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UNI-Virtuosi and Guanyu Zhou kick off Formula 2 season in style

The UNI-Virtuosi team began the curtailed 2020 FIA Formula 2 season with a dominant performance in qualifying at the Red Bull Ring, with Guanyu Zhou just under half a second clear at the head of the field.

The FIA F2 season had been due to get underway in Bahrain in March, but the coronavirus pandemic has caused delays to the F1 calendar which F2 supports.

This weekend’s pair of races kick off a 16-race calendar that will visit Austria again, Hungary, England, Spain, Belgium and Italy.

After the team’s preparations went to plan in practice, Zhou kicked off by leading the field after the first flying laps.

With a target on his back, Zhou then made the most of a new set of Pirellis to push his advantage north of four tenths in a dominant performance for his second FIA F2 pole following his record lap at Silverstone last year.

Zhou’s team-mate Callum Ilott began his relationship with the Norfolk-based UNI-Virtuosi team in similar fashion, scoring the third fastest time. Another driver went off track during the session, which delayed proceedings and allowed the team to correct an issue with Ilott’s car.

A third-place start will give Ilott the opportunity to fight for his maiden FIA F2 win in his first weekend with the UNI-Virtuosi team, having scored a pole position and two podiums with a different team in his rookie year in 2019.

Driver quotes

Guan Yu Zhou

“Firstly, it is great to be back, and also great to already have my first pole of the season. It has been a long waiting period, so it is great to reward the team for all of their hard work. I think that it was a good lap by myself, and in the last sector I think I went sideways a few times! I just wanted to be as near to the front as possible for the start, but obviously getting the first pole is great, and I think having Callum {Ilott} P3 as well is great for the UNI-Virtuosi team.”

Callum Ilott

“We made good changes to the car from practice to qualifying and we were definitely on the pace, so I definitely have to thank the team. Unfortunately we had a bit of an issue and had to sort that out during the red flag period. If there was no red flag period we probably wouldn’t have got the lap in! The car was great, Guanyu Zhou did a great job for the team. I’m looking forward to a challenging race tomorrow.”

© Dutch Photo Agency

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