THOUGHTS FROM PIQUET, SHWARTZMAN AND DARUVALA
FIA Formula 3: Hello and welcome to today’s FIA Formula 3 press conference following the opening race here at Spa. We are joined by the top three finishers from Race 1. Your race winner Pedro Piquet from Trident, in second place Robert Shwartzman from PREMA Racing and in third place Jehan Daruvala from PREMA Racing. Pedro, your first win of the FIA Formula 3 season, how does it feel to get this under your belt finally?
Pedro Piquet: Really good. Since the beginning of the weekend we’ve had the speed so I knew I had the car to fight for the win. It was just about getting a clean start, not getting involved in any crash and I knew after that I could be competitive. In the beginning I could open a big gap and in the end it was just about managing the tyres because here at this track it is quite hard on them.
FIA Formula 3: Could you talk us through that start and that move on Jehan that you got going up the hill, and then how you built that gap up to pull away?
Pedro: My jump was pretty good but I was not in front of him to overtake. Going up Eau Rouge on the first lap I think the cars are a bit heavy and quite close. He bottomed a lot and lost quite a bit of speed. I think after Eau Rouge I was already almost passing him and then got the move done. After that some guys were fighting behind me because every lap I would see a different coloured car, so for me that was good because I could make the gap. At the end I was not abusing the tyres a lot and I tried to keep a gap to Robert.
FIA Formula 3: Congratulations on your win. Robert moving on to you now. Back on the podium after a really good charge through the field and a number of exciting battles. Could you talk us through those and the moves you were able to pull?
Robert Shwartzman: The start generally was quite good. I tried to get past [Yuki] Tsunoda straight away but he was squeezing me out and it was a bit of a dangerous situation so I decided I should not risk it on the first lap. I backed off and I was in P4 coming into Les Combes, defending there, side-by-side with Leo Pulcini. We were side-by-side for a whole section and then at the exit he squeezed me out a little bit. I bottomed out on the kerb and had to back off as well, so I was fifth. My target was just to stay calm and save the tyres because I knew in the straight you can overtake, and plus we have quite good speed, so I was just taking it easy. Guys in front were fighting and in the first three laps I was just not pushing because I knew it was pointless. There was already a group of three people in front and to be the fourth was quite pointless. As soon as they had a little gap between each other that’s when I started to catch them and then I got past Tsunoda, Pulcini, and then I caught Jehan. I thought because he had quite good pace at the time that we could go together with DRS and try to catch Pedro, so I got past him and then my target was just to go as quickly as possible. After a few laps I saw Jehan was struggling a little bit with the tyres so I knew that I needed to just push on my own, and basically the last seven laps I was doing my best to catch Pedro. We caught up a little bit but it was definitely not enough because the gap was generally big. I’m happy because the race was good. We collected good points and the pace is good. Even though I had a lot of fighting we managed to keep good pace until the end. I’m happy. Thanks to the team because we had a good start and good improvement.
FIA Formula 3: Collected good points as you said, extending your championship lead as well. We’ve got five races to go now, how important is this podium going into the final stretch?
Robert: It’s really important because every point counts. The championship is really tight. I’ve got a small gap but tomorrow is another race, another target to collect some good points and to increase the gap. That’s the target every time now.
FIA Formula 3: Well done today. Jehan moving on to you now. Starting on pole at Spa, it’s always difficult. It’s such an easy place to overtake, but how was your race? How was it trying to defend with all these cars behind?
Jehan Daruvala: Firstly, on lap one, with heavy fuel I bottomed out a lot through Eau Rouge so Pedro just basically flew by my before Les Combes. Actually on the first lap I felt pretty confident. I could stay pretty close to him, but then the virtual safety car came out in the last chicane and somehow I lost a lot of time. I was following my delta but he was like three or four seconds ahead. I knew that with VSC, when it restarts, the guys behind me are going to have DRS so it was going to be quite tricky for me. That’s basically what happened. I allowed Leo [Pulcini] to go by me hoping I could use the DRS to get him back but it didn’t really work out that way. I worked my way back to second but to be honest I just wasn’t fast enough to fight for the win. I still got good points and let’s see what I can do tomorrow.
FIA Formula 3: You said about letting Leonardo Pulcini past you, do you have to have a different tactical approach when it comes to racing at Spa, when you use DRS and when you try and make these passes?
Jehan: Sometimes yes, but also he’s quite on the aggressive side and he gave me a big squeeze, so I didn’t really want to risk too much with him because he’s not in the title fight. I knew I could get past him because the car was good yesterday, but at the end of the day I wasn’t fast enough to win.
FIA Formula 3: Well done on the podium. Pedro, coming back to you now, we’ve seen a number of charges through the field today and a number of overtakes. You’re starting P8 on the reverse grid but I guess of all the places to be starting P8 Spa is a pretty good one.
Pedro: Yeah I think for sure. Here and Monza are the tracks you can make the most of. Starting from the back, if you have a good car, you can get to the front. That’s our target for tomorrow. I’ll try to finish as far forward as possible.