Marcus pushes to another podium in Austria
Back on track at the Red Bull Ring, it proved to be a weekend drenched in rain and champagne for Marcus Armstrong, as he tackled the second round of FIA Formula 2. Earning another podium to add to his championship campaign, he once again showcased his undeniable skill in changing conditions.
Laying down his opening laps during qualifying, Marcus was right in the thick of the timings, eagerly testing his pace. With just a second separating the field, he hooked a lap together, but was only enough to earn a 12th place start on the grid. But with full confidence in his race pace, he was ready to get his elbows out when the lights went out on Saturday afternoon.
Rain, rain and positions gained
The scene couldn’t have been further from a repeat of last weekend, with a deluge of rain posing a unique challenge to that a few days previous. With a few laps circulating behind the safety car, the pack were forced to pull into the pits and wait for the torrential rain to subside. Over an hour later, the track was deemed safe for racing and after a further 4 laps behind the safety car, the pack were unleashed for a thrilling battle.
With a roar of engines and a shower of spray in his visor, adrenaline was running high. Showing he is master of all weathers, Marcus immediately got on the case of dispatching his rivals, hooking into the back of Sato to claim 11th on the road. The pair duelling for the opening laps, he sealed his advantage before heading into the pit stop window. On fresher tyres, the opportunity really came in the latter stages, posting the fastest lap on Lap 22 proving to be his first show of intent. From there the Kiwi battled with Ghiotto and Daruvala, before hunting down Matsushita and Aitken. With a series of committed moves, he sealed 7th place and a front row start for the sprint race.
Another taste of champagne
With the difference a day makes, Marcus was greeted by clear skies as he lined up with a clear view to Turn 1 on Sunday morning, the ever electrified racer was eager to get racing:
“I’m happy to be starting from the front, I’m gonna drive the wheels off it and see what happens”
Spinning wheels off the line, Marcus was slightly edged by his teammate Lundgaard in equal machinery, fighting down to the first corner. Slipping in to 3rd, he hooked into his tail and certainly gave mouthwatering battle as the pair roared side-by-side through the opening few kilometres. But before the race had really begun the battle was paused due to the Virtual Safety Car being called for Shwartzman’s stricken car at Turn 1. Without the cars bunching up, the gap to P2 was just out of reach so he turned his attention to defending the Schumacher behind. Lacking the extra speed boost from DRS, he expertly fought off the German every corner, using the best of natural racing skill.
As the lead changed ahead, Schumacher remained hot on his rear wing, with the benefit of DRS and slipstream, Marcus was powerless to his rival’s increased speed upon the long straight down to Turn 3. Undeterred, he kept himself firmly in the fight, ready to pounce at his next given opportunity. His time came when the German’s fire extinguisher filled his cockpit with foam and forced a retirement. Running a quietly consistent race, Marcus maintained his advantage to Zhou behind and took the flag in 3rd place, earning himself his second podium finish in as many race weekends.
Speaking of his race:
“We definitely had the pace at the beginning, but there was one point where I just completely lost the rear axle. I was more or less surviving for the last 15 laps. I certainly wasn't able to drive the way that I wanted to, so I was massively limited by that. We have more points on the board and that's the priority at the moment. The Championship is long and we're in a good position because I feel that we're only going to improve.”
Scoring a strong haul of 21 points for his title campaign, Marcus moves to Hungary with an appetite for claiming the top step, where he’s sure to build upon his formidable form.