Ayumu Iwasa takes fantastic Feature Race comeback podium for DAMS at Monza
DAMS’ Ayumu Iwasa put in a fantastic drive in the Feature Race at Monza in the penultimate round of the 2023 FIA Formula 2 Championship, going from 15th on the grid to second at the chequered flag.
A messy end to a tough qualifying session meant neither Arthur Leclerc nor Iwasa could improve on their second runs, leaving the pair outside the top-ten on the grid for both races.
Ferrari Driver Academy member Leclerc competed strongly during Saturday’s Sprint Race, picking up five places to secure two points for seventh.
On Sunday, Red Bull Junior Iwasa drove superbly on the alternate strategy. Changing tyres earlier than expected during a mid-race Safety Car, the Japanese driver stayed out of trouble in an event featuring several incidents. Combining that with some incredible overtaking moves, Iwasa was able to make his way up to second, claiming a well-deserved 18 points.
Ayumu Iwasa: “I’m really happy with today’s race, the car had great pace and the team did a perfect job with the set-up and strategy. We had to take a risk during the pit stop, changing tyres earlier than planned, but I looked after them and made some important overtakes to clinch another podium. Our full focus is on finishing the season in strong fashion in Abu Dhabi, we need to work together to improve our qualifying pace to give us a better chance of ending the campaign with a win. Thanks to the team for today and looking forward to the final round.”
Qualifying: 15th | Sprint Race: DNF | Feature Race: 2nd (+18 points)
Arthur Leclerc: “Qualifying was frustrating, we struggled to put the tyres in the right window in the first run and then the end of the session was very messy. I tried my best to overtake and get to the front of the pack, but it was really tricky so I wasn’t able to improve my time. In the Sprint, we had good pace and I did my best to come back through the field. I had some really fun battles on track, it was an enjoyable race and I was happy with P7. Today was a shame, I just missed my braking point at Turn 1 and went off track. We’ve got a while until the final race in Abu Dhabi, so we’ll do everything we can in the time off to be ready to finish the season strongly.”
Qualifying: 12th | Sprint Race: 7th (+2 points) | Feature Race: DNF
Charles Pic, Team Owner: “Qualifying was a chaotic session, as always at Monza. In the first run, Ayu made a mistake and Arthur had difficulty getting the tyres to the right temperature, and then it was almost impossible to improve in the messy second run. We were starting from a long way back in the Sprint Race, Arthur performed strongly to make up some positions and score points with P7. Unfortunately for Ayu, a technical issue with a common part on the engine eventually forced him to retire. However, he recovered really well today and put in a fantastic display, moving up 13 positions to earn second place. He was on the alternate strategy and we went aggressive, pitting early. He did a mega job to maintain the tyres and gain positions, so a big well done to him for the driving and to the team for the set-up and strategy.”
Image: Dutch Photo Agency