F2 - Matsushita "It’s an amazing feeling"

14.05.17

FIA Formula 2 - 2017 Race of Barcelona - Sprint race press conference

F2, Formula 2, Barcelona, FIA, Motorsport

FIA Formula 2: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference for this morning’s FIA Formula 2 sprint race here in Barcelona: joining us are race winner Nobuharu Matsushita from ART Grand Prix, in second we have Oliver Rowland from DAMS, and in third we have his teammate Nicholas Latifi. Nobu, congratulations on the win: can you describe the emotions of this achievement?

Nobuharu Matsushita: It’s an amazing feeling, and because my last win was last year in Monaco so it was quite nice to come back to the podium and to win. I’m really happy.

FIA Formula 2: You made a great start and drove a great race, and then I guess you were in the right place to take advantage of Nicholas’ misfortune: what were you thinking when that happened?

Nobuharu: My pace and Nicholas’ was quite similar, so it would not be so easy to overtake I think, but that was quite lucky and I was very happy to be there and to take this win.

FIA Formula 2: How hard was the tyre management aspect today?

Nobuharu: Yesterday was really difficult for me to manage the tyres, and we analysed a lot last night and changed a lot on the car for my driving style, and it was a lot better today.

FIA Formula 2: Congratulations. Oliver, another exciting race for you, with a lot of overtaking on the way from 6th to 2nd: how was it for you?

Oliver Rowland: Yes, the pace was good and I attacked when I could, but you’ve got to be careful in Formula 2 at the moment because if you push for two laps in a row and then overtake you take a lot out of the tyres, so you have to kind of surprise them. And I think that’s what I did at the start, and I was hoping that Nobu would drop back a bit during the race and then I did drop back to save my tyres a bit. But that probably actually became a bit worse I think, because as I went slower I lost a bit of temperature ,and when I went a bit faster I was fine. I pushed up to the back of him, but when you’re right behind you lose a bit of downforce, and he was really fast today. And then at the end with Nicholas, I’m not sure what happened but I think today was his race, and I did what I could to score good points for the championship, so I’m happy.

FIA Formula 2: You mention the championship and you’re up to 2nd place: do you feel like a contender yet?

Oliver: Yeah, I think so. I need to improve my qualifying, and me and the team need to improve our performances because the first two rounds have been a bit strange in qualifying, but hopefully it can come back a bit more to normal and make some improvements: if we start on the first two rows I’m sure we can be on the podium every weekend because we’ve been starting from 6th, 8th, 10th and finishing on the podium, so if I start at the front I’ll win races, and that’s the target to improve. It’s Monaco next, a technical track and I like it, I think the driver makes a big difference there so I’m looking forward to it.

FIA Formula 2: Congratulations. Nicholas, I’m sure you’re going to be a bit disappointed today but we’ll start with the positives, which is the start: how pleased were you with that?

Nicholas Latifi: Yeah, for the second half of last year and all of this year I’ve been moving forward off the line so I’m quite confident in my start, and I was quite confident that I was going to move into the lead off the line actually, so I wasn’t so surprised when that happened [laughs] I was then just managing the gap, pulled clear of the DRS as soon as I could, and then managed the gap to Malja until Nobu overtook him and he was a bit quicker, so I upped the pace and had the tyres to do it, and I was just managing the situation. A lap before I went off something quite big flew off and hit me in the helmet, I actually thought it was a bit of the front wing but everything felt okay, and it turned out to be the right mirror. I only noticed it just before I was braking for turn 5, and it just distracted me for a tenth of a second or something, delayed my reaction, and it’s quite a tricky corner to get right, especially in the races, and I missed my braking point. I won’t let it happen again, but for sure I’m really disappointed, especially for the team, because it was my race to win. But on the positive we always pull together as a team, we’re always quick in the races, and it’s definitely a step forward since last year although we’ve probably taken a step back in qualifying, and it’s something we need to work on. When you get out in front it’s very easy to manage the race, and that has to be the focus going forward.

FIA Formula 2: A moment like this is unusual, and I wonder what you take away from it, what goes through your head at a moment like this?

Nicholas: I’m just very disappointed: I know it was my race to win. There’s a lot of frustration but I can’t do anything about it, it’s done and I can’t take it back, but there are also positives I can take away from it: it was the first reverse grid I got into since the start of last year, it was the first race I could get out in front and lead, and I was managing it fine. It was my race but I got distracted, that’s all: when you’re cruising out the front there’s a lot to think about and I just made a mistake, as simple as that.