Markelov, Gelael and Merhi discuss the race from their perspectives
FIA Formula 2: Welcome to the FIA Formula 2 Championship press conference following today’s Feature Race in Monaco. Joining us are race winner Artem Markelov for RUSSIAN TIME, in second place is Sean Gelael for PERTAMINA PREMA Theodore Racing and in third, Roberto Merhi for MP Motorsport. Artem, starting with you; that was a pretty chaotic morning, but you managed to keep your nose clean. Tell us what it was like from the cockpit.
Artem Markelov: I was trying just to get the flow in the car, and try to manage it all the time. When I started the race I was trying to sit behind the guys and get a good enough gap to the cars behind without destroying the tyres. Then on the second safety car, they [Albon and de Vries] were fighting on the entry of the pitlane and afterwards the speed was getting a bit quicker. When I had a free gap at the front, I was trying to make a gap to the cars behind and make a clear pitstop to finish P1.
FIA Formula 2: You did that very long run on softs, so the strategy paid off for you. How did you manage the tyres; even when they looked worse for wear on the screen, you were still setting fastest laps.
Artem: I was already struggling in the end, but yeah, I just know how to do it and couldn’t say any more than this!
FIA Formula 2: Sean, you took the reverse strategy where you took the early stop, gambled and ran long. You didn’t get the win but it was a very big return – how does that feel for you?
Sean Gelael: Yeah, it was close – once again, thanks to all the team for still believing in us, never say die until the race has finished. I had a bad qualifying, that’s maybe a bit of a trend this year, but our race pace overall has been strong and we knew in the clean air we could undercut the cars in front, I think it was only three guys who had the option tyre. Our start was quite strong so we knew if could take some places there, we’d have a good chance of getting clean air and that went to plan. It never usually does, but this time it did! We had clean air, I was able to jump Boschung after my stop and that secured my podium. After that we had the safety car, and under the new rules I couldn’t catch up the guys in front so I had to push hard not to let Artem get out in front of me – which he did. It is what it is, I’ll take second.
FIA Formula 2: You took your first F2 podium, on one of the trickiest circuits. How does that feel?
Sean: It feels amazing, it’s an amazing experience to be up here with these guys who have achieved a lot as well, especially in Monaco. Again, it’s amazing feeling, and in Monaco they say you can’t overtake – and I overtook two cars and went from 12th to second. We’ve just got to fix the qualifying, and hopefully things will be better.
FIA Formula 2: Coming to you Roberto, this is your first F2 podium as well and only the third podium for your team. What was it like seeing them all below when you were celebrating on the podium?
Roberto Merhi: Yes, it was a really good race for us, in the beginning I had quite a bad start – I dropped the clutch but the car didn’t really move. I lost a position to my teammate, and then in the first corner I had to really brake and someone overtook me there. I think then we did the right strategy, starting on the supersoft, we were thinking in Monaco there’s always a high chance of a safety car. So, on the supersoft, it was less risk to go this way from where we started and it worked very well. And then under the safety car, we had the delta which meant we couldn’t catch the guys in front, and it was out one lap shorter than what we wished. Anyway, we did a very good race and we were quick, the team was informing me of the pace and when the people around me were pushing; I was pushing but everytime I tried to reduce the gap to the guys ahead, I was working the tyres a little bit too much. I tried to manage them as best I could, and it was quite okay in the end. I’m very happy for the team, they did a very good job.
FIA Formula 2: You mentioned that you were frustrated by the safety car, it came in and out a lap too early, but also gave you time to manage your tyres. Do you think without the safety cars, you’d have been able to finish on the podium?
Roberto: When you are in Monaco, your target is to always be in the top five, maybe a podium is a bit optimistic. But again, this is why we started on the supersofts, because it was our only chance to get a podium with a safety car. Tomorrow I will start P6, and again our target will be to get another podium, which will be a good result. But yeah, we need to try to manage the overheating in the tyres, so we’ll be working to calm that down and to be more competitive at the end of the race.
FIA Formula 2: Artem, what are your expectations in the race tomorrow?
Artem: I’ll try to do the same as the guys around me, finish in front and try to get as many points as possible.