Pourchaire will ‘keep the secrets for me’ to handle crushing Monaco pressure

The historic Monaco circuit is famed for both its glamour and incredible challenge. With barriers just inches away from ending a driver’s weekend, the young F2 competitors will have to utilise all their racing knowledge and raw talent to perform at the top level and make an impression on the F1 teams watching on.

by Tyler Foster

After a busy Friday morning in the principality of Monaco, it was Carlin’s Liam Lawson who was quickest in qualifying. However, the Carlin driver received a post-session penalty after a controversial incident in which Felipe Drugovich’s stricken car brought out yellow flags during the last runs of the session. Consequently, it will be championship leader Drugovich on Pole for the Feature Race despite his crash.

After the session, F1 Feeder Series and selected media spoke to the provisional top three and asked both Lawson and ART’s Théo Pourchaire about Sunday’s race.

Consistent pace and controversy

As is Monaco’s hectic schedule, the Formula 2 Practice session was on Thursday. Championship leader Felipe Drugovich was quickest, while Lawson was fifth-quickest. For Saturday’s qualifying, the session was split into two groups in order to relieve some of the traffic issues experienced around the tight Monaco layout.

Within the first group, it was Drugovich who set the quickest time with a few minutes left to go. Despite both Lawson and DAMS’ Ayumu Iwasa going quicker, they saw their laps removed as a result of ignoring yellow flags ironically caused by Drugovich’s stricken car in the final sector. Unfortunately, both drivers also received grid penalties for the Sprint Race on Saturday. 

Ultimately, Lawson will now start fifth for the Feature Race and eleventh for the Sprint Race, while Iwasa will start thirteenth for the Feature Race and twentieth for the Sprint Race. Subsequently, the top three for the Feature Race is now: Drugovich, Pourchaire and Doohan.

Lawson stays positive

Speaking to Lawson after qualifying but before his penalties were announced, we asked him about his overall pace in the Carlin so far this season.

“From my side, the pace this year has been really, really good all year. In pre-season you have all the opportunities to lay out the laps. Every team does their own thing with set-up and run plans. I think we showed that we had good speed, but I think that we just had very small issues that have stopped us from showing our potential in a lot of the sessions and the race weekends this year. That’s been quite frustrating because it’s definitely put us out for a couple of rounds and we’ve lost a lot of points.”

“Obviously, Monaco is a very unique track so it’s nice to show the pace again this weekend but we need to keep this going. I think from inside looking out, if we do everything right the pace is there and we should be able to put ourselves in a good position most weekends.”

Pressure on Pourchaire

Pourchaire was the only driver within the top three to remain there after the post-session penalties were applied. He knows just what the pressure of being on the front-row in Monaco brings, after being on Pole last year. We asked him what tricks he will be using to apply pressure to the Polesitter.

“I don’t know what to say about that. To be honest everyone will have a bit of pressure. I will just do my race and focus on myself. I will keep the secrets for me. It’s good to start on the front row in Monaco, it’s the best place possible. We will see. It’s like any other track in the end. I just need to take a good start; an average start is even fine and you keep your place.”

Race prospects

For the Sprint Race on Saturday afternoon it will be Jake Hughes, who suffered a big crash in qualifying, who starts on Pole. The Prema duo of Hauger and Daruvala will start P2 and P3 respectively. 

Hughes was effectively on Pole in Barcelona after Calan Williams stalled his car on the formation lap but failed to take advantage, and ended up not scoring points. This will give the Brit the opportunity to gain at least a maiden podium if not a victory in F2. However, Hauger and Daruvala will be just as hungry to take Prema’s first win of the season.

For Sunday, Drugovich starts from the front for the second time this year, with fellow qualifying specialist Jack Doohan in third. It seems that the Brazilian MP Motorsport driver is in the form of his life at the moment, but if there’s anyone that can beat him around the streets of Monaco it’s last year’s Feature Race winner Théo Pourchaire.

Header Photo Credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd

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