Dramatically lunging past Jehan Daruvala at the finish line of the first of three FIA Formula 2 Championship races, was the difference between starting from first and 11th on the reversed grid in Sprint Race 2 for Marcus Armstrong, with the DAMS’ driver saying that the move “changes our weekend.” Starting alongside Armstrong at the Monaco F1 Grand Prix round will be fellow Kiwi Liam Lawson, who finished ninth.
Guanyu Zhou strengthened his early lead of the Drivers’ Championship in Sprint Race 1 at Monte Carlo, surviving a late Safety Car to win at a canter over Felipe Drugovich. The UNI-Virtuosi racer led from lights-to-flag, with the Brazilian claiming P2 after Christian Lundgaard was forced to retire from second with mechanical issues.
Roy Nissany said Monaco is all about “the mental game,” in the lead-up to the race, and the DAMS’ racer played it well, holding off Campos’ Ralph Boschung for a first Formula 2 podium.
It was a rather calm affair around the streets of Monte Carlo, with Jüri Vips coming out on top of a race-long battle with Dan Ticktum for fifth. While Théo Pourchaire continued his hot form in Round 2, making up three places to seventh, ahead of PREMA Racing’s Oscar Piastri.
For Armstrong, an overtake 29 laps in the making finally came off at the very last second in Sprint Race 1, with the Ferrari junior deciding that it was a risk worth taking as they approached the chequered flag on Lap 30 of 30.
Former PREMA teammates in Formula 3, Armstrong revealed after the race that the Carlin driver had already messaged him, insisting the DAMS’ driver “makes it count.”
“You could argue that you can still win the race from P11 in most places, but in Monaco that’s simply impossible,” said Armstrong. “I think that it was a really important move and I needed to do it because it changes our weekend. Yes, there was some risk involved and it could have ended badly, but it didn’t and that’s it.
“I was lining that up for the entire race, exactly 29 laps, and then the opportunity presented itself on the final lap. I think that our pace was quite strong, so it was just a case of getting close enough.
“Obviously, there is always a risk involved, but I know that Jehan is a smart driver, and he’s not going to destroy both of our races. I went for the gap, even though it was very small, and it paid off.”
The overtake on Daruvala was one of very few moves around Monte Carlo, a theme that is typical of the punishing street circuit. Bidding to bring home his first win at this level, Armstrong believes it will be all about retaining focus from the off.
“If we have a good start, then it is all about finding a rhythm,” Armstrong continued. “It will be very difficult because you have to stay extremely focused throughout the entire race, especially with the Pirellis.
“When they start to degrade slightly and overheat, it starts to feel like wrestling an alligator around the streets of Monaco, so I have to stay very focused. Hopefully tomorrow we have some clear air so that I can enjoy it.”
Race 1 Results
1/ Guanyu Zhou
2/ Felipe Drugovich
3/ Roy Nissany
4/ Ralph Boschung
5/ Jüri Vips
6/ Dan Ticktum
7/ Theo Pourchaire
8/ Oscar Piastri
9/ Liam Lawson
10/ Marcus Armstrong
11/ Jehan Daruvala
12/ David Beckmann
13/ Richard Verschoor
14/ Bent Viscaal
15/ Lirim Zendeli
16/ Jack Aitken
17/ Guilherme Samaia
18/ Alessio Deledda