A slow start in practice and qualifying for Rowland allowed Charles Leclerc to sneak pole position at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona. But restoration in sunlit conditions on the last lap cemented the 24-year-old a respectable 6th place with a qualifying time of 1:29.744.
“I need to improve my qualifying, me and the team need to improve our performances because the first two rounds have been a bit strange in qualifying. 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, and I think the driver makes a big difference there so I’m looking forward to it.”
Feature & Sprint Race:
In the afternoon’s feature race under warm conditions, Rowland made Charles Leclerc work tirelessly to capture third spot at Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona. The race came alive for Rowland on lap 13 as the Renault development driver remitted Alexander Albon for the lead. It wasn’t until pitting on lap 29 that Rowland then handed top spot back to Ferrari F1 junior driver, Leclerc. Rowland wasn’t to be denied though, cutting his way back through the pack after his pit stop for another podium finish.
“Today was a good result in the end starting from 6th. I suppose I am a little disappointed that I didn’t win, but I think we did the maximum with the car given the situation with the safety car and I’m happy with the team and how everything is going.”
In the sprint event, Rowland again came alive capturing his second podium finish of the weekend in second spot behind Honda-backed Nobuharu Matsushita. Despite drama at the back of the field where the safety car was deployed, Matsushita captured the lead and went on to claim his first victory of the 2017 F2 season, 3.3 seconds clear of Rowland in second. 24-year-old Rowland kept pace well, edging ahead of team-mate Nicholas Latif into the hairpin at the end of the back straight to earn a valuable second spot. The two podium finishes for Rowland have now left the DAMS driver in 2nd position in the Drivers’ Championship.
Heading to Monaco, Leclerc sits on 73 points, leading Rowland in the driver standings by 26 pts.
“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. Today was Nobu’s race, and I did what I could to score good points for the championship, so I’m happy.”