Vesti leaps into action at Melbourne
Albert Park, Melbourne. Untested and unexplored by the F2 field, who for the first time ever this past weekend literally had to get their wheels down on a track that is known for offering drama. This time was no exception. Neither in F1 nor F2. "Drive to Survive", which has taken the world by storm in entertainment value and insight into a closed F1 world and the F2 version of this - "Chasing the Dream" - an Australian episode with a reality by far superseding what any professional Netflix scriptwriter could have dreamed up! The Feature Race in particular became a tough, brutal and breathtaking fight on the track - a modern day gladiator battle. Raw, fierce and merciless combatants with no one willing to give up on their dream and desire to live yet another day!
Full of anticipation Vesti was ready to get into the car on Friday and was soon in both training and qualifying getting an idea of what awaited him during the 3 days ahead - bad weather, spins, exits and red flags.
Qualifying was chaos. A wet and rainy track made the conditions extremely challenging. When I was to set the time on the second set of new tires we chose to stay in the pit for as long as possible to benefit from a less wet track. Unfortunately, I didn't get the opportunity. Due to another exit, the red flag came 3 minutes early and the session was flagged off. That ended qualifying for me. P13 for Saturday's sprint race is not a dream position on a starting grid!"
In the sprint race too, drivers struggled for grip on a wet track and several went off already on their way coming from the pitlane and onto the track. Even in dry weather, Albert Park is known to be a very smooth circuit due to the nature of the asphalt. Vesti himself got off to a flying start and overtook 4 cars on the first two laps and continued the good pace. In the end, however, he lost a position to his teammate, Oliver Bearman.
A calculated risk. I took a chance on the Red Bull junior, Isack Hadjar, went too wide and opened up for my teammate to get past me."
Sunday's Feature Race with the most points at stake was an interaction between man, machine, team and a well thought out and executed strategy. Bad luck and good luck often go hand in hand and are also part of the package. With his driving Vesti showed determination and commitment - the fastest man of the day - great overtaking at turn 13, where few even try. Vesti raced from P13 to finish as P4.
Usually you believe in things. But you are also realistic before a Feature Race. Starting P13 on the grid in a dry race doesn't usually offer the greatest opportunities. We chose the medium tire from the start, which we knew lasted longer and with slower degradation, in the hope of a safety car late in the race. The top qualifiers had all chosen a soft tyre, which doesn't last long but is fast."
A safety car was already deployed on the 8th lap. That was NOT part of the plan! My tires should last a long time. Now the others pitted and thus got a "free" pit stop, which came at a high price for me, who stayed on the track. Yes, I was at the front out there, but a pure visual deception. My competitors had gained a lot of time by pitting under the safety car. Their fresh tires would challenge mine strongly later in the race. I drove "flat-out" to try to gain some time on them. But then it happened! Another safety car late into the race saved me. I took advantage of the slowing down of the field - this time a “free” pit stop for me - and the new soft tires really sent me flying.
I guess finishing P4 is pretty good starting P13. This just wasn't in the cards. Sometimes something good emerges out of a difficult and unfortunate situation and despite of everything seemingly being against you. My poor qualifying gave me the opportunity to show that I can turn something bad into something good. I know that there are some out there who will tick that off on their checklist in their assessment of me" smiles Vesti."
There was quite a bit of talk about Vesti among the international commentators today. But Vesti himself wants to bring attention to his team.
Prema yet again provided him with a strong, reliable and fast car. But the team also gives full attention to the human side of racing.
We love hanging out together. Last Sunday I shared a fantastic trip down the coast with the team. We don't just constantly work in the team's workshop and on the track. We also recharge our batteries together outside our world of motorsport. Always on the team's initiative. If you can do that, and if you enjoy each other's company, then we become even stronger together also when things get tough."
A strong collaboration between team and driver now has Vesti at 42 points on his account as P3 in the Championship. The series is currently led by Ayumo Iwasa, DAMS, who started on pole and finished as today's winner of the Feature Race.
Next stop Baku 28-30 April. Vesti won the Sprint Race last year in Baku.