Hitech environment making Armstrong feel ‘very confident’ in best F2 season to date

At a sunny Spielberg, Hitech’s Marcus Armstrong converted his reverse-grid pole position into his second Sprint Race victory in the FIA Formula 2 Championship this season. The New Zealander was comfortably in charge, showing no signs of giving up first place as he led from lights to flag in a dominant display at the Red Bull Ring.

By Tyler Foster

Having taken his second win and third podium of the season, Armstrong now sits on 69 points in fifth place in the standings. In his third season, he has demonstrated his talent and experience at times this year and had his most successful Formula 2 season to date with just under half the season still left to go.

Armstrong: ‘Big potential’ in Hitech package

Speaking to F1 Feeder Series after the Sprint Race, Armstrong offered his thoughts on his season so far and whether he would be able to fight for the top three spots in the championship.

“I think so. Like I’ve said many times, I think our package as a whole has big potential. This Hitech car is very good, and for that, I thank them a lot because I can feel the car a lot better than previously and I just feel very confident in that environment.

“In terms of performance for the rest of the season, I hope we can have a consistent run, and today is a good start. Tomorrow, there will be chaos with a bit of rain in the air, so it will be about making the best of every situation, I think.”

Pourchaire’s brake bias nearly bites

After the talk of track limits from the various qualifying sessions at the Red Bull Ring on Friday, it once again was the focus on Saturday. A number of drivers ended up with time penalties for extending their driving lines through corners and going beyond the white line.

Armstrong wasn’t particularly fazed by such an issue, but Théo Pourchaire was struggling to avoid a penalty during the race. The French driver picked up his final warning on Lap 13 of 28 and had the pressure of the rapid Jack Doohan bearing down upon him in the final few laps in the battle for second.

The cause of Pourchaire’s troubles was a decision to change his brake bias in order to stabilise the rear of his car after he suffered from oversteer early on. However, this almost came back to haunt him: he began to lose time to leader Armstrong and fall into the clutches of Doohan because of locking issues.

“The brake bias change, it was only for the balance of the car,” Pourchaire told F1 Feeder Series. “I had a bit of oversteer, so I didn’t want to finish with no more rear tyres, so I went a bit forwards [on the brake bias], and that was a bit difficult by the end of the race because I was micro-locking a bit the front wheels. At one braking, Turn 3, I just completely locked.”

Doohan stays focused

Doohan was on for a comfortable podium after overtaking Richard Verschoor’s Trident at the start, but he had the opportunity to grab second towards the end. We asked the Australian whether he was aware of Pourchaire’s track limit issues.

“I could visually see that he’d gone over the track limits a few times, but I was just focusing on my own race and trying to stay in the track limits myself. Just trying to treat it like it’s Baku in the final two turns.”

Though Pourchaire lost time to Doohan in the final stages of the race, he was able to hold his position and finish in second. In doing so, he has slightly closed the championship gap to Felipe Drugovich but will start behind the Brazilian for the Feature Race on Sunday.

It will be Pourchaire’s ART Grand Prix teammate Frederik Vesti on pole for Sunday’s Feature Race, with Armstrong’s Hitech teammate Jüri Vips alongside Vesti on the front row. Drugovich starts fifth, with Pourchaire further down in ninth.

Header photo credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd

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