Thoughts from Ghiotto, de Vries and Ilott
FIA Formula 2: Welcome to the press conference with the top three finishers in today’s FIA Formula 2 Sprint Race here in Sochi. We are joined by race winner Luca Ghiotto for UNI-Virtuosi Racing, in second place is Nyck de Vries for ART Grand Prix and in third place is Callum Ilott for Sauber Junior Team by Charouz. Luca, it’s your third win of this season but you came under a lot of pressure from Nyck in those closing laps. Just how tough was it holding him off?
Luca Ghiotto: Probably one of the toughest races that I’ve ever had. I think that even when I’ve had to try and recover from last it hasn’t been this tough. In those moments I enjoy the race [laughs] but today was just about praying for it to end. The engineer kept telling me the laps to go until the end and it was never-ending. It was ‘why are there still so many laps!?’ I don’t really know what happened because I think that in the top six I was the only one struggling even though I was the only one that had fresh air. We had to work! Of course, I’m happy for the win but I’m a bit disappointed to not have been quick enough.
FIA Formula 2: The race was obviously shortened by six laps as well, how did that affect the way you had to judge your pace? Did it make it difficult because you haven’t prepared for a race that short?
Luca: I think that most of us probably thought that would have been easier but actually, at least for me, the tyres were worse. Much worse. Comparing it to yesterday of course, even if we did seven or eight laps less on the tyres. At the start I had an idea in my mind but when I saw that the rear tyres were not good after four laps I completely changed my strategy, and that was the point where Nyck caught up. Then it was just about trying to have a good exit from the last corner and defend from him until the end.
FIA Formula 2: Well done. You managed to do it and hold on. Good win today. Nyck, moving on to you. P1 yesterday, P2 today and the title wrapped up this weekend. Does that count as a good weekend?
Nyck de Vries: I think so, yes. I think we are a very happy team at the moment. Obviously we would have liked to have a real battle with Luca at the end but he always had a good exit from the last corner, and the DRS opens quite late, so I wasn’t really able to get a good enough run. He defended well so well done to him. I think we should just be very pleased with today’s podium. If you would have asked us in advance we probably would have signed for this P2, because overtaking is quite difficult so I was happy to get a position after the restart. Yeah, happy with our weekend and on to the next.
FIA Formula 2: You also had a long delay to deal with early in the race with the red flag period. What does that do for a driver? What sort of things are you having to think about in that period there?
Nyck: Unfortunately I think we’ve had too many red flags this year. Monaco, Paul Ricard, Spa and now again. I wouldn’t say we get used to it but it wasn’t the first time. We should really try and avoid them.
FIA Formula 2: Thank you very much and well done today. Callum, moving on to you. Your second podium of the season. You were passed by Nyck early on in the restart, do you feel like there was maybe more possible today?
Callum Ilott: Yeah. I struggled a bit in the last sector to be honest. I was always struggling there, so actually in the corners where Luca went for the restart they were my worst corners. I missed a bit of time from him. He also anticipated it quite well. Then Nyck was just close enough to make it happen. I think, as much as it was a shortened race, Nyck was quick… Yeah, he was just quick enough and I think even if he hadn’t have got past it would have been a tough race to keep him behind. I don’t think I struggled as much as Luca with the tyres but I wasn’t quick enough relative to Nyck. It was a tough race. Even though it was shorter it was still difficult. The tyres still go off. It’s exponential with how much you push and the temperature you get. Overall, I’m really happy with the podium. I think after yesterday in the race, a bit of a struggle there, to come back with that and get a good clean start today and go from there was good.
FIA Formula 2: You mentioned after qualifying that tyres would be the issue, but having this race, not struggling as much as Luca and being right in the mix until the end, do you think you made some progress this weekend with tyres?
Callum: Yeah, I mean we keep evolving the car to make it better and I think in the Sprint Race I get a car that I’m happy with. We nailed it for quali, I always manage to get it into a window that I like, but the races have always been difficult. We don’t have that many sensors to understand the tyres relative to F1 or anything like that. To understand the tyres it’s like you’ve got to get the feeling yourself about how to save them, and also to understand what you want from the car to save them. When you’re a rookie coming in it’s like you’re thrown into it. I’m getting there. It’s just a bit of a shame it’s getting so late that we’re starting. Obviously with a shorter race like this it does make life a bit easier. I can hold on when it’s short, but I just seem to drop off a bit more at the end like I do something wrong at the end maybe.
Nyck: We don’t get it yet [laughs].
FIA Formula 2: Luca, returning to you. Obviously the drivers’ championship has been secured this weekend, but P2 is still up for grabs and it’s a tight battle there. Just how important is it, from your personal point of view, to try and finish second this season?
Luca: I think at the end of the day the higher you finish in the standings, the better it is. Of course we’ll try to reach Nicholas [Latifi]. I think the gap more or less stayed the same over the weekend because he gained four points yesterday and I think I got five points back today. Overall I just gained one point. The gap should be 10 points if my maths are right. Abu Dhabi will be key. Winning the championship is of course the best thing overall, but to finish second is for sure better than third. I will try my best to do that in Abu Dhabi.