Challenging weekend for DAMS in Baku
DAMS had a difficult weekend in Baku in Round 4 of the 2023 FIA Formula 2 Championship, narrowly missing out on points in the Feature Race.
A frustrating qualifying session on Friday saw Arthur Leclerc start both races in 13th, with Australia’s Feature Race winner Ayumu Iwasa 17th.
In the Sprint Race, Red Bull Junior Iwasa had a technical problem and was forced to retire, while Leclerc looked to push into the points late on. Unfortunately, the Ferrari Driver Academy member was involved in a late race incident at the final Safety Car restart, going wide at Turn 1 to avoid an accident ahead and was forced to retire from the race.
Looking to bounce back in the Feature Race, the team split strategies, with Iwasa running very long in the first stint. Both drivers gained positions in the 29-lap event, but fell just short of the points, with Leclerc in 11th and Iwasa close behind in 13th after serving a five-second penalty during his pit stop.
UPDATE: Following the disqualification of another driver, Arthur and Ayumu move up to P10 and P12 respectively, meaning Arthur takes the final point from the Feature Race.
Arthur Leclerc: “It was a difficult weekend, from qualifying onwards. We missed out on our final push lap, which meant we had to start from P13 on both days, which wasn’t ideal. In the races, everyone had similar pace, so it was tricky to overtake. On Saturday I couldn’t do anything at the end, I was trying to push to get into the points but I had to avoid the incident at Turn 1, which meant I went off the track and unable to re-join. We lacked some pace but we will learn from it and look for better at Imola.”
Qualifying: 13th | Sprint Race: 16th | Feature Race: 10th (+1 point)
Ayumu Iwasa: “We were missing some speed all weekend, we didn’t get a second push lap in qualifying but even if we did I don’t think we would’ve been at the front. The car issue on Saturday was frustrating and starting from P17 today we decided to do the alternate strategy. Unfortunately I picked up a five-second penalty under Virtual Safety Car, which cost us a chance of points. The pit stop and the strategy were both really good, so there are some positives to take, but we will look to find more pace at the next round.”
Qualifying: 17th | Sprint Race: DNF | Feature Race: 12th
Charles Pic, Team Owner: “We struggled with the timing in qualifying and both drivers missed out on their final push laps, which made things difficult for the whole weekend. Ayumu had some traffic but I don’t think we had the pace to fight for the top positions. In the Sprint Race, Arthur fought well and points were looking like a possibility before the late incident, where he had to go wide and stop the car. Today we decided to split the strategies to give us the best chance of points. Arthur pitted early to get free air, but all his rivals covered him off so he didn’t gain much time there. After a tough start, Ayumu had a good stint on the mediums but unfortunately he made a mistake under Virtual Safety Car, and the five-second penalty denied him the chance of challenging for the top-10. Overall it’s been a frustrating weekend, but it’s a long season and we will continue to work hard to get back to the front of the pack.”
Image: Dutch Photo Agency