After qualifying second in Baku last year, Hitech’s Jüri Vips scored his second pole position of the season with an impressive performance on Friday. The Estonian excelled in the Azerbaijani capital in 2021, taking two race wins, and he will be looking to replicate his Feature Race win from last year.
By Tyler Foster
F1 Feeder Series and selected media spoke to Red Bull Juniors Vips and Liam Lawson, the top two from Qualifying, and asked the pair whether they could have a chance at recreating Vips’ success here last year by winning both races this time around.
Vips achieved his first career pole position in Round 3 in Imola earlier this year but failed to score a single point in the races, in part because of a big error in the Feature Race that saw him beach his car in the gravel while running fourth. Nevertheless, he has consistently shown the pace to qualify at the front and once again proved that he is one of the quickest on the grid.
Despite his three podiums this season, Vips is still awaiting his first Formula 2 race victory since visiting Baku last year. Both Vips and Hitech have illustrated that they enjoy the layout of Baku and have the set-up figured out better than most. Last year, Hitech locked out the front row in qualifying, with Lawson on pole ahead of Vips. Incidentally, the two drivers are inverted for the Feature Race grid this year, with Lawson having since moved to Carlin.
Predicting the unpredictable
Speaking about his hopes for this weekend, Vips made clear that the chaotic nature of the Baku City Circuit meant that “anything can happen”. We then asked him whether he believed it possible to win both the Sprint Race and the Feature Race.
“I mean, it’s Baku, so it’s the easiest place to overtake in the end on the whole calendar. If it’s a normal race, it’s going to be really, really difficult, but anything can happen, especially here, so I’m definitely not ruling it out.”
I mean, it’s Baku, so it’s the easiest place to overtake in the end on the whole calendarJüri Vips (Hitech GP)
Vips was not shy about stating that he was going to get his elbows out for the Sprint Race on Saturday, for which he will start in the middle of the pack in tenth. With the circuit playing host to the longest straight on the F1 and F2 calendars, overtaking will not be an issue come race day. This certainly gives someone like Vips or Lawson the opportunity to fight for good points in both races.
Lawson targets victory
Lawson has been competitive since moving to Carlin, but he has struggled for consistency despite being one of the most highly rated drivers on the current F2 grid. We asked Lawson whether he thought he could fight for victory in both races.
Our car felt really good today, so I think there’s every opportunity to fight for wins this weekendLiam Lawson (Carlin)
“As you said, we were strong here last year, so I knew going into this weekend that Hitech were going to be strong again. Our car felt really good today, so I think there’s every opportunity to fight for wins this weekend, hopefully in the Feature Race. That’s definitely the target, but a lot’s going to happen before then. As Jüri said, there’s a lot more opportunities to overtake on this track, so it’s about maximising those.”
Meanwhile, Prema’s Dennis Hauger carried the momentum from his maiden Formula 2 win in Monaco into Qualifying, taking third ahead of the other Hitech of Marcus Armstrong. Championship leader Felipe Drugovich qualified fifth, while the next two drivers in the standings, Théo Pourchaire and Jehan Daruvala, were further down in twelfth and eighth respectively.
Header photo credit: Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool
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