It’s not every week we get to sit down and enjoy the company of Formula 2’s newest feature race winner, but recently we got to do just that as Prema’s very own Frederik Vesti joined the Feeder Series Podcast after his win in Saudi Arabia.
By Torin Budd
After a difficult opening weekend in Bahrain, which saw the Dane not manage to score a single point, a weekend to remember in Saudi Arabia put Vesti only five points off the top spot in the early standings.
Speaking on the Feeder Series Podcast, the Mercedes junior driver and former FREC champion detailed how he reflects on the last 12 months, his return to Prema for his second season in Formula 2, and his triumph in the Saudi Arabia feature race.
A super Sunday in Saudi Arabia
“It was a crazy race! Racing on a street circuit like that where it’s actually quite easy to overtake is quite eventful, let’s say.
“For me, it was the kind of race that just became better and better and better. I think our car was also suitable for a longer race like a feature race where the tyres were really in a good window, and I could really start smelling the victory after the good pit stop we had.”
It wasn’t just the misfortune of others that led Vesti to climb onto the top step of the podium. The Dane’s pace and race management throughout the 28-lap feature race put him in the position to be able to have potentially taken the win even without mistakes by others around him.
“I took it step by step, lap by lap, and when I got closer to victory, of course, [Martins] made that mistake in Turn 4. 11 laps in the lead, and then I finally got my first Feature Race win.”
Vesti’s results in Saudi Arabia saw the Dane score 28 points, moving him up to fourth in the Formula 2 standings and more than making up for his tough start to the season in Bahrain.
Reuniting with Prema for 2023
Vesti and Prema have a previous winning connection before this season, with the Mercedes junior having spent a season in both FRECA and Formula 3 with the Italian outfit.
Vesti dominated the Formula Regional European Championship in 2019 with Prema, taking podiums in all but four of the 24 races. This immense amount of consistency led Vesti to become the inaugural champion of the series, winning by 131 points over Enzo Fittipaldi in second.
Moving into Formula 3, Vesti and Prema hit the ground running. The Danish driver won three feature races in the 2020 Formula 3 season, putting him fourth in the championship in his debut season, only 17.5 points off of his teammate Oscar Piastri, who took the title.
Coming back to Prema really just gives me that last bit of confidence and help to succeedFrederik Vesti
“There is pretty much no words that can [describe] that relationship. I’ve been with Prema in 2019, won the championship. My engineer, Pedro Matos, was back then also my engineer!
“My first year in F3, I won three out of nine feature races also with Pedro and Prema. Having to change to ART, obviously with the hope to have the F3 championship, didn’t happen.
“We were a bit stronger in F2, I think generally, last year, but then coming back to Prema really just gives me that last bit of confidence and help to succeed, and it is a big credit to both Prema and my engineer Pedro.
“They know me so well, and that is a huge advantage when you’re fighting at the top level like this!”
Reflecting on the first two rounds
The first two rounds of the 2023 Formula 2 season brought drama and excitement. For Vesti in particular, there were plenty of talking points from Jeddah, one of them being the crash between his former teammate Théo Pourchaire and current rookie teammate Ollie Bearman in the sprint race that saw the former handed a five-place penalty for the feature race and two penalty points on his licence.
When asked about Pourchaire’s arduous time in Saudi Arabia – made even more frustrating after an impressive opening round in Bahrain – Vesti said, “I can’t really comment on Théo much more than saying he makes mistakes like everyone else.
“It was a big move he did, and sometimes it goes wrong. In Bahrain, I had an incident as well. When you go for it, it happens.
“Ollie was very sad. He was in a good position to score good points in the Sprint Race, and being taken out like that is obviously never great. But he kept his head high and was fighting hard as well on Sunday.”
Header photo credit: Prema Racing
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