Dutch Photo Agency

How Marcus Armstrong Got His First Podium In 370 Days

In a year where DAMS driver Marcus Armstrong vowed to fight for the title, the Kiwi finds himself down in 14th place. And while those hopes are probably all but over, he did find himself back on the podium after more than a year without one.

By Floris Visman

When Marcus Armstrong signed with DAMS in January, he just came off the back of a dismal rookie year in Formula 2 with ART GP. But that did not keep him from speaking ambitious words. “We are aiming for the title”, he said at his presentation. “We’ve discussed that it’s not in my interest to finish second and they firmly agreed because they have the exact same targets. By no means is it going to be easy with such fierce competition, but I feel that when I’m in the right environment with a great team I can really do special things.”

Ahead of the season DAMS co-team owners Gregory and Olivier Driot were happy with their new recruit. “Marcus drove for us in the 2020 post-season test in Bahrain and he gave some great feedback to the engineers.” They were also well aware of Armstrongs ambitions and also had some of their own. ‘It’s going to be an important year for both of us. (…) We won the teams’ title in 2019 and we would like to be back at the top. We are really looking forward to starting in Bahrain.”

It turns out that up until Silverstone Bahrain was his best weekend, and that is not saying much as he only accrued one 5th place (in the Feature Race). That weekend he qualified out of position due to – in his own words – ‘having underperformed’. In Baku he made another costly mistake hitting the wall in Sprint Race 2 causing him to DNF.

Silverstone (UK), JUL 16-17 2021 -Round 4 of the Formula2 Championship 2021 at Silverstone Circuit. Marcus Armstrong #17 Dams. © 2021 Diederik van der Laan / Dutch Photo Agency

But there was also a lot of bad luck over the weekends. For instance he got pushed into the wall at Monaco during the Feature Race and earlier that weekend he stalled on the way to the grid for the second Sprint Race. And in Baku’s Feature Race he got hit in Turn 3 and had to retire.

At Silverstone the Ferrari Academy Driver was close to a win in Sprint Race 2, but he couldn’t get past Richard Verschoor who in turn took his maiden Formula 2 win in his debut year. Armstrong did take his first podium since the second Spielberg round last year. “This podium has been a long time coming. I thought the win was possible but Verschoor got a good start from pole and from there it was a bit of a procession. We put pressure on him but it’s tough when you get so much aero wash from the driver in front”, Armstrong explains.

The soon to be 21-year-old admits that he is not performing up to par, although he is not outright saying it. “The car was extremely strong, it’s a shame we couldn’t extract all the performance in Qualifying but we’re heading to circuits like Monza and Sochi where I’ve had great success in the past. Hopefully this is the start of a good run of results.”

Next round starts September 11 at Monza.

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