SPA PROVES A TOUGH TEST FOR DRIVERS, TEAMS AND TYRES
The epic seven-kilometre Spa circuit, the longest track of the year, provided the usual challenge for drivers, teams and tyres with high-energy forces and variable weather. This contributed to different strategies in Formula 2 and highlighted the importance of tyre management in GP3.
Feature Race, the winner: McLaren junior Nyck de Vries (Prema) won from pole, starting on the soft tyre and then moving onto the medium, with his advantage then wiped out by a safety car. He only lost the lead during the pit stop cycle, before reclaiming it after his rivals made their own stops.
Nyck de Vries: “ It was a tough race, because we were very strong on the soft but lost a bit of the gap after the pitstop. The safety car didn’t really help, but nevertheless we kept it all together. It’s never nice when you build up a gap for the safety car to destroy it, because you’ve consumed tyres for nothing and also you’re under pressure.”
Feature Race, alternative strategy: Many drivers started on soft and then moved onto medium, but Russian Time’s Artem Markelov did the opposite, running a longer first stint to gain track position, then benefitting from the speed of the soft tyre at the end. He claimed sixth by one of the narrowest margins in F2 history: just 0.03 of a second. Four drivers also tried an unusual two-stop strategy, making a second stop under the safety car.
Sprint Race, the winner: Nicholas Latifi won an eventful feature race for DAMS from reverse grid pole, with no compulsory pit stops. Lando Norris (Carlin) claimed second on the last lap to take the championship fight to George Russell (ART), having looked after his tyres well enough to still push hard at the finish.
Feature Race, the winner: David Beckman was the surprise winner for Trident, having also claimed pole position. He finished ahead of his team mate Ryan Tveter, who made an excellent start to gain four places on the opening lap. The track was damp at the start of the race, but all the drivers were still able to use the nominated slick: P Zero White medium.
Sprint Race, the winner: With three different leaders in the opening four laps, there was plenty of action in Sunday morning’s race, which got underway in misty conditions. In the end, Nikita Mazepin led an ART monopoly of the podium, having measured his pace perfectly on the medium tyre.
Pirelli’s head of car racing Mario Isola: “As usual Spa presented some big challenges, both from the weather and the circuit itself. The drivers exhibited a great deal of skill at tyre management in both series and an ability to adapt to different conditions, with a variety of different strategies seen in Formula 2. Despite the heavy demands placed on these high-degradation tyres at Spa, they stood up very well to the punishment, helping to provide some brilliant racing both in Formula 2 and GP3.”
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