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Shwartzman: F2 favourite tag not adding pressure

Robert Shwartzman says he feels no added pressure from being labelled as the favourite for this year’s FIA Formula 2 Championship as he returns with the title-winning Prema Racing squad.

Robert Shwartzman, Prema Racing leads Felipe Drugovich, MP Motorsport

The Ferrari Driver Academy member is the highest placed driver returning to F2 this year and is tipped to be among the front runners for the title remaining within the familiar environment of the Prema team with which he claimed the 2019 GP3 title.

In his rookie F2 season, Shwartzman scored twice as many wins (four) as 2020 champion and Prema team-mate Mick Schumacher, and led the standings after the first eight races before eventually finishing fourth overall.

However, despite the expectation on his shoulders, the 21-year-old Russian says he feels no extra pressure prior to this weekend’s Bahrain season opener.

“This year we start from zero again so it is my second year and I have some experience from last year but it doesn’t really give me any pressure,” said Shwartzman.

“It is going to be a difficult year for sure. It doesn’t really matter where I finished last year, it is just important where we finish this year.

“I don’t really think about it to be honest. It is just a new season everything is going to be new and I just want to enjoy it.”

While he impressed many last year with his results, Shwartzman admits he wasn’t satisfied with his campaign and is hoping for a more complete performance in 2021.

“It wasn’t a bad year or a bad season, I think it was pretty positive for a rookie,” he added.

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Robert Shwartzman, Prema Racing

Robert Shwartzman, Prema Racing

Photo by: Prema Powerteam

“I think it was not too bad, but I’m not really satisfied with how it went. I have a feeling that we could have done a much better job and at least fight for the title until the end.

“But something just went wrong and we lost quite a few races unfortunately and a lot of points.

"That is in the past, and I hope this year I can put everything together and deliver that final result by taking the championship.”

Reflecting on last year, Shwartzman revealed the loss of his father Mikhail to COVID-19 was a big influence on his season.

“I don’t know if it has made me a tougher person it is not for me to judge,” he said.

“It brought me a lot of pain and it took a lot of my positivity out of me.

“At this moment some times I suffer and I admit it and I’m not hiding it, it is tough, it is hard.

“Also this thing influenced a lot last year because in the very difficult moments of your career if you are missing someone or that one piece of the puzzle in the whole picture, the picture starts to fall apart.”

The 2021 F2 season is set to commence on Friday, beginning with a 45 minute practice session before the debut of a new qualifying format that will result in the top 10 in the session reversed for Saturday’s first race.

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