Carlin’s Yuki Tsunoda has shown astonishing pace one again at the Red Bull Ring securing pole position on Friday afternoon followed by a brilliant second place finish during Saturday’s FIA Formula 2 Feature Race. Tsunoda had been looking likely for a race win however a radio issue meant he was unable to hear the instruction to box for new tyres and subsequently lost out in the pit stops. However, despite this the Honda-backed Japanese driver fought brilliantly to reclaim the positions lost and climb to second place. Teammate Jehan Daruvala had a weekend of ‘what ifs’ and was unlucky to finish outside of the points however the duo can be pleased with the pace shown and look forward to replicating it this weekend in Budapest.
The second of a trio of race weekends was once again held at the Red Bull Ring, Austria and, once again, it was the Carlin drivers of Tsunoda and Daruvala who looked to have the pace from the word go. Topping the opening Free Practice session, even after a switch to a different tyre compound for the weekend, Tsunoda once again seemed to have the measure of the track. Just behind him, Daruvala was also on the pace to finish the session third.
As qualifying got underway once again it was a fast and frenetic 30-minute session for the duo to contend with. Looking sharp, Tsunoda had the upper hand throughout to take the coveted pole position and the additional four-point advantage that came with it. Teammate Daruvala finished to ensure a strong starting position of seventh.
Lining up on the grid for the Feature Race on Saturday afternoon it was clear that the race was going to be a dramatic affair. Already heavily delayed due to rain postponing the previous Formula One qualifying session, the F2 drivers were on the backfoot as they waited for conditions to improve. Starting behind the safety car they got their first taste of the treacherous conditions before they were all called back to the pit lane to wait out the weather.
Eventually the call came through and the race was able to start following a couple of laps behind the safety car. At the front Tsunoda had the best seat in the house and was able to hammer home his advantage over the rest of the field. Building a great gap and consistently putting in incredible lap times the Red Bull junior driver looked to have it covered.
Daruvala however was suffering from spray in the mid field. This, coupled with a small unfortunate mistake, left him out of the points and in 12th – despite showing brilliant potential and engaging in some great battles on track.
However heartbreak would soon follow for Tsunoda who was suffering a radio problem and couldn’t hear his engineer’s call to box for fresh tyres. Eventually he saw the pit board however had lost time on his old wet weather tyres and came out down the order with work to do. Not letting this faze him, he was quick to gain positions on fresh rubber and stunningly worked his way up to second place as the flag fell.
The Sprint Race on Sunday morning was somewhat less exciting for the Carlin pair with Daruvala finishing ninth and Tsunoda unable to finish with a failure.
Tsunoda said of his podium, “Race 1 in the rain condition, I had good pace at the beginning, I just tried to manage the tyres and I think we had a good pace.”
“Until lap 6 the radio was working but after that the radio was not working. I realised that the radio was broken only on the lap before I came into the pits. So it was quite late and also we had a bit of a slow stop, that can happen, I don’t complain about that.”
“After that the pace was good, I came to P2 and tried to catch P1. I just pushed too much in the beginning and used all the tyre. That was my mistake and at the end there was not enough pace to pass for P1 in the last laps.”
“So we got P2, 100% there was the potential to get P1 so it’s a bit sad but I am still happy to get my first podium in Formula 2.”