Frederik Vesti needed Saturday in Abu Dhabi to go to plan to maintain his Formula 2 title ambitions, and just that happened as he won the sprint race.
The Prema driver started from second place and briefly took the lead out of turn five on lap one before being eaten up by three rivals down the following straight and into turn six.
Vesti’s engineer Pedro Matos was again crucial in the outcome. He repeatedly instructed the Mercedes-AMG F1 junior over the radio on when to push for an overtake and the fastest lap, to eventually win comfortably.
The Dane sits now 16 points behind championship leader Theo Pourchaire, with 26 points up for grabs in the last race where they will line-up ninth and 14th respectively. Vesti says he needs a “very special” drive on Sunday to become champion.
“If I wanted the chance to fight for the championship tomorrow, I needed a good race today, Vesti said. “So I couldn’t just risk it all and then crash on lap one. On the other hand, I needed to push the maximum to get that win, even the fastest lap for the one point. It all counts. And we managed to do that in style today.
“Coming into this weekend, I knew I had to do something very special, and winning this sprint race was the first part of that. I still have a big job tomorrow to try to go for this championship. But first job completed today.”
Vesti also had his say on his lead fight with Rodin Carlin’s Enzo Fittipaldi, which was “a bit too exciting in the car”, and his car’s performance.
“I was a bit too conservative into T1. I feel like I had a really good start, but then Enzo sort of took back the lead. We were side-by-side into T1. I kind of went for move in T4, and I don’t know what happened, Enzo had a little moment. Sorry, in T5. Enzo had a little moment, I had to sort of correct as well. And I went down the back straight P1 and I exited T7 in P4. So very eventful. Cool racing, just happy to fight back.”
“I was really pleased today with the car, because yesterday I think we were just lacking a bit of pace. My theoretical laptime was good enough for P4 in qualifying, but had a mistake. But today the car was really, really good, and much better than I expected it to be. So that’s very good for tomorrow, and hopefully it’s similar conditions and we can go for it.
He followed: “My top speed felt fine to attack and overtake, so definitely not a worry for tomorrow. And on the car side, tyres was surprisingly good. I actually felt even at the end I was able to maintain a good speed. I didn’t really need to push because Enzo fell back quite a lot. I was able to keep them in good shape, which is promising for tomorrow.”