DAMS victorious in Monaco Sprint Race with Ayumu Iwasa
DAMS’ Ayumu Iwasa took his third win of the 2023 FIA Formula 2 campaign with a dominant performance in the Sprint Race at Monaco.
After qualifying ninth, the Red Bull Junior started on the front row for Saturday’s semi-reverse grid event. Showing great pace throughout, Iwasa took the lead on Lap 6 and was in control for the entire race, streaking clear of the field after a late Safety Car restart to win by over six seconds.
In the Feature Race, the Japanese driver picked up a position off the line and was looking to move further through the field before a Safety Car and subsequent red flag allowed others to jump ahead, eventually finishing 10th and claiming the final point.
Arthur Leclerc had promising speed in his debut home event, but an incident in qualifying meant he started both races in 20th. The Monegasque made good progress in the Sprint Race, but a technical issue on Sunday morning forced him to retire.
Ayumu Iwasa: “We started the weekend really well with Free Practice, the car felt great and we were able to finish P1. In qualifying, we were fast again but frustratingly I clipped the inside of Turn 10 and damaged the suspension, meaning the steering wasn’t straight. I was still going quick for my final push lap and making big improvements before the red flag stopped us, which was disappointing. In the Sprint Race I was able to keep the tyres in the right window and secure the win. I had a bit of luck with the retirement of the driver ahead of me, but I was very happy with the car and we had positive pace again. Today I managed to make a position off the line, but the Safety Car and red flag dropped us down to P10 and there was no chance to catch the drivers ahead thanks to the big gap at the restart.”
Qualifying: 9th | Sprint Race: 1st (+10 points) | Feature Race: 10th (+1 point)
Arthur Leclerc: “A frustrating weekend but it was great to experience the track and very special for me to drive here at home for the first time. Free Practice was positive and the car felt really good, unfortunately I pushed too hard in the final corner in qualifying and hit the wall. Having a good grid position is so important in Monaco, it made it an almost impossible task for the two races. We had speed, but overtaking is so difficult here and we weren’t able to make up too many places. We’ve shown we have good pace so far this season, and will look to come back stronger in Barcelona next week.”
Qualifying: 20th | Sprint Race: 15th | Feature Race: DNF
Charles Pic, Team Owner: “After a very positive Free Practice, it was a shame to have such a difficult qualifying session. Both drivers were happy with the car and had high potential, but an incident for Arthur meant he would line up near the back of the field. Ayumu also clipped the wall but was able to continue, and even with bent steering he was set to improve massively on his last lap before the red flag. Starting on the front row for the Sprint Race, Ayu did a good job to manage the lead and he was in control throughout, taking a well-deserved win, his third of the season. The pace he showed proved that we missed an opportunity this weekend, but to come home with a win is still positive for the mindset of the team. In the Feature Race, we were hoping for an early Safety Car and started Ayumu on the super soft tyres. However, the interruption came later, so we lost some positions in that phase, but still managed to pick up a point in 10th. Unfortunately for Arthur, a technical problem meant he had to retire early. We know we have speed, so we’ll look to continue pushing in Barcelona next weekend.”
Image: Dutch Photo Agency