F2 VICTORY FROM 18TH ON THE GRID ON 18-INCH TYRES IN SPAIN
Tyre strategy was key to the action in Formula 2, where the feature race was won from 18th on the grid. A wide range of different strategies were seen, with the P Zero White hard and P Zero Red soft 18-inch tyres, helping to create an exciting finish. There was also close racing in Formula 3 on hard-compound 13-inch tyres, in very warm conditions all weekend.
Feature Race, the winner: Nobuharu Matsushita won from 18th on the grid for MP Motorsport. He started on the hard tyre which appeared to be the slower strategy: Matsushita was overtaken prior to his pitstop by Callum Ilott (UNI-Virtuosi), who had already pitted and regained the lead on lap 24. A safety car one lap later, decisive to the race, allowed Matsushita to make his pitstop for soft tyres and rejoin in third, with Ilott one of many drivers to make a second stop for soft tyres. Matsushita then managed to overtake both Ilott and Yuki Tsunoda (Carlin), who had stayed out on hard tyres.
Nobuharu Matsushita: “We had mega pace today, plus the safety cars, so everything got mixed up. After the safety car I think I did a really good job to fight with top guys, so I'm really happy. My stop was actually supposed to be five laps earlier, but I extended my stint because my pace was great compared to the others. My engineer told me to box and then the safety car came out. It was perfect timing.”
Feature Race, alternative strategy: A number of different strategies were used. Robert Shwartzman (Prema Racing) and Guanyu Zhou (UNI-Virtuosi) finished on the podium having both switched from soft to hard on lap eight, one lap before the leader Ilott, and they also pitted for another set of softs under the safety car. Ilott ended up fifth behind Tsunoda and ahead of Mick Schumacher (Prema Racing), who like Matsushita had started on the hard tyre and led the middle part of the race, but pitted just before the safety car was deployed and so dropped further back.
Sprint Race, the winner: Felipe Drugovich secured a double victory for MP Motorsport, getting ahead of Luca Ghiotto (Hitech GP) at the start and making his hard tyres last well over the 26-lap distance, winning by 9.5 seconds. Mick Schumacher took third for Prema. Some other drivers pitted late in the race for soft tyres, but those who did so all finished outside of the points.
Race 1, the winner: Jake Hughes took victory for HWA Racelab ahead of Liam Lawson (Hitech GP) and Logan Sargeant (Prema Racing). Championship leader Sargeant started from pole position for the third race in a row but lacked the race pace on hard tyres to fend off Hughes and Lawson, who both overtook him on the outside of the first corner in a race affected by two safety cars.
Race 2, the winner: Oscar Piastri took his second F3 win from fifth on the grid, claiming the lead within the first few corners of the race. The Prema driver maintained the lead through two safety car restarts to beat Alex Peroni (Campos Racing) and Matteo Nannini (Jenzer Motorsport).
Pirelli’s head of F1 and car racing Mario Isola: “The key to the feature race was making the most of all the safety cars and adapting the race strategy to fit this situation. This worked very well for Nobuharu Matsushita, whose skilful driving to look after the tyres put him in the right place to win the race in these extremely challenging and hot conditions. It was a similar story in the sprint race on the hard tyre, with some drivers taking the tyres to the end of their wear life a few laps from the finish, and then having to make a pit stop. Tyre management was equally important on the hard in the F3 races, with no compulsory pit stops: congratulations to Matteo Nannini on his first podium.”