F2 Hungary 2019

The moment we’ve all been waiting for…

The ever-revolving driver door at Trident continued to go around, as Boschung must have sorted out some money and was back, replacing Boccolacci, who replaced Tveter, who replaced Boschung.

Gelael was also back after having a strop last weekend. 

Practice: Gelael marks his return

Gelael made the best possible start to his comeback by almost taking out Ghiotto, by warming up his tyres on the straight just as Ghiotto was blasting past with DRS. Gelael then went on to spin and park himself up at the side of the track.

Latifi was also having a terrible time in last place, because everyone kept getting in his way when he was trying to do fast laps.

Boschung celebrated his return with a big looking crash, that we never actually got to see but the aftermath looked pretty severe, and, according to his blog, he had a brake issue, which is always terrifying. Boschung was thankfully ok, but there was a red flag.

Practice ended with De Vries, Schumacher and Hubert the top three. Latifi only managed 12th in the end.

Qualifying: Spin city

A wet track! I mean, it wasn’t raining or anything, but the ground was wet, which is typically exciting. As there are no intermediate tyres in F2, they all had to decide between regular slicks or full-on wet tyres. Full wets it was, and everything was just a grey mist, although I am assured that there were cars driving around in there.

Just three minutes in, Mazepin became one of the first victims of the wet track, bringing out the red flag. He then had to sit there in the middle of the track, facing the wrong way, while everyone carefully drove around him and back to the pitlane. That was his qualifying over. 

Despite what looked like quite terrifying conditions, De Vries and Ghiotto were killing it, miles (or actually seconds) ahead of everyone else.

As everyone just consistently drove around the track, doing their duty to clear away the water on tyres that last a lifetime, it was mistakes and spins all round, until Latifi unexpectedly launched himself into provisional pole position. Schumacher also started to get his wet-weather legs (let’s face it, it’s in his genes) and catapulted himself up into second place.

De Vries, not to be usurped by his title rival, went on a proper flying lap, taking pole position by almost one second. Ghiotto, once more, was right behind him. Latifi also put in a good lap, pushing Schumacher down to fourth. Leaving De Vries, Ghiotto and Latifi as the top three at the end of the session.

At the press conference, the most important topic was, of course, everyone’s summer plans. De Vries naturally was not even thinking about the summer break because there were still two whole races for him to focus on before that. Ghiotto said his summer plan depended on how is weekend went. Meanwhile Latifi said he hadn’t planned anything yet but that he would go to Canada where his family has “a little cottage on the lake.”

“A little one!?” Nyck laughed. We were all thinking it.

There’s no escaping the penalties…

Hubert and Calderón were both disqualified from qualifying because it was found that Arden had fitted one of Calderón’s wet tyres on Hubert’s car and vice versa. Doh! This was apparently because the team had put the wrong barcodes on the tyres. Double doh! It was decided that both drivers would be able to start the race from a position determined by the stewards, which was apparently 18th for Hubert and 20th for Calderón, which makes perfect sense.

The other person who still had a penalty to serve was Gelael. Yes, that’s right, it seems there’s no running away from penalties once they’ve been dished out. After being given a three-place grid penalty for hitting Delétraz during Free Practice at Silverstone and then having a tantrum about it and pulling out of the whole weekend, the penalty was still there waiting for him. I wonder if he had come back in like three years if it would still be hanging over him. Anyway, as a result he would have to start the race from 19th, between Hubert and Calderon.

Feature Race: Much excitement, but not because of the rain

Yesterday’s rain was well and truly gone and we were supposed to be excited by the fact that there had been no dry running all weekend, like it was all going to be crazy guess work on the tyre data and not that they would just reuse last year’s… but, still, let’s just pretend. How will they all cope!?

De Vries messed up his start, locking up and going a bit too deep into the first corner, leaving Latifi to take the lead, it was three wide and very exciting. Ghiotto, in third behind De Vries and Latifi, was complaining about having massive understeer, but was told he would just have to deal with it.

Not far into the race, Delétraz’s engine blew, with a big plume of smoke. Another unlucky weekend for him and he seemed to finally have lost his cool, “it’s ruining my championship, it’s costing me a lot right now.” This may legit have been the angriest he’s ever been. 

De Vries was the first of the front runners to pit, everyone else choosing to stay out; it worked for him and he managed to maintain his position. Aitken, meanwhile, who had been in fifth behind Ghiotto (third) and Schumacher (fourth), managed to jump them both in the pitstop, eventually putting him in net third place behind Latifi and De Vries. That was, of course, after Ghiotto, Zhou and Latifi all pitted, with UNI-Virtuosi doing a daring double stacking pit stop, F1 style. It was glorious. 

