ATRL’s Mees Drijgers updates you on how the 2021 F2 British Grand Prix played out, in particular for Shwartzman, Verschoor, and Zhou.
Round 4 of the FIA Formula 2 championship took place at Silverstone Circuit, with the weekend starting with one Free Practise session and Qualifying on Friday. The FP session was early in the afternoon, and even though the drivers had a break between rounds, the field was pretty close. The top 10 drivers were within a second of each other, with Dan Ticktum topping the time sheet that afternoon, setting the fastest time of 1:41:750, closely followed by Oscar Piastri and Juri Vips. During Qualifying, Oscar Piastri scored his first pole position of the season, clocking a 1:39:854 on the board after a mega lap early on in the session. He was the only driver to set a lap in the 1:39s and lined up in front of Guanyu Zhou and Richard Verschoor on Sunday.
Sprint Race 1
Saturday morning’s first Sprint Race saw Christian Lundgaard start from reverse grid pole position after setting the 10th fastest time on the Friday before this session. The Alpine Academy driver locked out the front row together with Red Bull junior Juri Vips, who was disappointed about his qualifying laps but still managed to score his third podium of the season.
Robert Shwartzman, who started from 4th on the grid, profited the most at the beginning of the race; he took the lead before turning the first corner, closely followed by Vips in second and Lundgaard in third. Despite the multiple neutralisations during the race that prevented Shwartzman from creating a dominant lead, he managed to hang on to first position all way through, winning his third race of the season and scoring PREMA their fourth victory.
During Sprint Race 1, the Safety Car was deployed three times. The first Safety Car involved championship leader Guanyu Zhou, and Williams academy driver Roy Nissany, who both spun on track and were unable to continue. The second Safety Car was deployed a few laps later when Alessio Deledda of HWA Racelab came to a halt in the middle of the track after losing the rear. The last Safety Car was caused by Charouz’ Guilherme Samaia, who ended up in the gravel and could not return to the track.
In between Safety Cars, Lawson and Piastri battled for 6th position. Their close but clean battling went on for the first 7 laps of the race, with the deployment of Safety Cars playing a significant role. Eventually, Piastri had the upper hand and finished in 6th place ahead of Liam Lawson in 7th, who had defended for quite some laps.
Pit stops are not obligatory during Sprint Races; however, Dutch team MP Motorsport decided to call in Richard Verschoor during the third Safety Car as he went from hard tyres to mediums. He dropped back to 14th, but his tyre advantage allowed him to battle his way through the field, gaining four positions and finishing the race in 10th. This would later allow him to start the second Sprint Race of the Saturday from pole position.
After the first Sprint Race, five drivers were classified as DNFs: Zhou, Nissany, Deledda, and Samaia all were unable to finish the race. Marino Sato, driving for Trident, spent 4 laps in the pits where his mechanics tried to repair damage. Having only completed 17 of the 21 laps, he was not classified at the end of the race. Robert Shwartzman was the first to cross the chequered flag; Juri Vips came second, and Christian Lundgaard scored his second podium of the season. No penalties were given during or after the race. Zhou’s retirement meant that both PREMA drivers had overtaken him in the standings; Piastri now leads the championship, only 2 points ahead of teammate Robert Shwartzman.
Sprint Race 2
Richard Verschoor’s different pit stop and tyre strategy during Sprint Race 1 saw the young Dutchman take reverse grid pole position for the second Sprint Race, locking out the front row with DAMS driver Marcus Armstrong. Both drivers had a decent start, maintaining their position, with Ticktum, Lawson, and Piastri following close behind. Christian Lundgaard, after his podium earlier in the day, had the worst start; he was forced to start from the pitlane after not being able to get off the start at the beginning of the formation lap.
Verschoor was unable to create a decent lead at the beginning of the race due to two Safety Cars at the start of the race. The first one was deployed after a nasty crash between Ralph Boschung and Alessio Deledda. The Campos driver spun and ended up in front of the Italian; both drivers walked away unharmed. The second Safety Car was deployed a few laps later, after Red Bull junior Jehan Daravula made contact with Bent Viscaal; Daruvala received a 10 second time penalty for causing a collision.
The main battles of the afternoon’s race were fought at the front of the field; after their battles in the morning, Lawson and Piastri continued their on-track endeavors from the opening lap till lap 18, where Piastri took 4th position after strong defending from Lawson. Only a few tenths separated Armstrong and Ticktum in second and third place, respectively, and despite various attempts from the young Brit to take second place, Marcus Armstrong would be able to fend him off and take the 12 points home.
Drivers struggled with grip all weekend, with Lawson reporting the lack of grip over the radio during the first Sprint Race. Jack Aitken, who replaced Matteo Nannini at HWA Racelab, also complained about no grip after losing the rear of the car during one of the later laps in the race. Robert Shwartzman saw himself drop out of the points after spinning on the very last lap, finishing in 15th position.
At the end of the second Sprint Race, three drivers were classified as DNFs: these were Deledda, Boschung, and Viscaal. Jehan Daruvala was the only driver to get a penalty during this race; he was awarded a 10 second time penalty for causing a collision. Verschoor led from start to finish, winning his first race in Formula 2. Marcus Armstrong and Dan Ticktum completed the podium.
Piastri was still the championship leader, extending the gap to Shwartzman after the Russian missed out on points. Zhou dropped to 4th after missing out on points two races in a row, with Vips now in third.
Sunday’s Feature Race saw Oscar Piastri start from pole position after setting the fastest lap during Friday’s qualifying session. He had a decent start but lost his lead to Guanyu Zhou, who overtook him before the first corner; Ticktum had overtaken Verschoor at the start, making up one position.
As soon as the pit window opened, drivers such as Lawson, Ticktum, Shwartzman, Boschung, Armstrong, and Beckmann all switched out their medium tyres for hard ones. This paid off especially for Dan Ticktum, who eventually took second position, which he maintained throughout the race.
Though the Safety Car was not deployed on Sunday, two penalties were awarded for unsafe releases in the pitlane. Christian Lundgaard received a 10 second stop/go penalty after his tyre bounced off the car because it was not properly attached. David Beckmann was awarded a 5-second penalty for an unsafe release.
Sunday’s Feature Race brought along many battles, happening all throughout the field. Oscar Piastri managed to keep Richard Verschoor behind all race, which scored him his fifth podium of the season. Liam Lawson managed to keep fellow Kiwi Marcus Armstrong and his DAMS teammate Roy Nissany behind him. Shwartzman, Drugovich, Pourchaire, and Vips all found themselves in a little DRS train, a few tenths being all that separated them; Juri Vips profited the most and managed to overtake Pourchaire to finish the race ahead of him.
At the end of the race, no drivers were classified as DNFs. Two penalties were awarded for unsafe releases in the pitlane; one for ART driver Christian Lundgaard and one for Charouz’ David Beckmann. After a disappointing weekend, Guanyu Zhou managed to win the Feature Race, with Dan Ticktum one step below him. Oscar Piastri completed the podium after having defended from Verschoor for the whole race. Piastri still leads the championship, with Robert Shwartzman in second and Guanyu Zhou reclaiming his third position.
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