DAMS got their 2023 FIA Formula 2 season underway with a double-points finish in the Feature Race in Bahrain, with both Arthur Leclerc and Ayumu Iwasa putting in solid performances throughout the weekend.
Japanese driver Iwasa, beginning his second F2 season with the team, qualified seventh on Friday, with series debutant Leclerc close behind in eighth.
In Saturday’s Sprint Race, both drivers got strong starts, going wheel to wheel on the opening lap. Iwasa took fourth at the chequered flag, while Leclerc recovered well to 12th after receiving a penalty for a starting procedure infringement.
Both drivers were involved in a crazy battle for the top-10 in the Feature Race, with Leclerc taking sixth and Iwasa eighth, securing a double-points finish for the team.
“The Sprint Race was quite tough, I struggled with the tyres as I was fighting quite a lot but I managed to keep my position, which was a positive. In the Feature Race we also had to battle with degradation, so it’s a bit frustrating to only finish P8, as I think we had the potential to be much higher. The signs are good, we’ll continue the hard work as a team ahead of Round 2.”
“Overall I’m happy with my debut in F2. In qualifying I had some traffic, which cost me some time on my second run, but we still did enough to be P8, giving us a good starting position for both races. We were unlucky with the penalty in the Sprint Race, but these things happen so we have to move on. The pace after serving the penalty was really positive and in the Feature Race we were strong again, and able to make up some positions in the final few laps and score strong points in P6. We’ll look to continue working hard and improve on our performance in Jeddah.”
“Although the final results are not what we hoped for, we’re happy to score points with both cars. We struggled to find grip and had some traffic in qualifying, but Ayumu and Arthur both ended up in the top-10, which was important for the rest of the weekend. In the Sprint Race, we knew tyre degradation was going to be key because of the hot temperatures and the abrasive track surface. We had a good start, but unfortunately the team made a mistake on Arthur’s side, leaving the grid slightly too late, which meant he received a big time penalty. Despite this, he recovered really well and showed great pace in the rest of the race. Ayumu fought a lot at the beginning, causing damage to his tyres, so he did well to take P4. During the Feature Race, our drivers stayed out of trouble on the first lap and left us in a promising position. We chose to pit early to get out of traffic. Unfortunately everybody had the same idea, so we were stuck battling the entire race, which wasn’t good for the tyres. Our new mechanics did a great job in the pit lane, with two good stops, and the drivers fought hard, both taking points. It’s a bit frustrating as we know we have the potential to do better, but we saw plenty of positives this weekend to build on.”