Three early F2 championship contenders speak: ‘We’re all here to do one thing’

Théo Pourchaire was victorious in the first Feature Race of the Formula 2 season, in a chaotic event in Bahrain. He was joined on the podium by Red Bull Juniors, Liam Lawson and Jüri Vips. However, it certainly wasn’t a formality for any of the drivers that ended up on the podium.

By Tyler Foster

The Feature Race

ART GP driver Pourchaire started second, Vips third and Lawson in sixth. It was the Estonian that took the lead of the race into turn one but suffered from a slow pit-stop and fell back down the order. Subsequently, it was Pourchaire who then took the lead, with Lawson always being behind the Frenchman. Vips then managed to carve his way back up to third, showing race-winning pace in the process.

With the first round completed and twelve more to go, these three drivers occupy the top three in the Drivers’ Standings and have started their season’s strongly. All three came into 2022 as title favourites due to their race-winning performances at this level last year.

After the race, the top three spoke to F1 Feeder Series and selected media about how they felt their first weekend of the season had gone, and whether they were confident they could contend for the title this year.

Jüri Vips

The Estonian driver remains with Hitech GP this year after winning twice in Baku with them last year and finishing sixth in the standings. He said that he was “driving angry” after his slow pit-stop and despite being disappointed at not winning, has been strong all weekend.

“Hard to say”, Vips said. “If you look at this weekend, we could have been comfortably leading the championship. Yesterday, we had a clutch issue in the sprint race which I don’t know how many positions in the end it cost us, but probably a couple of points we lost there and we lost an easy victory today. So, if we just iron out these mistakes, which we really need to do if we want to fight for anything, then I think we have a very good shot. Car was very good this weekend.”

If you look at this weekend, we could have been comfortably leading the championship

Jüri Vips

Théo Pourchaire

The 18-year-old Frenchman is expected by many to be the next driver F2 driver to graduate to F1, due to his talent at such a young age and his connection to the Sauber Junior Team. Despite experiencing a DNF due to an engine failure in the Sprint Race on Saturday, he has certainly started the way he would have wanted. He is the highest returning driver from last year and now leads the Drivers’ Championship after Round 1.

“My goal is to be champion”, Pourchaire said. “I believe in myself, I believe in my team. I’m not 100% sure that I will win the championship but I am 100% sure that I will give everything to win it. We will see but the start of the season is great and I hope it will be like that all year.”

I’m not 100% sure that I will win the championship but I am 100% sure that I will give everything to win it

Theo Pourchaire

Liam Lawson

The Kiwi had an exceptional 2021 but will be fully focused on mounting a title charge this year with his new team Carlin. Previously teammates with Vips at Hitech, he seems comfortable since his move and has been consistently quick, finishing on the podium in both races of the opening round. 

“We are all here to do one thing”, Lawson said. “That’s clearly that goal this year. As I spoke about before, having done last year, I’ve obviously learnt a lot from doing that and all the little mistakes and things that we did last year. The aim is to fix up on them this year.”

“I’m confident with how testing went. We had a really good test: pre-season and post-season last year. Really enjoying myself in the new team and excited to see what we can do. This weekend was good, we grabbed good points and the goal is to obviously only improve from here, so if we can do that yeah I think we can be fighting for the championship.”

We grabbed good points and the goal is to obviously only improve from here

Liam Lawson

Three-way battle?

These three exceptional talents may have already shown a glimpse of what this year’s F2 title battle may hold for spectators. It will be only a matter of days until we hopefully see these three battling it out once again at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Saudi Arabia for Round 2 of the FIA Formula 2 Championship. It is up to the other drivers to step it up, as these three seem to be confident in themselves for this year.

Header photo credit: Red Bull Content Pool

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