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Monaco F2 Formula 2 Vesti Pourchaire Maloney red flags

F2: Monaco feature race red flag was the ‘perfect scenario’ for front-runners

Formula 2 raced in Monaco last weekend on the streets of the Principality, which saw incidents in every session of the weekend

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The Feature Race in Monaco for F2 saw a red flag suspend the race but for front-runners Frederik Vesti, Théo Pourchaire and Zane Maloney, the timing was the “perfect scenario”. 

F2 Vesti Monaco podium
Frederik Vesti after winning the Feature Race in Monaco for F2 (Credit: Twitter: @Formula2)

Formula 2 arrived in Monaco last weekend for the fifth round of the 2023 season. Coming into the weekend, Théo Pourchaire of ART Grand Prix was leading the championship. However, after Qualifying and both the Sprint and Feature Races, it’s PREMA Racing’s Frederik Vesti that now leads the charge.

Friday’s Qualifying was split in two to allow the 22 F2 drivers a chance to set a flying lap without traffic. After both groups had completed their sessions, it was Vesti that took pole position with a 1:21.053.

The Sprint Race saw Red Bull Junior Ayumu Iwasa take the victory. This then pushed the DAMS driver to the top of the championship; however, Vesti was able to convert pole position to a race victory in the Feature Race. The Dane took home the 25 points and is now the championship leader.

The Feature Race also saw a red flag after Invicta Virtuosi Racing’s Jack Doohan crashed. Doohan hit the barrier, which resulted in his car catching fire. The red flag was brought out to clear the track so it was safe for the Feature Race to continue.

In the post-race press conference, FormulaNerds asked the three podium-sitters how the red flag affected their race.

Podium-sitters’ thoughts on the race

Speaking to FormulaNerds, the Monaco Feature Race winner, Vesti, said:

“I just want to say that it [the red flag] helped us a bit, all of us that already pitted. This was quite nice because we could pit under the safety car and then we had the break so the difficult part of the race was done before we had the break.

“I think in the case that we still had a lot of the pitstops to go, there’s a bit more pressure for sure. But I just tried to stay in the sun and prepare to get back in the car.”

As the Safety Car came out before the red flag, that allowed Vesti, Pourchaire and Victor Martins to pit and change tyres. However, for Martins, whilst he was in the top three for the majority of the race, he received a drive through penalty for failing to slow under yellow flags. This meant Maloney was then in third.

Pourchaire, who is looking to be a main title challenger against Vesti, told FormulaNerds that the red flag was beneficial.

The Frenchman said:

“It was a very tough race mentally as well with the red flag and the safety car. You have to keep your car on the track without touching the walls and pushing hard.

“We pitted just before the red flag so it was the perfect scenario for the front-runner guys.”

Whilst Pourchaire believes the red flag was the “perfect scenario”, Maloney feels that it didn’t really affect anyone greatly. The Bajan driver, who was behind Doohan on track at the time of the crash, commented on the break in the race, saying:

“Pitstops were finished so it was more bring it home to the chequered flag as quickly as you could. But no pressure otherwise, so it didn’t really affect anyone, I don’t think.”

Looking ahead to Barcelona

The first five rounds of the season have been completed and four of them have been at street circuits. Now, F2 is heading to Barcelona next weekend, which is a more traditional race track.

In the press conference, all three podium-sitters touched on next weekend. Vesti said that for him, the main challenge is to switch his mindset. He said:

“The street circuits are now done and we go back to the normal tracks. Obviously, we had the test in Barcelona. Street circuits, you learn a lot as a driver, you need to be really confident with the car.

“If you’re not confident, it’s very difficult to race, for example in Monaco. Now the challenge is to switch back the mindset to more normal racing and looking forward to that.”

Vesti F2 Barcelona
Frederik Vesti drives on track during in-season testing in Barcelona. (Photo by Alex Caparros – Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images)

For Pourchaire, he has been rather consistent throughout the season so far. The ART Grand Prix driver expressed the team’s happiness with “the balance of the car” on both street circuits and “normal race tracks like Bahrain”. So, with Barcelona and the European stint of the season, Pourchaire feels confident.

He said: “I’m confident for the rest of the season, in the Barcelona test we were quick as well, so let’s hope for a good more-than-second-half of the season.”

Whilst Vesti and Pourchaire have raced in Formula 2 before, Maloney is in his rookie season. The Bajan driver admitted in the post-race press conference that he has struggled with the car. He told the media:

“I was P18 in Jeddah and now two months later, I’m P3 here in Monaco so it shows how well of  a job the team are doing to get me up to pace. Initially, I struggled a little bit with the F2 car, still am, but we’re getting there so they’ve done a great job.

“I’m really looking forward to getting to tracks that I’ve done many times in my career and I’ve always been quick at so looking forward to Barcelona next weekend.”

Round six of the season

Both F2 and F3 are racing alongside Formula 1 next weekend on June 2nd-4th. The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is a track all of the F2 grid know from previous series and testing as well.

Last year, Felipe Drugovich had a dominant weekend, winning both the Sprint Race and the Feature Race. With only five points between Vesti and Pourchaire, will we see a double win from one of them? And will the championship lead swap hands?

Headline Image: Twitter @Formula2

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