TYRE MANAGEMENT KEY IN A HOT WEEKEND OF F2 AND F3 ACTION
The Formula 2 and Formula 3 championships moved from Paul Ricard in France to the Red Bull Ring in Austria for another weekend of action-packed racing. High temperatures once again added to the demands for the young drivers, who were racing on the softest tyres in the respective ranges: soft and supersoft for F2, and soft for F3.
Feature Race, the winner: Carlin driver Nobuharu Matsushita took his first feature race victory after overtaking Nyck de Vries with just five of the 40 laps left to go. From fourth on the grid, Matsushita followed pole-sitter de Vries (ART) in starting on the supersoft tyres and then switching to the softs when the pit window opened on lap six. Excellent tyre management was key to his win, maintaining a strong pace until the end of the race. Luca Ghiotto (UNI-Virtuosi), who pitted one lap later, also passed de Vries for second, but Matsushita pulled away to win by just under three seconds.
Nobuharu Matsushita: “My start wasn't great, it wasn't the best, but after that I think it was the best driving in my career so far in F2. I just tried to follow Nyck, and his pace was also good. I heard from the engineer that my pace wasn't too bad so I just had to keep like this and manage my tyres. I did that and in the end I had more pace than the other guys so I'm happy about that.”
Feature Race, alternative strategy: Six drivers attempted the alternative strategy – beginning on the soft and changing to the supersoft later in the race – from the second half of the grid, led by Prema’s Sean Gelael. ART driver Nikita Mazepin took the lead on the road from Gelael with stronger pace on his soft tyres, but after pitting the Russian finished the race where he started in 12th.
Sprint Race, the winner: Sergio Sette Camara won the sprint race for DAMS from fourth on the grid, taking the lead from Carlin’s Louis Deletraz on lap seven and managing a late safety car restart under pressure from Luca Ghiotto. All the drivers used the soft tyres for the 28-lap race, with Prema’s Mick Schumacher delivering a stand-out performance to go from 18th to fourth.
Race 1, the winner: Juri Vips took his and the Hitech team’s first FIA F3 win from third on the grid. He overtook Max Fewtrell and Marcus Armstrong in the early stages before expertly managing his lead and his tyres in the warm temperatures, under constant pressure from his rivals.
Race 2, the winner: Jake Hughes took the win for HWA after Prema drivers Robert Shwartzman and Marcus Armstrong made contact as they battled for the win on the last lap. Shwartzman crossed the line first but was given a five-second penalty that demoted him to third behind team-mate Jehan Daruvala.
Pirelli’s head of F1 and car racing Mario Isola: “Track temperatures were extremely high this weekend: often in excess of 50 degrees centigrade. Despite these punishing conditions, the softest tyres in our range stood up extremely well to the challenge in both championships. In order to achieve this, careful tyre management was required, with the drivers able to showcase their skills in extracting the maximum performance from the compound without compromising their chances of a strong finish.”