Two more top sixes for SG Formula! This weekend the Formula 3 Euro Series caravan descended on the short Nurburgring circuit nestling at the foot of the Eifel hills. After a difficult start to the meeting, the youthful SG Formula team fought ...
Two more top sixes for SG Formula!
This weekend the Formula 3 Euro Series caravan descended on the short Nurburgring circuit nestling at the foot of the Eifel hills. After a difficult start to the meeting, the youthful SG Formula team fought back to notch up two more significant results. In Sunday's race Yann Clairay matched the 6th place achieved the day before by new team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
The rookie who debuted for SG Formula's F3 division at Nurburgring is by no means an unknown quantity for the team from La Rochelle: Daniel Ricciardo races for the team's Formula Renault 2.0 division; in fact he currently leads both championships in which he is racing - the Eurocup and the West European Cup! The Australian driver races under the Red Bull Junior Team banner, and they decided to give him a taste of Formula 3 this summer in the Euro Series.
On Thursday, Daniel had an accelerator cable problem which caused him to spin off the track. So he only had minimal time at the wheel of the Dallara-Mercedes in which to familiarise himself with the car. Despite this handicap, he was 8th fastest during qualifying, which is a major achievement when you consider the quality of the 30-car field. Daniel went on to prove how comfortable he was by taking a brilliant 6th place in Race 1 on Saturday. This meant that he was in the running for a podium place in Sunday's race, given the reverse grid format that handed him a start on the inside of the second row. Unfortunately, the rookie from down under stalled on the line and could do no better that 15th place at the finish, despite some amazing sector times in the race.
Henkie Waldschmidt, the team's other rookie, also acquitted himself well during qualifying. However, after clocking the 13th fastest qualifying time, he just couldn't get going on the Saturday and sunk into the pack. He managed to emerge in 15th place, which rescued two Rookie Cup points for him. It was much the same story on the Sunday, when the Dutch driver stalled as the lights went out at the off. The best he could hope for after that was a modest 17th place.
A fortnight after winning a podium place at Zandvoort, Yann Clairay was the worst placed of SG Formula's drivers on the starting grid for Race 1, way back on the inside of row 10. On the other hand he drove really well in this race, and picked up the last remaining point in Race 2. In doing so Yann didn't need the boost afforded by the reverse grid; as stipulated in the rulebook, his 14th place in Race 1 earned him the right to a modest 14th place on the grid for Race 2. But building on some nifty footwork through the first bend, he was already up in 8th place by the end of the first lap! Then he took advantage of a mistake by Japanese driver Oshima before going on to surprise Coletti and get past the driver from Monaco. Finishing the race 6th gave him a point to add to his tally, which takes him to 7th in the championship standings.
"We were in all kinds of trouble during open practice but we managed to sort it all out, which just goes to show that the team is capable of reacting positively when needed and to move forward where others might have gone to ground," said Stephane Guerin proudly. "We have a car which has bags of performance. We still need to progress if we are to reach the highest level, but we are not that far off now. We might have had a podium place had it not been for Daniel's mistake at the start of Race 2. But you can't be annoyed with him The same thing happened this weekend to more experienced drivers who have already won races, people like Jakes and Van der Zande. Whereas for Daniel it was his very first taste of F3. He was really flying during qualifying, and put in an excellent performance in Saturday's race. He will have a full day's practice before the Masters, so we will be paying special attention to his start technique. Henkie did reasonably well during qualifying, better than in Zandvoort, but messed up at the start of both races. Such mistakes never go unpunished at this level of competition, of course. He needs to get a good race under his belt, a top eight finish that will see him racing against the best drivers and thus raise his level. As for Yann, he lived up to his reputation with a blistering start and an aggressive first lap full of opportunism. These are key qualities in single-seater racing. "
Rendez-vous next August 9-10 for the 'Zandvoort Masters of Formula 3 @ Zolder'.