It was the home race for the BWT Arden team at Silverstone
for Round 7 of the 2018 FIA F2 Championship.
Qualifying saw Günther set the 10th fastest time in the scorching Northampton sunshine, with teammate Nirei Fukuzumi setting the 19th fastest time in the challenging session.
The 29-lap Feature Race starting once again under the Safety Car with a ‘Rolling Start’, as they were in the previous round at the Red Bull Ring. Günther held his position at the start of the race as the race got underway, challenging Luca Ghiotto ahead for 9th down the ‘Wellington Straight’. Fukuzumi maintained position at the race as the driver’s immediately set into balancing pace and performance, against tyre management and strategy.
Günther pitted on Lap 6 for his mandatory pit stop, swapping the ‘Soft’ compound Pirelli tyres he started the race on for the ‘Hard’ compound tyres for the rest of the race. Fukuzumi would follow suit on Lap 8 for his pitstop on the same strategy as his teammate. The Honda Junior driver however suffered from an electrical issue, bringing his race to a halt on the ‘Hanger Straight’ on Lap 15 – bringing out the Virtual Safety Car temporarily.
Günther was now in a battle for ‘Reverse Grid Pole Position’, which was 8th place in the Feature Race – as a train of cars were battling for 5th position in the race. The second Virtual Safety Car was triggered when the Prema Racing car of Sean Gelael stopped at ‘Brooklands’ corner. Soon after, the Carlin of Sergio Sette Camara suffered an engine failure which promoted Günther to 8th position. Günther finished the race in 8th position, claiming pole position for the partially reversed Sprint Race tomorrow – following a time penalty demoting ART Grand Prix’s Jack Aitken out of the points.
The 21-lap Sprint Race on Sunday morning saw Günther make a brilliant start to pull away from nearest rival Nyck de Vries at the start. Cruelly for Fukuzumi, a puncture to the radiator on the lap to the grid, meant he was not able to take the start of the race – leaving only one BWT Arden in contention.
Günther continued to lead from the front, managing the gap to his rivals behind and staying out of threat of the DRS. The BWT Arden driver was again balancing performance against tyre life as he managed the race from the front of the pack.
As his rivals behind began to battle, Günther continued to pump in the consistent laps to pull out a 4.5 second advantage on the chasing pack with four laps to go – despite a brief Virtual Safety Car period triggered by Antonio Fuoco’s car stopping at ‘Luffield.
The last few laps became incredibly tense, as Championship Leader George Russell moved into 2nd position and started to rapidly gain on Günther. Into the final lap, Russell had just got within DRS range on the ‘Hanger Straight’, but Günther held firm – holding on to take his maiden FIA Formula 2 victory, as well as the first of the season for the BWT Arden team after a brilliant Sprint Race.
FIA Formula 2 returns to action in three weeks time at Budapest in Hungary, on the 27-29 July. This will be the last race before the annual Summer Break in the championship. After securing their first win of the season, BWT Arden head into the next rounds determined for more of the same!