Out of the five Red Bull Junior drivers within Formula 2 this season, Ayumu Iwasa may have the smallest resumé but he proved his raw talent with his maiden F2 victory in the Feature Race at Paul Ricard on Sunday. F1 Feeder Series spoke to Iwasa after the race about his achievement.
By Tyler Foster
In an eventful race, it was the inform American Logan Sargeant who started from pole for the second time this year. A surprise lap from DAMS’ Ayumu Iwasa placed him second on the grid, with Jack Doohan in fourth. Off the line, it was Doohan who made a speedy getaway, stealing the lead into Turn 1 while Sargeant dropped back with a poor start. Meanwhile, Iwasa was close on the tail of Doohan and looked to overtake for the lead on the first lap.
Coming into the long sweeping Turn 6 at Paul Ricard, Iwasa saw his chance to seize the lead from Doohan as he exited onto the long back straight that was the main overtaking place. The Japanese driver talked us through the subsequent move for P1.
I had the mega-traction!Ayumu Iwasa
“First lap I was focusing on the start, I didn’t think it was a perfect start but it was average. Yesterday, I had such good exit speed from Turn 6 so that’s why I could catch [Doohan] on the back straight and then I could overtake quite easy because I had the mega-traction!”
Even without DRS, the move was a comfortable one for Iwasa. This great start was impressive and he finally seemed to have the opportunity to grab his first victory in F2 after coming so close a couple of times before.
“In Silverstone, I was almost winning the race”, said Iwasa, “but it was a Sprint Race and this is a Feature Race so this is really big points. I was having good speed this season so far but I couldn’t win a race and also, I was missing that result in the Feature Race. It was a bit frustrating, but finally I won the race so really happy.”
Coming into the Feature Race, Iwasa had made it clear to us that after his excellent qualifying lap on Friday he was concerned that DAMS may not have the race pace due to tyre management in order to contend for a podium or the win. However, come Sunday and this seemed to never be an issue for Iwasa.
“Even yesterday in the Sprint Race, I was having good speed so I could overtake some cars. Especially at the end. I had much better potential on the tyre. From the beginning, I was managing a little bit. I think it was really helpful. I could keep that management for today and it was working well again.”
Iwasa didn’t have it all his own way however, having to deal with an early Safety Car restart before driving off into the distance. At the flag, Iwasa was 8.6 seconds clear of second place driver Théo Pourchaire. This margin of victory is something rarely seen in Formula 2 but it only highlights the level of performance from Iwasa and that this win was one of pure skill and composure.
This victory has not only taken a lot of self-imposed pressure off of the shoulders of Iwasa, but it has taken him above fellow Red Bull Juniors: Dennis Hauger and Jüri Vips in the championship. The 20-year-old from Osaka is now ninth in the standings and just 7 points off of another Red Bull Junior, Liam Lawson, in fifth. If this kick-starts a strong end to the season for Iwasa, he could be looking at a top-five finish.
Header photo credit: Red Bull Content Pool
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