Image: Shwartzman won a wet F2 feature race
The second consecutive weekend of Formula 2 and Formula 3 action at the Red Bull Ring was very different from the first, thanks mostly to heavy rain on Saturday. The available slick compounds (used in the dry qualifying sessions on Friday as well as the races on Sunday) were also different compared to round one. Formula 2 used the P Zero Yellow medium and P Zero Purple supersoft tyres, while Formula 3 had the P Zero White hard tyre.
Feature Race, the winner: Prema’s Robert Shwartzman won an exciting F2 feature race that was delayed and then shortened due to rain. The conditions meant a debut for the new 18-inch Cinturato wet-weather tyres, which the teams weren’t familiar with, having undertaken their pre-season testing in the heat of Bahrain. Carlin’s Yuki Tsunoda led from pole but left his mandatory pitstop later than his rivals after a radio issue meant he couldn’t hear the call to pit. UNI-Virtuosi driver Guanyu Zhou briefly gained the lead but was passed by Shwartzman, who had superior pace on the drying track and could hold off Tsunoda on fresher tyres in the closing laps.
Robert Shwartzman: “The strategy was mega, so big thanks to the team. We changed tyres quickly and when I exited the pit lane I was behind Zhou. I saw him struggling with grip as it started to get drier, and I managed to get past. Then I tried to push but Yuki was behind me. It was very close, but I managed to save first place. I'm really happy.”
Feature Race, alternative strategy: Although the track dried considerably over the course of the race, none of the drivers tried using a slick tyre at the end. While Tsunoda didn’t pit until lap 26 of 36, DAMS driver Dan Ticktum stopped after just seven laps (from the bottom half of the field) and managed to make his new tyres last for the rest of the race. This allowed him to finish in eighth place, claiming pole position for the sprint race on Sunday.
Sprint Race, the winner: ART’s Christian Lundgaard won the sprint race from third on the grid, with all the drivers using the medium-compound P Zero slick tyres on a dry track. He took the lead from Ticktum in the early stages and managed his tyres effectively over the rest of the race.
Race 1, the winner: Prema driver Frederik Vesti won in the wet, leading from pole until the race was red-flagged after 13 of the scheduled 24 laps because of worsening conditions. The rain arrived only just before the race, so several drivers initially selected slicks, but had to pit for wets after the formation lap.
Race 2, the winner: ART’s rookie Theo Pourchaire became the championship’s youngest-ever winner aged 16. In dry conditions, he led from pole position before being demoted to third. However, he got the lead back when Liam Lawson (Hitech) and Jake Hughes (HWA) collided, with the race finishing under the safety car.
Pirelli’s head of F1 and car racing Mario Isola: “An exciting and mixed weekend in Austria gave our 18-inch Cinturato full wet tyres their debut in Formula 2. Although the drivers had no experience of them previously, the grip they generated in the extreme conditions allowed some exceptional performances and a thrilling race to be run. With both wet and dry weather, the drivers and teams had to rapidly react to changing conditions, working out how to get the most from their tyres.”
Both championships move from Austria to neighbouring Hungary next week for the third round of the season at the tight and twisty Hungaroring.