Feature Race
FIA Formula2 2023
Round 13

Starting from 15th, Iwasa makes a leap to finish on the podium in 2nd in a turbulent race with five SC interventions He defends his 3rd place in the championship

it Autodromo Nazionale Monza

The Feature Race of the FIA Formula 2 Round 13 Italy took place on Sunday, 3 September. Ayumu Iwasa, who had qualified 15th, started from P15 in Row 8 of the grid.

Starting from 15th, Iwasa makes a leap to finish on the podium in 2nd in a turbulent race with five SC interventions He defends his 3rd place in the championship

Under dry conditions with an ambient temperature of 23°C and a track temperature of 26°C, the formation lap got underway at 9:55am. After finishing the Sprint Race with a problem with his car the day before, Ayumu Iwasa was ready to start with his car completely repaired. With a good start, he moved up to 14th and finished the opening lap in 13th after one of the leading cars spun out and stopped. The Safety Car (SC) was brought on at the end of the first lap as the stalled car was stranded on the track. The race resumed on Lap 4, with Iwasa placed 13th. As a car overran and stopped at Turn 1, the SC was introduced again, and all the cars that had started on the option specification (super softs) pitted at once to change tyres. Having started on the prime specification (mediums), Iwasa stayed out and moved up to 3rd. Three cars using the same strategy occupied the top positions, but the drivers who took advantage of the SC and changed tyres to significantly reduce time loss were now in a favourable situation. When the race resumed on Lap 12, Iwasa made a bold move to take an advantageous position at Turn 1, and then took the lead at the entrance to the second chicane. At the restart, there was an accident on the straight at the back of the field, and the SC was brought on for a third time before the end of Lap 12. As it was an accident on the straight, when all cars were passing through the pitlane, Iwasa changed to option tyres to make up for the disadvantage. This change cost the Japanese driver some time and pushed him back to 10th. However, he succeeded in recovering from the strategic damage, and the question now was how long he could preserve his option tyres.

 The race resumed on Lap 16. On Lap 18, a car ahead had an off-track excursion at the first corner, and Iwasa moved up to 9th. He then climbed to 8th on Lap 20 when a car ahead of him developed problems. On Lap 21 at the first corner, Iwasa pushed boldly to overtake, which promoted him to 7th. On Lap 23, two of the leading cars dropped out due to an accident and the Japanese driver climbed to 5th. This accident brought on the SC again, and as the two cars ahead made pit stops to change tyres, Iwasa moved up to 3rd.

When the race resumed on Lap 27, he challenged the 2nd-place car from the outside at Turn 1 and took over. Iwasa managed his option tyres well and set his best lap time on Lap 28 to hold off the chasing pack, defending his position. On Lap 29, a car went off the track and stopped, and the SC came on for the 5th time. The 30-lap race came to the chequered flag with the SC leading the way, and with Iwasa finishing 2nd. Having bounced back from a strategic disadvantage, Iwasa made a huge leap forward from a starting position of 15th to finish on the podium in 2nd place.

 Adding 18 points to his tally for his 2nd-place finish in this Feature Race, Iwasa has 152 points now and remains 3rd in the championship. The gap with 2nd place has narrowed to 14 points, while the gap with 4th place has widened to 14 points. The final round will take place at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi from 18 to 20 November.

Ayumu Iwasa
Ayumu Iwasa 11
As I was starting from 15th, I opted for a prime-to-option-strategy. This was a risky decision but had the potential to improve my position. I got off to a good start, but I still couldn't move up the field so much because the cars on option tyres had good grip. When I had to stay out on the track during the second SC, I thought I’d lost the chance to fight today. However I and the engineers discussed things and decided not to give up, and I concentrated on driving. During the third SC I changed tyres to options. I knew that the number of laps remaining was too many for the options but still decided to go for it to recover the loss. It took some time to do the work. It was also difficult to find the right timing to enter the fast lane with some cars lining up, and I lost positions. During the fourth SC, I thought about changing tyres because they were failing a fair bit, but the engineers suggested to stay out, which I agreed to do. Towards the end of the race, the tyre condition worsened as expected. If the fifth SC hadn’t  happened, I might have lost a position or two.
We were lucky in some ways, but I think it was the result of both myself and the team performing to the best of our ability at any given moment. I’m happy that we were able to do that, along with getting 2nd place.
The main challenge for the final round is to regain the speed in qualifying. We’ll have to analyse the data and find a direction from now on, so I’ll have a lot of meetings with the team. In Abu Dhabi, I had a very good race last year. However, I don't think it’ll be the same as last year, so I’ll prepare well. 

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