Gutsy drive earns Marcus his maiden Formula 2 victory
Marcus Armstrong secured a richly-deserved maiden FIA Formula 2 victory with a gutsy drive in the opening race of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend.
Formula 1’s newest venue – the ultra-fast Jeddah Corniche street circuit in Saudi Arabia – played host to the penultimate round of the 2021 FIA Formula 2 season. The track is uniquely high-speed for a street track, and there’s little margin for error on the tight circuit.
An important qualifying result
Marcus’ weekend began on a strong note as he ended the opening 45-minute practice session fifth-fastest, taking little time to become acquainted with the new circuit.
Qualifying at Jeddah was no easy task given how little space on the track there was for all of the 22 F2 drivers, but Marcus made the best of it to post the ninth quickest time.
With the top 10 in qualifying reversed to form the grid for the opening sprint race, this crucially earned Marcus a front row start alongside Liam Lawson.
Ferrari Academy Driver Marcus knew that the race start would provide the best opportunity to seize the race lead, with passing opportunities at the brand new circuit expected to be limited.
Marcus had a similar initial getaway off the line to poleman Lawson, but Marcus bravely darted to the inside of Lawson and with some late braking and inch-perfect car placement, he emerged from the opening turn in the lead.
The race was quickly neutralised with the safety car after a collision further down the pack, but Marcus craftily held his lead when the race restarted – a trick he’d repeat when the virtual safety car was deployed a few laps later.
A late-race safety car set up a three-lap duel for the lead, with Marcus needing to hold back the charging pack to secure his maiden F2 win.
Marcus managed this expertly and despite immense pressure from Lawson, Marcus didn’t put a foot wrong and held on for a beautifully controlled victory, crossing the line just half a second ahead of Lawson.
It marks Marcus’ first Formula 2 victory:
“It feels fantastic because it's been sort of a tough 18 months in general so to finally get that first win feels good. Also to see the smiles on a lot of my engineers' faces, and my mechanics as well, it's a great reward for a lot of work that hasn't really been rewarded so far this season.”
Frustration follows victory
Marcus began the second race from 10th position on the grid as the top 10 results of the opening race are reversed to set the grid for the second sprint race.
From the beginning Marcus wasn’t given a fighting chance as he was wiped out by a late braking competitor in the opening turn at the race start. It brought Marcus’ race to a frustrating premature end, but he was aware that he would have another chance at a strong result in the feature race where he will start ninth on the grid.
Sunday’s feature race started off with a series of delays and aborted starts but once it eventually got underway, Marcus made quick progress up to seventh place.
After some hard battles he’d slip back one position, before a red flag denied him the opportunity to gain it back. With the race not restarted after just seven laps it thwarted Marcus’ chance to end his strongest F2 weekend yet on an even bigger high.
Marcus is straight back in action this weekend as he prepares for the final weekend of the 2021 Formula 2 season next weekend in Abu Dhabi.