FIA Formula 2 Jeddah Preview: Wall-to-wall action

FIA Formula 2 Jeddah Preview: Wall-to-wall action

16.03.2023: FIA FORMULA 2 Championship Jeddah International Circuit, Saudi Arabia 17-19 March 2023 Here is what to keep an eye out for this weekend. THE FORM BOOK Two teams will head into the Jeddah race weekend on a high note. Firstly, Campos


FIA FORMULA 2 Championship
Jeddah International Circuit, Saudi Arabia
17-19 March 2023





Here is what to keep an eye out for this weekend.

 

 

THE FORM BOOK



Two teams will head into the Jeddah race weekend on a high note. Firstly, Campos Racing secured their first race victory since 2019 after Ralph Boschung took the first Sprint Race win of the 2023 season.



Rookie teammate Kush Maini more than held his own too, finishing both races in the points, contributing to the Spanish team’s early lead in the Teams’ Standings. Campos is the only team to have scored in both races with both drivers. Can the team keep that streak going?



Théo Pourchaire put the grid on notice in Sakhir Qualifying, threading together a storming lap for pole. He followed that up with an impressive drive to victory in the Feature Race, and the Frenchman enters Round 2 as the Drivers’ Championship leader.



He and new teammate Victor Martins proved that ART Grand Prix are quick out of the box, but will that hold true around a totally different circuit in the Jeddah Corniche Circuit?




THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS


Elsewhere, Rodin Carlin’s Zane Maloney snatched attention on Sunday last time out, rising from P18 on the grid to P3 for his maiden Formula 2 podium.



The Barbadian driver’s stellar effort means the team will be optimistic of carrying that form on around a venue it took Sprint Race victory around in 2022.




Richard Verschoor was another driver on a recovery mission in the Sakhir Feature Race after being tagged into a spin on the opening lap.



The Dutch driver put on a late-race overtaking show, climbing back up to fifth by the chequered flag. Verschoor is confident his new team in Van Amersfoort Racing has all the tools to compete in Jeddah this weekend. He also has strong previous form around the Arabian circuit, finishing the 2022 Feature Race in P2.



Reigning Teams’ Champions MP Motorsport will be aiming to rebound after a bittersweet opening weekend. Dennis Hauger proved the team has strong pace by securing P2 in the Sprint but neither he nor Jehan Daruvala could follow that up with points in the Feature. The team was victorious last year in Jeddah with Felipe Drugovich, so knows how to win around the ultra-quick street circuit.



PREMA Racing, Trident, PHM Racing by Charouz and Invicta Virtuosi Racing will each be aiming to kick-start their seasons and get points on the board after a disappointing opening weekend. Each are more than capable of doing so, with plenty of analysis completed between races.


Frederik Vesti will be contending with a grid penalty though, set back five places following the Lap 1 incident in the Sakhir Feature Race.




RACE STRATEGY



As the case was last season, teams will have the yellow-walled medium compound tyres available to them. What is different for 2023 though is the second tyre Pirelli has brought. One step softer than last year, the purple supersoft tyres will be in action for this weekend’s event, which may open up some strategic options in the Feature Race.



In Qualifying, expect plenty of last-gasp improvements as drivers vie to start their laps as late as possible owing to high levels of expected track evolution. While the mediums are the likely choice for the Sprint, the initial benefits from the faster but more fragile supersofts might lead a few to take a risk on Sunday.


With the fast sweeps and close barriers making overtaking more difficult, gaining an advantage at the initial start and any subsequent restarts could be vital. In this respect, the quicker warm-up and initial grip offered by the supersofts will be a benefit in both scenarios.



Last season, the majority of the top 10 started on the soft compound and gained an immediate benefit, passing those on mediums at lights out by virtue of more grip off the line.



Felipe Drugovich was victorious using this strategy, going from the softs to mediums. This year, with a step softer compound available to the teams, it could sway several to go for the mediums initially instead in order to maximise their initial stint length.




Pirelli Motorsport Director, Mario Isola




“For Jeddah, the P Zero Yellow medium and P Zero Purple supersoft tyres are nominated. This is the same selection we had for our first visit to this track in 2021, while the medium and soft were nominated last year.



Although the track is very fast for a street circuit, and so rather challenging for the drivers, the demands for the tyres are still relatively contained.



"There is also significant track evolution during the weekend, and with Formula 2 qualifying taking place already on Friday – when not so much rubber has been laid down – the drivers will be able to count on the optimal grip provided by the supersoft.



It also means there will be an extra step between the compounds, creating more opportunities with strategy in the races: particularly given that the probability of a safety car is quite high, which always provides an opportunity to try something different”.






- Alexa Quintin, photo Formula Motorsport Ltd




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16.03.2023 / MaP

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