Gelael, living his best life, got a five-second penalty for speeding in the pitlane and there were some actually exciting mid-field battles, that were only exciting at the time of watching and not when writing about them afterwards.

“There’s oil everywhere”

In the closing laps, Boschung’s engine blew up in a big way, causing the safety car to be deployed. Jordan King, who was on the alternative strategy and had been getting a lot of overtaking action and was clearly on his way to reverse gird pole for the Sprint Race (8th place), was disappointed “awww ruined all our fun!” Latifi, on the other hand, didn’t want any more fun and did his best to make sure everyone knew that it absolutely was not safe to start racing again, “there’s oil EVERYWHERE, there’s NO WAY they’ll clear that oil in time.” Success for him. The race ended under the safety car, with Latifi in the lead followed by De Vries and Aitken. 

Confusingly, Ghiotto and King were given five-second penalties for safety car infringements, but then these were taken away again under appeal, as they were in a pack of four cars at the time the safety car came out and it was proven that it wasn’t possible to slow down safely without causing a big incident.

Aitken was proper happy. He apparently had no radio throughout the race but basically worked out his strategy by watching the big TV screens. Whatever works. Latifi tried to make casual chat with De Vries, who pretty much ignored him, but luckily Aitken stepped into the void saving everyone from social awkwardness. Also socially awkward was the woman handing out the trophies, who clearly could not give a fuck, still wearing her sunglasses.

As we now know what everyone has planned for the summer, the press conference raised another important issue of the F2 computer game. Latifi has played the game as himself, but Jack and Nyck are too cool and only have friends who have played as them. Sure. They do, however, all agree that their F2 game selves are a bit fat. The games console adds pounds.

Sprint Race: Just stay ahead of everyone else Mick

Schumacher was the lucky pole sitter for the Sprint Race, followed by Matsushita and King. Co-commentator Johnny Herbert was also on hand to give advice, suggesting that Schumacher concentrate his focus on keeping his lead for the whole race. Solid advice from an ex-F1 race winner there. He knows how it’s done. 

Schumacher did manage to keep his lead at the start. Matsushita tried to go around the outside but ended up off track and then found himself under pressure from Sette Câmara who had passed King for third. Matsushita was having none of it though and, after allowing Schumacher to pull out a bit of a lead, he quickly began closing it back up again.

We had some boring race-pace management for a bit before Sette Câmara got fed up of waiting around and launched his attack on Matsushita. After a bold overtaking move from Sette Câmara, Matsushita took the place back. All this excitement was a clear benefit for Schumacher out front, and despite Matsushita managing to close the gap right at the end, Schumacher kept his lead, to win his first race in F2. The world was elated. I’ve never seen so many F2 headlines in the media before. His mum was happy. “It’s a wonderful day for motorsport” declared Johnny H. Too true, let’s make it an international holiday. Even Jean Alesi was there congratulating Mick. What about your own son Jean? Doesn’t he also race in F2?  He’s standing just over there. 

The crowd gathered around the podium was crazy (by F2 standards), I mean actual people came to watch. The German Ferrari fans were loving it, hoping they can switch allegiance from Vettel to Schumacher soon. Ferrari personnel also gathered.

The pre-podium driver room was set up as some kind of crazy beach, why has no one mentioned that? They just stood there with the sand and the deck chairs like it was totally normal. 

On to the press conference, I bet every accredited media person and his dog were there.

“How does it feel Mick?” “Great.”

“How was the race Mick?” “Not easy.”

Mick is a real pro at this.

Matsushita said what a great job Schumacher did. I suppose if you are going to finish second, being behind Schumacher and basking in some of his spotlight is probably best. Or massively demotivating.

Question after question for Schumacher, some of them utterly pointless. Luckily the Daily Mail was there to raise the quality threshold: “Is your mum here?” Yes Daily Mail, even I know Mick’s mum is there and I’m thousands of miles away sans accredited press pass.

Hours passed and someone eventually asked Matsushita a question… but it was about Schumacher.

Championship? What championship?

Not that anyone cares about the championship anymore because MICK SCHUMACHER WON A RACE, but De Vries is 30 points ahead of Latifi, who is 25 points ahead of Sette Câmara, who is 6 points ahead of Ghiotto, who is 1 point ahead of Aitken. It’s like a numerical reasoning test. Roll on summer!

F2 Hungary 2019
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