Oliver Rowland secured two more podium finishes at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya to move into second place in the FIA Formula 2 Championship standings, although that first win in the series still eludes the Renault-backed driver.
The DAMS driver finished third in Saturday’s Feature race in Spain, but admitted that he was a little confused to why the Safety Car was deployed shortly after the Virtual Safety car after Sergio Canamasas stopped on track.
Rowland was sure it was only going to be a VSC but the full safety car allowed drivers to pit and get a free pit stop, meaning the Briton had to pass more cars when he made his own pit stop than he was expecting to.
“I was a bit confused because most of the stuff we’ve talked about lately said it would be the VSC brought out, but it is what it is,” said Rowland on fiaformula2.com.
“I think we showed today that we’re very strong in the race, and I’m really happy with the pace and reckon we could maybe fight for another podium tomorrow.
“I did a good start and had to get through some people at the end on the soft tyres, but that was pretty straight forward. Well done to these guys though: they did a great job.”
Rowland secured a second podium of the weekend during Sunday’s Sprint race, but was hoping that eventual race winner Nobuharu Matsushita would start suffering with his tyres before the end, but ultimately it was the Briton who found the going tough with his own tyres.
With team-mate Nicholas Latifi losing the lead to Matsushita with just four laps remaining, Rowland also found a way passed the Canadian, which meant he finished second to move into second place in the championship standings behind Charles Leclerc.
“The pace was good and I attacked when I could, but you’ve got to be careful in Formula 2 at the moment because if you push for two laps in a row and then overtake you take a lot out of the tyres, so you have to kind of surprise them,” said Rowland.
“And I think that’s what I did at the start, and I was hoping that Nobu would drop back a bit during the race and then I did drop back to save my tyres a bit. But that probably actually became a bit worse I think, because as I went slower I lost a bit of temperature, and when I went a bit faster I was fine.
“I pushed up to the back of him, but when you’re right behind you lose a bit of downforce, and he was really fast today. And then at the end with Nicholas, I’m not sure what happened but I think today was his race, and I did what I could to score good points for the championship, so I’m happy.”
Rowland admits that qualifying has been his weak point so far in 2017, and should he get that part of his weekend up to the standard required to be at or towards the front, then race wins will come.
“I need to improve my qualifying, and me and the team need to improve our performances because the first two rounds have been a bit strange in qualifying,” said Rowland. “Hopefully it can come back a bit more to normal and make some improvements.
“If we start on the first two rows I’m sure we can be on the podium every weekend because we’ve been starting from 6th, 8th, 10th and finishing on the podium, so if I start at the front I’ll win races, and that’s the target to improve.
“It’s Monaco next, a technical track and I like it, I think the driver makes a big difference there so I’m looking forward to it.”