Kiwi Formula 2 racer Marcus Armstrong says his shaky form in the 2020 season resulted from the ART GP team being unable to get on top of the new 18-inch sized rims.
Last year was the inaugural season for the larger 18-inch wheels. It marked the first step in a gradual transition, which will eventually see Formula 1 adopt the new size.
However, the tyres caused quite a stir among the F2 paddock. Several drivers complained of a limited grip window coupled with excessive overheating.
Armstrong, who finished a disappointing 13th in his rookie season of the second-tier championship, believes the varying levels of grip restrained him from maximising his full potential.
“The 18-inch is clearly a complicated tyre to maximise,” Armstrong told Formula Scout.
“It’s extremely important to be inside the right temperature window. More so than previously on the 13-inch, in my opinion.
“From the test I did here at Abu Dhabi [last year], it’s more complicated to be inside the right temperature window. And performance mainly comes from that.
“Often you find sometimes that you have more overall grip, instead of fixing the balance. And in many cases, this year having a good balance means nothing if you don’t have the grip.
“We’ve often had good free practices, and then changed compound for qualifying and it’s struggled a lot. Just finding the right window to perform hasn’t been great for us this season.”
Armstrong started his debut F2 campaign with an impressive flourish, earning two podiums in the opening four races.
Unfortunately, that would be his only success, and it would take a gruelling 15 races before the Kiwi scored another point.
“We were quick out of the box in Austria,” he said. “Things just seemed to click at the very beginning.
“It’s been often a bit frustrating at times because I’ve felt that I’ve done a good job and have done some strong laps in qualifying this season.
“But for whatever reason the lap time wasn’t there. There’s been times where I’ve done in my opinion a mega job in qualifying, and the result has been nowhere. Then there’s been times when I’ve made mistakes on my lap and we’re inside the top five.”
Armstrong added that the ART cars seemed to degrade its tyres more quickly on long runs than those rival teams around him.
Consequently, he would often find himself over-driving the car.
“Long-run pace was not so good, especially on high-degradation tracks.
“I had to push hard to stay within DRS of the car in front, which then is like a snowball effect for the rest of the race as you overheat the tyres and they become worse.
“So, it’s a bit of a bad cycle when you have to push to stay close to the car in front, to have the DRS, and then obviously you lose the tyre.”
The Kiwi has been linked to switch of teams for this year’s F2 championship. He spent last year’s post-season test with DAMS and is expected to join the French outfit over the next few months.