FIA Formula 2 headed straight to the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg - one week after Anthoine took a stunning home victory at Paul Ricard, for Round 6 and Races 11-12 of the 2019 championship.
A summer heat wave in Europe led to incredibly hot track conditions all weekend, which Anthoine maximised fantastically in Qualifying. He took the opportunity to run ‘in the gap’ between qualifying runs when the track was less busy – putting in a lap time of 1:14.309s to go 2nd fastest overall.
Despite targeting a top 6, no one else was able to beat his benchmark time, as he bagged the first front row start for the team this season.
Teammate Tatiana Calderon wasn’t quite able to extract the same performance on the tightly contested grid, as she lined up 20th on the grid for the Feature Race on Saturday afternoon.
Anthoine got a solid start to the Feature Race, holding 2nd through Turn 1 before the big climb up to Turns 2 and 3. He defended the position well at Turn 3 to hold his position in the early stages of the race. Tatiana by contrast made a great start to move herself up 5 positions in the opening laps, gaining valuable track position as she ran on the alternate tyre strategy.
Tyre management was a critical factor in the extremely hot conditions, where Anthoine chose to manage the Super Soft tyre early on – before pitting from 4th position on Lap 7, to run the Soft tyre for the rest of the 40-lap Feature Race.
A good pitstop saw him emerge in a ‘net’ 4th position of those drivers who had pitted, but the challenge was to make the tyres last the duration of the race.
Tatiana kept her tyres in check well as she ran in 5th position for a majority of the race, however the high track temperatures saw everyone on the alternate strategy struggle with extending the life of their tyres – meaning Tatiana had to pit on Lap 27 from what was then 7th position.
Both drivers managed their respective tyre strategy well in the closing stages, with Anthoine holding onto a strong 4th position – just missing out on another podium finish for the team after finishing just 0.3s behind Nyck de Vries at the finish line.
Tatiana likewise finished right on the back of one of her rivals, as she crossed the line in 17th position and just 0.8s away from gaining another position.
Anthoine would start the partially reversed grid Sprint Race from 5th on the grid, with Tatiana from 17th. The Columbian had an issue on the grid before the formation lap, meaning she would start from the pitlane for the 28-lap Sprint Race.
Anthoine made a decent start, but was forced to the outside of Turn 1 leaving him vulnerable up the hill and into Turn 3. The Frenchman however was pinched between two cars, meaning there was contact between himself and Nobuharu Matshushita at Turn 4 – dropping him to 8th position at the end of the opening lap.
Tatiana had managed to latch onto the pack from her pitlane start on Lap 3, passing Guiliano Alesi to start her fightback, just as DRS was then enabled.
Anthoine made full use of this to battle with Jack Aitken ahead on Lap 11 in a bid to move up the order at Turn 3. However their combative battle saw the two drivers twice make contact. Causing damage to both cars, where Anthoine suffered damage to the rear of his car and a skewed front wing – which would hamper his pace dramatically for the remainder of the race.
The damage to his car meant he was suffering with both pace in the high-speed corners of the track as well as with tyre wear, as he bravely tried to hold his track position.
A Safety Car was deployed on Lap 20 following a brake failure for Louis Deletraz at Turn 1. This bunched the field up for the restart with Anthoine running in 10th and Tatiana in 14th position at the time of the incident.
The race restarted on Lap 23, where Anthoine’s car issues really began to compromise his progress with the now bunched up field. He battled with his damaged car for the remainder of the race and brought his car home in a spirited 17th at the finish of the Sprint Race.
With the gap to her competitors now eroded by the safety car Tatiana took full advantage of her strong pace and tyre management skills overtaking 3 cars in the final laps, finishing a solid 13th position at the chequered flag. The team was extremely happy with the progress Tatiana made in Race 2 and believes they can carry the momentum forward.
The next race of the FIA Formula 2 Championships heads to Silverstone on the 12-14 July, where BWT Arden will be aiming for a top result in their home race of the season – ran alongside the British Grand Prix.
Photos Courtesy of Dutch Photo Agency