame here in Monaco that if you don’t have any laps in practice then you can’t do anything in qualifying, so three seconds in qualy – and I don’t think I’m a driver who loses three seconds – was tough,” he said.
Stanek benefited from the first lap carambolage in the sprint race, but with no strategy options to try, any further progress was impossible.
With nothing to lose for the feature race, he rolled the dice, looking for: “Good strategy, some clean air, go progressively with the pace, hope for a safety car and then box. There is nothing you can do, even if you are three seconds faster, it’s very tough to overtake.”
Realistically, however, his sights were on “learning the track,” and refocusing for Barcelona, where progress made in testing “will hopefully pay off”.
But in Monaco, a gambler’s luck can change rapidly and his feature race plan played out perfectly.
Running a long first stint, Stanek was yet to pit when Jack Doohan’s massive shunt at Massenet caused red flags. As a result, he could make his mandatory tyre change during the race stoppage and retain eighth place.
With the restart unfathomably going ahead with the out-of-position cars from ninth downwards still half a lap behind, his position was safe from attack, even gaining a place after Victor Martins served a drive-through penalty.
Acknowledging the role luck had played on this occasion, Stanek conceded that “we don’t have the car to win, but we can definitely score good points”. Overall, he is happy with Trident’s car, “even if it does not look that way from the results; we are missing a bit of pace from qualifying but also in the races”.
He admits that the improvement needs to come from his own performance as well as “finding the right [car] balance”.
“I don’t say that I’m the best driver here, but I’m not the worst and I’m not the guy who is losing one second in qualy,” he said. “I really want to bounce back to the top because it has been too long since we scored good points.”