Securing pole with the only sub 1m 51s time at Paul Ricard, Round 2 of the season looked set to be 2021 kick-starter that Frederik Vesti needed to put together a title charge, but it wasn’t to be. The ART Grand Prix driver struggled to make any headway in Races 1 and 2, before losing P1 when the lights went out on Sunday.
Hauger jumped Vesti off the line and the Dane then spent the next 10 laps defending the position from multiple drivers as the track dried while also attempting to bridge the gap between himself and the PREMA in P1.
Unable to catch Hauger and struggling with tyre wear, Vesti first succumbed to eventual winner Jack Doohan on Lap 11, when the Trident fired ahead of him on the main straight. Ending the race in sixth, Vesti put his struggles down to their choice of setup.
“I had a weak start compared to Hauger,” Vesti explained. “It then took me a few laps to warm up the tyres properly, but after that, the pace was actually really good. From Lap 2 to Lap 7, I think I was closing the gap well to Dennis and pulling a bit from behind.
“I was really confident but then quite quickly on Lap 7 my tyres really started to drop off and I realised that we’d chosen the wrong setup for the race. We were probably expecting it to rain all through the race, which would have been perfect if it had happened, but it stopped raining around two laps in and we were just dropping back.”
After ending 2020 as one of the form-drivers in Formula 3, Vesti hasn’t enjoyed the start to the new season he’d envisaged when swapping PREMA for ART, with just a sole podium so far – P3 in Race 2 at Barcelona – and one pole position to show for his efforts.
Remaining upbeat, the Mercedes junior reiterated the importance of perspective, although admitted that both he and the team need to start doing better as they head into Round 3 of 7 at Spielberg in less than two weeks.
“This weekend, we had huge potential,” he said. “We did pole position by almost two-tenths of a second, and then my teammate, Alex Smolyar, won Race 1 with good pace. That means that the car is there. We just need to find a range where it is working better. I am still really happy to have taken pole because that will be important for the rest of the season.
“I had an issue in Race 1 and dropped to P15 and then came back to P10 in Race 2. And on Sunday, we chose the wrong setup. It was a weekend with huge potential, but in the end, we only ended up with around 13 points, which is a shame.
“If it is my fault or an issue with the car that no one can do anything about, then it’s about putting it into perspective and looking forward. If there is something that I can do better, then I need to understand what that is and do it better next time. We need to analyse and talk about that.”