F2 - 2018 Round 5 preview: Le Castellet, France

20.06.18

After almost a month away from the track, the FIA Formula 2 Championship returns for the fifth round of the season at a brand new venue for the championship: the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet, France.

F2 - Round 5 Preview

Warm Up // Lando Norris – Carlin
“I really like Le Castellet, it’s a circuit I’ve really enjoyed driving at and I’ve always gone pretty well there. The layout’s pretty good, although I think that it’s not the easiest track to overtake on, but there’s still possibilities; qualifying’s still important, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t do so well if you can overtake. In the past there’s been pretty high tyre wear, but from what we found out in the test earlier in the season we expect the wear to be pretty low. So, that might make things trickier with less variation in strategy, but it should still be interesting.

Hopefully, having gone well in the past, I can keep up that form in F2. We did pretty well in the early-season test, but other teams have improved as have we, so it’s difficult to know what to expect. If we can start the weekend off strong and have a good qualifying then that’ll be a good place to start, and then we just need to focus on a clean weekend from then on.”

The Stakes       
After almost a month away from the track, the FIA Formula 2 Championship returns for the fifth round of the season at a brand new venue for the championship: the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet, France. With many different configurations available, F2 will race on a 5.842km variation with the famous Mistral straight broken up by a challenging chicane.

The first pre-season test of the year took place at Le Castellet in March, and Lando Norris led the timesheets on the opening two days while George Russell completed the final day on top. Reprising their compound selections from the tests, Pirelli will bring the medium and supersoft tyres to France.

In the previous round at Monaco, Alexander Albon secured his third consecutive pole position having beaten Nyck de Vries of PERTAMINA PREMA Theodore Racing to top spot. In a dramatic Feature Race, the pair tangled while entering the pits, allowing the imperious Artem Markelov to take victory having overcome challenges from drivers running an alternative strategy to the RUSSIAN TIME driver. In an equally action-packed Sprint Race, Antonio Fuoco secured a first ever victory for the Charouz Racing System team, with teammate Louis Delétraz coming second ahead of Lando Norris.

Norris continues to lead the Drivers’ Championship, sitting on 98 points while closest challengers Markelov and Albon both have 71. Carlin holds its advantage in the Teams’ Championship with 144 points, ahead of French outfits ART Grand Prix and DAMS while RUSSIAN TIME move up to fourth overall.

Pirelli Quote – Mario Isola
“There are a number of interesting question marks as we head to Paul Ricard: firstly about the track itself, which is all-new, and secondly about the strategic variations that will be possible thanks to the ‘step’ between tyre nominations in Formula 2. In the past we have seen that this has led teams to different tactical philosophies and unpredictable racing, so hopefully this will be the case again. Warmer weather should in theory increase thermal degradation, while by contrast the new track surface leads to very low levels of wear and degradation. So we’re set for an intriguing weekend, where anything could happen.”​

Noteworthy

  • The race weekend in Le Castellet is the fifth of the 12 rounds which make up the 2018 FIA Formula 2 calendar.
  • The first pre-season test of 2018 was conducted at Le Castellet, a new venue on the F2 calendar.
  • In testing, Norris completed the opening day having taken top spot in both morning and afternoon sessions. He returned to the top on the following morning, with Alexander Albon taking afternoon honours on Days 2 and 3 – with George Russell taking top spot in the final morning.
  • In the previous round at Monaco, Charouz Racing System took their maiden F2 victory courtesy of Antonio Fuoco’s Sprint Race victory.
  • Fuoco’s teammate Louis Delétraz scored his first points of the year in the Feature Race, before helping Charouz to a one-two finish in the Sprint.
  • Both Sean Gelael and Roberto Merhi also secured their first podium finishes of the year in the Feature Race.
  • The BWT Arden team scored their first points in Monaco since the opening round, with both Maximilian Günther and Nirei Fukuzumi both troubling the scorers over the weekend.
  • Having been ruled out of the Monaco races through injury after crashing in qualifying, Sergio Sette Camara will return to action in Le Castellet.