IMPERATORI BAGS TWO MORE PODIUMS IN FUJI The young Swiss driver has taken two more podiums in his Japanese F3 campaign at Fuji in a week-end disturbed by difficult weather conditions. The competitors of the Japan F3 Championship were gathered...
IMPERATORI BAGS TWO MORE PODIUMS IN FUJI
The young Swiss driver has taken two more podiums in his Japanese F3 campaign at Fuji in a week-end disturbed by difficult weather conditions.
The competitors of the Japan F3 Championship were gathered in Fuji last week-end for the penultimate round of the Championship. As always, they were competing jointly in this week end with the Formula Nippon.
Friday featured 2 practice sessions of 40 minutes each, during which Alexandre worked with his engineer to find a good setup: "I am rather satisfied with the car on old tyres but we still have to solve issues with the new rubber. Of course there is room for improvement, especially in the last and twisty third sector."
On saturday, the morning qualifying decided the grid position for the races (held on saturday afternoon and sunday). The strategy was to go out on a first set of tyres to bring the car up to speed and then use the second set of tyres to really push to the limit. "We realized in practice that quick lap times would be done toward the end so we made our first stint very short to prioritize the faster second attack". Unfortunately, the weather which had been dry all morning decided to break a shower at this moment and effectively ruined the strategy, leaving Alexandre in 3rd and 4th for the start of race 1 and 2 respectively.
The rain fell hard before the first race and the Formula Nippon drivers had their qualifying on wet tyres. But with the rain having stopped it started to dry up quickly and all F3 drivers were on slicks for the start of their race.
Alex said: "The start was especially difficult because I was on the right side were it was still completely wet, while the left side, on the racing line had already begun to dry up".
When the lights went off, Alex had a good start, but as expected lost ground on the drivers on the left side and completed the first lap in fifth place. The PTRS driver immediately tried to regain places but it was made difficult by the track conditions: "It was impossible to brake outside of the racing line because it was wet and offered zero grip". Nevertheless, Alexandre found a way past Yasuoka a few laps into the race. He then quickly caught up with Ali and Matsushita who were battling and a battle for second started. It was interfered by slow Championship-class cars and Alexandre crossed the chequered flag in third.
In sunday's 21-laps race, Imperatori was fourth on the grid but took one of his now famous starts and took the lead into the first corner. It soon appeared that he was struggling with the behavior of his car in the last but crucial sector: "The main straight is so long here in Fuji, that if the car following you manages to get close after the last corner, the slipstream will be too massive to defend against. I managed to defend the position for some laps but eventually the speed was not there to hold it to the finish" Alexandre rued afterwards.
While he couldn't have enough speed to keep first place, he had enough for second which earned him his second podium of the week end.
Alexandre: "We definitely did not put the finger on the proper solution for the car and it has cost us victory today. We must look into the data and see what went wrong. The next, and last circuit will be very different and similar to those that suited me this season so I hope for a strong week-end"
The season finale will be held at Sugo on 20/21 of September