Frederik Vesti took his maiden FIA Formula 2 win in Baku’s Sprint Race, as his and ART Grand Prix’s hard work finally paid off.
The young rookie endured a difficult start to his season and had not scored any points until the third round in Imola. Since then, his form has improved, earning him a podium finish in Barcelona’s Feature Race and his first win in Azerbaijan.
During the post-Sprint Race press conference, the Mercedes Junior driver put that improvement down to hard work:
“We’ve done so much hard to work to get to where we are now. Barcelona was a really good step forward but my start to F2 had been quite rough so I’m really happy to finally win my first race… I’ll push on from here.”
Vesti had a dramatic race start, with a good launch to propel him into the race lead, but went too deep into Turn 1, costing him momentum and places as Jehan Daruvala and Jake Hughes got ahead:
“I really just over-pushed Turn 1 and didn’t expect to slide like that, and I think I was probably in the wrong gear. I was heading towards the wall and had to brake as hard as I could when everyone was getting on the throttle, and I lost two positions.”
The Danish driver then put pressure on Hughes, eventually squeezing past the Van Amersfoort Racing car on the outside of Turn 2. By that point, race leader Daruvala had built a strong gap, but a safety car on Lap 14 brought Vesti back into contention.
As there is always a chance of safety cars around the streets of Baku, Frederik was prepared for the opportunity:
“Initially I was pushing flat out to try to see if I had the pace to catch Jehan. The pace was quite strong, but I realised that I didn’t have enough pace to catch Jehan.
“I knew that most likely there would be a safety car at some point so I decided to save my tyres to wait and see what would happen. As soon as the safety car came I knew that I had a good set of tyres and I had the opportunity to win the race.”
Vesti held his position at the first safety car restart, but better tyre and brake preparation helped him attack at the second restart. When Daruvala locked up into Turn 1, it was the Dane’s chance to take advantage and snatch the race lead.
He will line up in P8 on the grid for Sunday’s Feature Race, knowing that there will be opportunities to move up the order:
“If the pace is good and the confidence is there on the brakes, there are a lot of opportunities to overtake in the race, and hopefully there’ll be some safety cars to give me more opportunity to move forward.”
Vesti will hope that he can continue this form as he continues his recovery this season and aims to impress his bosses at Mercedes.
Image: Dutch Photo Agency