Dramatic Formula 2 And GP3 Weekend In Abu Dhabi
The Feature Race winner: Tire strategy was at the forefront of the Formula 2 Feature Race, with very different approaches deciding the outcome. DAMS driver Oliver Rowland started on the supersoft tire and then made an early switch to the soft tire on lap eight, managing this soft tire compound perfectly to the finish. After the race, Rowland and Prema’s Antonio Fuoco were penalized for technical infringements. This promoted Russian Time’s Artem Markelov (who ran an identical strategy to Rowland) and Prema’s Charles Leclerc to first and second respectively.
Artem Markelov: “I had a really good start and tried to get a lead on the guys behind but I was also thinking of tire degradation, so I was trying to look after them and calm down. After my pit stop, I was really struggling on my first two laps with the wheels locking, but I still managed to have a lead over Charles [Leclerc], so I wasn’t worried.”
The Feature Race alternative strategy: Newly-crowned champion Leclerc ran the opposite strategy: starting on the Pirelli soft tire to lead for a large part of the race after the drivers who started on the supersoft tire pitted. He then switched to the supersoft tire on lap 23, but experienced tire degradation at the finish – obeying team orders to let his team mate Fuoco past him.
The Sprint Race winner: Leclerc added to his remarkable season by sealing a seventh win this year on the final lap, when he passed ART’s Alexander Albon, who had led from the beginning. The sprint race was held in warm temperatures, and was all about preserving the soft tire for the duration of the 22-lap encounter, with no mandatory pit stops.
The Feature Race winner: Arden’s Niko Kari triumphed in the Feature Race, which was disrupted by two Virtual Safety Cars, managing his soft tires perfectly at every re-start. The Finn built his victory on a bold overtaking move at the first corner and was never overtaken – despite an intense battle behind him.
The Sprint Race winner: Trident’s Dorian Boccolacci achieved another debut win in the GP3 Sprint Race. His team mate Ryan Tveter, who started from reverse pole, finished second after being overtaken on lap three.
Mario Isola – Pirelli’s Head Of Car Racing:
“Tire strategy was at the center of the Formula 2 Feature Race, which was held in the evening under the lights. The GP3 race was a completely different challenge, all about making the soft tires last in the heat of the day. It's been another thrilling season in which we’ve seen some very exciting races and talented drivers in both championships. We've also been privileged to enjoy another perfect collaboration with the series promoters, who once more have done a brilliant job this year.”
Formula 2 will resume at the 2018 Bahrain Grand Prix Prix from April 7-8, while the GP3 season will recommence in 2018 at the Spanish Grand Prix from May 12-13. However there is a busy testing schedule planned before then, including tests at Abu Dhabi this week.