Two appearances from the Safety Car had the biggest impact on the result of today’s Formula 2 Feature Race in Barcelona. It began with three Ferrari Driver Academy students in the top three places, but race strategies were thrown out the window by the first arrival of the Safety Car on lap 23 and then for a second time eight laps later.
Start. When the lights went out, Robert Shwartzman (Prema Racing) from second on the grid got the jump on poleman and fellow FDA driver Callum Ilott (UNI-Virtuosi Racing) to lead at the first corner, with Mick Schumacher (Prema Racing) third after a great start from fifth. Callum retook the lead on lap 8, passing Shwartzman at turn 1, with the Russian pitting immediately to go from the Option tyre to the Prime. Ilott did the same next time round, leaving Schumacher in the lead. Track temperature was around 50 degrees, the tyres were having a hard time and Mick, who started on the Prime, had to pit earlier than expected on lap 22 as his performance dropped off dramatically.
Out of luck. Things did not work out well for Schumacher, as the Safety Car came out on the next lap which meant the leading drivers could make a second pit stop. Ilott in second, lost out in the frenetic wheel to wheel action, while Shwartzman was managing the situation well in second place when the race was neutralised yet again. Because of the maximum time limit rule, the race was shortened by two laps and when the Safety Car came back in to the pits, there was only one racing lap left to the chequered flag. In those final few moments Shwartzman kept second place, while Ilott lost out and dropped to fifth at the flag, ahead of Schumacher in a race won by Nobuharu Matsushita (MP Motorsport). Third was Guan Yu Zhou (UNI-Virtuosi Racing).
Robert. “I had a good start, but at the first corner I locked the front wheels and in the opening laps I struggled with vibration”, said Shwartzman. “After the first stop I tried to manage my tyres which was the key to today’s raced and I avoided taking any big risks in the chaotic final stages. I want to thank the team for the great strategy and I’m happy to be back on the podium. Now I hope I can have the best possible end to this round with a good result in Race 2.” With today’s result, Ilott still leads the series on 120 points, while Shwartzman has moved up to second on 105.
Marcus and Giuliano. It was a race to forget for Marcus Armstrong. Starting from 19th, the New-Zealander’s race ended just a few metres after the start when he went off the track at turn 4. Giuliano Alesi was also unlucky, after starting from the 12th row, his race ended after a collision with Sean Gelael, after which he had to retire.