The great British weather brought about intermittent rain on Saturday, with Virtuosi’s Jack Doohan taking his maiden victory in Formula 2 after a dramatic Sprint Race at Silverstone. The Australian started in fourth but mastered the slippery track surface with excellent tyre management and pace.
By Tyler Foster
With no intermediate tyres available in Formula 2, the wet tyres were used for the first time since Monaco last year. After a downpour that started earlier during the F1 qualifying had caused tricky conditions, the rain stopped, enabling the track surface to dry throughout the race. This led to the rapid overheating of the wet tyres and the subsequent need to manage them.
Both reverse-grid pole-sitter Jehan Daruvala and Charouz’s Enzo Fittipaldi, who started on the front row together, had a strong start, but the pair’s pace was compromised later in the race after they pushed early on and burnt their wet tyres out. Daruvala ended up finshing eighth, picking up only one point as a result of his lack of conservation in the opening laps.
Meanwhile, Fittipaldi was at one point leading the race after pressuring Daruvala into a slight error on the approach to the Hamilton Straight on Lap 5. But Doohan was the driver who made best use of the scenario and subsequently overtook Fittipaldi, who made his error on Lap 7. Japanese rookie Ayumu Iwasa charged up to second before he ran out of laps to catch Doohan.
After the race, F1 Feeder Series spoke to Doohan, Iwasa and Fittipaldi, the top three finishers from the race, asking them each about their approach to the tyres and the drying conditions.
Waiting for opponents to slow
Race winner Doohan moved up to seventh in the championship and finally achieved his goal of winning. He managed pole position twice earlier in the season but both times missed out on victory. The Aussie talked us through his overtakes and how he secured his first win in Formula 2.
“It was a similar situation to Paul Ricard last year in F3. Kind of wet start, obviously, but [a] drying race. That was kind of the feeling that we were getting, and the team knew. At that point, in the first four or five laps, it was so crucial not to stress the tyre at all. To be honest, I was on quite different lines from the start than everyone else. Really, if it meant sacrificing pace just to keep the tyres cool, then that’s what I was doing,” Doohan said.
“I didn’t really try and push forward, to be honest. They just started to drop the pace at the front, and I was able to have a go into Turn 3. I wasn’t actually going to go past Enzo, as he had quite strong pace, but I think he locked up the front right going into Turn 3.
“I honestly didn’t expect to pass him on the dry line, and when I saw I had the shot, I used the rear a little bit more to get in front. From there, I was able to manage the pace depending on how quick the guys were behind.”
Iwasa’s surprise surge
A big surprise on Saturday was Iwasa. The rookie started fifth but followed Doohan through the podium places with a mid-race surge – overtaking Jüri Vips, Daruvala and finally Fittipaldi – in order to secure his second Sprint Race podium of the year. In the final laps, he closed in on Doohan but wasn’t able to find that extra pace to pass him.
“I couldn’t imagine how the tyres were going bad,” Iwasa said. “I was thinking the tyres would be difficult [to manage], especially on the rear. I was trying to manage it. Actually, in Imola, I think we had a similar situation in qualifying. Also, I was trying to find the wet parts on the straight. I could see Jack’s line, but I didn’t see any wet spray, so it was really difficult conditions.”
Fittipaldi happy to ‘maximise the result’
Despite losing the led of the race, Fittipaldi was content with his performance, and with it, he rises to fifth in the championship on 56 points.
“Honestly, I think once you’re at the front, you have a clean track,” Fittipaldi said. “So it should actually be easier to manage your pace, but we simply didn’t have the pace that these two boys next to me had. We were able to maximise the result today.”
“It was difficult in the beginning to control the tyres. It’s really complicated. At some points, you are using the inside of the track to get the tyres wet, and then it starts drying up and then you have to go to the dry line. It’s always changing, so I think it really makes a big difference on how your car balance is on the first lap and how you and your team approach the race.
“Each team and each driver approached it differently. As you saw, I think me and Jehan were a bit more similar. We were really fast in the first couple of laps and then we just dropped off.”
For the Feature Race, American Logan Sargeant of the Williams Driver Academy starts on pole, with Danish Mercedes junior Frederik Vesti alongside him. The top two in the championship, Drugovich and Pourchaire, will start on the second row. Formula 2 will provide a number of great on-track battles for the fans in the capacity crowd at Silverstone on Sunday. The race starts at 10:05 BST (11:05 CEST).
Header photo credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd
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