SG Formula rounds off its first half-season in F3 with a podium place! Ten out of twenty races have been completed and the newest F3 team in the Euro Series has just won its second podium place. At Zandvoort, which hosted the Dutch Grand Prix ...
SG Formula rounds off its first half-season in F3 with a podium place!
Ten out of twenty races have been completed and the newest F3 team in the Euro Series has just won its second podium place. At Zandvoort, which hosted the Dutch Grand Prix until 1985, French driver Yann Clairay took second place on the podium in race 2, after picking up the points for coming 4th on the Saturday. Team-mate Henkie Waldschmidt fared less well during the week-end but nevertheless managed to pick up a few points for the Rookie Cup.
In Friday's qualifying session the progress made by the team from La Rochelle was plain to see. Yann Clairay's 7th fastest qualifying time was the best SG Formula had achieved since making its debut in the category last April. The ascension towards the champagne seats continued in race 1 on the Saturday. Making the most of a drive-through penalty inflicted on Spaniard Dani Clos, Yann quickly got past Japanese driver Koudai Tsukakoshi on braking. Then during the evening he learnt that first over the line Nico Hulkenberg's car had been tested and excluded for breaking the minimum weight limit!
Coming 4th in this race was a fine performance in itself. It put Yann in 5th place on grid for race 2, the line-up for which was decided using the top 8 reverse order grid system. The front line cars collided coming into the first corner, allowing Yann to surge into 2nd place, a position he held on until the chequered flag. This podium success comes on top of the one that the same Yann Clairay achieved at Mugello. It moves him into 7th place in the championship standings going into the back half of the season.
Henkie Waldschmidt has put in some good performances during qualifying this season but he met with no success on home territory. SG Formula's rookie driver started his maiden race at Zandvoort in 20th position on the grid, and only managed to improve his position to 16th in race 1. His only consolation was a meagre 3 points counting towards the rookies trophy. After starting in 16th place on Sunday's grid, the young Dutchman managed to overtake Chinaman Cong Fu Cheng and was motoring along in 13th position when Briton Jon Lancaster's aborted attempt to get past him ended up in a collision.
But when team-manager Stephane Guerin totted up the weekend's results it was Yann Clairay's 2nd place which was foremost in his mind. "After two street races, Zandvoort marked a return to a more traditional configuration. We got a highly encouraging result here, one that demonstrates that we are able to go for podium places. We are also approaching our goal of regularly getting amongst the top five fastest in qualifying. I feel we have a bigger margin for improvement than most of the teams. For Henkie, perhaps he made too much of this race on home ground and he wasn't familiar to the circuit. The pressure on him meant he wasn't relaxed enough to go for a top qualifying time, although everyone knows how fast he can be."
After Zandvoort the team has just two short weeks to prepare for the Nurburgring, which hosts the next round of the Formula 3 Euro Series, next July 26-27.