The two Ferrari Driver Academy drivers did not do as well as expected in the Monaco round. Shwartzman, unlucky at the pit stop, missed out on a podium in the Feature Race.
The Monaco weekend was very disappointing for Robert Shwartzman and Marcus Armstrong. The most famous street circuit in the world is a law unto itself and it only takes a bit of bad luck for a good potential to come to nothing. Shwartzman paid dearly for an incident at the start of the first race, but he then came away with a decent points score, finishing fourth in the Feature Race. Bad luck in qualifying affected two of the three races for Armstrong, while a problem with the car wiped out the advantage of his pole position in the second sprint race, which the New Zealander took with a great passing move on Jehan Daruvala.
Qualifying. Because of the traffic problem on the narrow streets, Monaco qualifying is always split into two groups, one for the eleven even numbers and the other for the eleven odd ones. Shwartzman and Armstrong were both in Group B and after a series of laps, Robert set the fastest time, which meant he would start the Feature Race from second position behind the fastest qualifier of all, France’s Theo Pourchaire. “It was a good session, but I was unable to put together the lap I had wanted to,” commented Shwartzman. “But it was still a strong result.” Traffic and a few mistakes meant Armstrong could do no better than seventh.
Race-1. No Formula 1 cars on track on Friday, but the first Sprint Race of the weekend kept the crowd entertained. Shwartzman and Armstrong started from ninth and 14th on the grid respectively. The Russian’s race was soon over however, as he lost control of the car over a bump on the approach to Casino Square, hitting the left hand side barriers. He returned to the pits where it was decided the car was too badly damaged to continue. Armstrong made up two places off the line and then the Australian engaged in a long duel with Jehan Daruvala just ahead of him. In the closing stages, following another car’s retirement, Marcus pushed hard to try and grab tenth place, which would have given him pole for Race-2. He attacked going into Rascasse just before the chequered flag and secured the position, the best he could aspire to, with a masterful move.
Race-2. Armstrong’s hopes of redemption did not last long. As he prepared to line up on the grid in pole position, Marcus had a problem which meant he had to start from the pit lane. It was a terrible shame for the New Zealander, who then had to retire after just three laps. The race got underway on a damp track with everyone on rain tyres, essential on a low grip track like this one and Shwartzman, starting from the back row. He had a tough race, making no mistakes which saw him move all the way up to tenth at the flag.
Feature Race. The grid for the main race of the weekend was decided conventionally according to the qualifying positions, so that Shwartzman was second and Armstrong 14th. Robert maintained his position at the start, staying right behind the leader Pourchaire for 28 laps, at which point he was called in for his tyre change. Unfortunately, there was a problem with the left rear wheel and the time lost cost Robert four places. The Russian thus dropped to sixth with ten laps to go. Shwartzman didn’t waver and kept a good pace, claiming back two places to take the chequered flag in fourth place. Armstrong had a tougher time. Having made up two places at the start, Marcus came in early to change tyres and the strategy saw him move up into the points, but with nine laps remaining, a collision with Juri Vips at Rascasse pushed him into the barriers and his race was over.
Baku. Formula 2 is back in action in a fortnight’s time for the third round of 2021 at the Baku street circuit in Azerbaijan.