DAMS’ Ayumu Iwasa took his fifth podium of the 2023 campaign and closed the gap in the title fight as Formula 2 tackled the Hungaroring in the penultimate event before the summer break.
Having qualified sixth, the Japanese driver started fifth for the semi-reverse grid Sprint Race and got a fantastic start, moving up to second in the first few corners and holding the position throughout, also claiming the bonus point for the fastest lap of the race.
On Sunday, the team opted for the alternate strategy, running long during the first stint. With the medium tyres not producing the pace expected, the Red Bull Junior pitted early, utilising the extra grip of the soft tyres to gain a pair of positions in the final laps to finish fourth.
Arthur Leclerc had a more difficult weekend, qualifying 17th before the team discovered a chassis issue. After excellent work to change it ahead of the Sprint Race, Leclerc showed strong pace and made progress in both races, although he was unable to break into the points-paying positions.
#11 Ayumu Iwasa
“It was clear in Free Practice that we had a lot of potential in the car, having taken P1, but we weren’t able to switch on the tyres the way we wanted in qualifying. I got a great start in the Sprint Race to move up to second, and I managed the degradation really well. We pushed at the end and although I couldn’t take the win, I still earned an extra point for Fastest Lap. On Sunday we went for the alternate strategy, we were expecting more from the medium tyres but we soon saw the softs were the better choice, so pitted earlier than planned. This was good for us as I had more grip than those around me at the end and managed to improve to P4 and take some more solid points for the championship.”
#12 Artur Leclerc
“We didn’t have the pace in Free Practice and qualifying and then we discovered an issue with the chassis, which explained the lack of speed. I want to thank the whole team for their amazing work to change the chassis and rebuild the car before the Sprint Race, they did a great job and it felt so much better in the races. The pace was good, unfortunately I wasn’t able to get up into the points but we can take confidence into next week at Spa.”
Charles Pic – Team Owner
“Qualifying was frustrating, Ayumu was close to the fastest drivers but just missing a slight bit of pace for pole. Arthur’s car was moving under braking and when we investigated, we found an issue with the chassis. The crew worked really hard to get it changed for the Sprint Race so a big thank you goes out to them. Ayumu had a great start on Saturday to get up to P2 and drove well to stay there throughout. Arthur’s pace was much improved, he was very happy with the speed and the car. Today, we opted to go for the alternate strategy, but quickly realised that the soft tyres weren’t degrading the way we expected so we pitted early to switch onto them. This gave Ayumu an advantage in the final few laps that allowed him to move up to P4. Arthur was really strong once again, it’s tough to overtake here, but we were really happy with his performance and looking forward to Spa next weekend.”