THRILLING RACING ON 18-INCH F2 TYRES AT SILVERSTONE
There was plenty of exciting racing in the FIA Formula 2 and Formula 3 championships during the British Grand Prix weekend at Silverstone: especially in F2 where strategy with the new-for-2020 18-inch tyres made for two thrilling finishes.
The hard and medium compounds were nominated for F2, and those who made late pitstops to fit the softer tyre were able to use the extra grip to their advantage: not only in the feature race as expected, but also in the sprint race (where pitstops are optional) under a safety car. In F3, only the hard tyres were available, but tyre management was still a factor that helped create close battles.
Feature Race, the winner: Nikita Mazepin scored his maiden victory for Hitech GP after starting fifth on medium tyres. He took the lead around the outside of Mick Schumacher (Prema) on lap three, before both drivers pitted for hard tyres after lap eight of 29. Mazepin showed strong performance throughout the rest of the race, finishing five seconds clear at the chequered flag.
Nikita Mazepin: “I’m very happy because it really feels like a nice progression and I am very pleased for the team. They gave me a fantastic car, which helped me to look after those tyres, and make them last on a difficult track like Silverstone.”
Feature Race, alternative strategy: UNI Virtuosi’s Guanyu Zhou charged through to finish second after beginning the race on the hard tyres from eighth on the grid. Polesitter Felipe Drugovich (MP Motorsport) also started on hards, dropping to fourth on lap one before leading Zhou in the middle part of the race after the medium starters pitted. While Drugovich lost ground with a slow pitstop, Zhou emerged from his stop on lap 21 in eighth and used his fresher tyres to make brilliant progress.
Sprint Race, the winner: Dan Ticktum took a home win for DAMS making his hard tyres last all the way from pole position – but by only 0.3 seconds over Christian Lundgaard, whose ART team pitted him from second place for medium tyres during a late safety car period. Lundgaard was fifth when the race restarted with three laps to go and managed to regain his position, but just fell short of snatching victory.
Race 1, the winner: Liam Lawson took victory for Hitech GP after passing polesitter Logan Sargeant (Prema) in the early stages. Later on, Lawson did not have as strong pace on the hard tyres as Prema’s Oscar Piastri behind him, but managed to defend his position before two safety car periods helped him to secure the victory.
Race 2, the winner: Alexander Smolyar led from pole on the reversed grid to take his first F3 victory in race two with ART Grand Prix. Smolyar managed his hard tyres well to keep David Beckmann (Trident) and Clement Novalak (Carlin) at bay.
Pirelli’s head of F1 and car racing Mario Isola: “Silverstone is well-known as a demanding and high-energy circuit for tyres, which made getting the best out of them particularly crucial. Tyre management was vital for a strong result this weekend, and in Formula 2 we saw a number of different strategic approaches that contributed to exciting and unpredictable races. Even though there was only a single tyre choice for Formula 3, looking after the rubber was just as important: helping these young drivers to develop the skills they need to progress even further up the career ladder. Next weekend the F2 cars will have the hard and soft tyres here, which will be an even bigger challenge – especially if it is hot.”