BAMBER WINS P1 and P2 DURING THE CHINESE GP WITH FBMW-ASIA Earl Bamber (New Zealand: Team Meritus) came to Shanghai in winning form, eager to impress his future F1 team bosses at the Chinese Grand Prix. He took his first win during Round...
BAMBER WINS P1 and P2 DURING THE CHINESE GP WITH FBMW-ASIA
Earl Bamber (New Zealand: Team Meritus) came to Shanghai in winning form, eager to impress his future F1 team bosses at the Chinese Grand Prix. He took his first win during Round 15 of the Formula BMW Asia Championship yesterday. In Round 16 of the Championship today Earl was very much at home in the New Zealand-type wet weather conditions and was the only driver to venture off-line. Earl succeeded in taking two cars in the first 3 laps and finally taking Daniel Ricciardo on the penultimate lap, following a five-lap battle which allowed Sam Abay to pull out a 0.35sec lead. With the final three rounds (and 63 points available) of the series to be held later this month on the Zhuhai International Circuit in Southern China, Earl, who is trailing the leader by 16 points (Sam Abay: Australia: Team E-Rain) remains confident that he has the best car in the series and the rest is down to lady luck.
Says Earl: "the car was absolutely fantastic. Every time we discussed with the Meritus engineers and data analyst we found improvements and immediately the car improved. During an F1 support event we don't have much testing to fine tune the car and its important to work with and understand the data. With four wins on this circuit in the past, the team has the best data."
Qualifying for Rounds 15 and 16 took place during one 30-minute session (on Saturday morning) with the first and second quickest times of each driver going towards grid positions of the two rounds. While Earl was watching the F1 morning test session his thoughts were on the rain which was falling heavily on the track. The conditions did not improve before qualifying with the session starting wet and drying out during the last ten minutes. Earl managed to put in his flying lap at the last minute taking P1 position behind championship leader Sam Abay, followed by Dominic Storey (New Zealand: Team Eurasia) and Daniel Ricciardo (Australia: Team Eurasia).
Earl says: "the conditions were really bad. Before we went out to qualify it certainly seemed as if it was starting to dry and we chose a semi-wet set up which meant that the car didn't handle well in the early part of the session. However, the car was perfect once the circuit dried out, but by then I only had enough time left to put in one flying lap. If I had another three minutes I'm sure I would have taken P2 in both races but I ended up qualifying P2 for Round 15 and my second best time put me P5 for Round 16. Sam Abay the championship leader took P1 for both rounds."
During Friday's 30-minute free practice Earl was quickest up until the last minute when Daniel Ricciardo pipped him to P1. The track was very green, however data showed that if Earl had short shifted between two fast corners onto the pit straight he could have gained 6/10ths and would have been quickest overall. The Meritus team and Earl worked hard overnight reviewing the last three years of data, where Meritus had won all rounds on the Shanghai circuit. All were confident that they had the right dynamics, depending on the final conditions for Round 15.
Watching F1 qualifying which was staged immediately before Round 15 one would think that Earl was dreaming when he would be taking part in an F1 event. However Earl is a very focused professional young man and not a dreamer; he knows that his career will be judged by his results. He was focusing with his team on choosing the right car dynamics considering the obviously wet conditions for round 15 and listening to the in-car radio warnings of David Coulhard to his team that he couldn't see the front of his car due to the amount of spray. The choice was easy - full wet - leaving limited amounts of overtaking options off line.
Earl had a good start, tucking behind and following Sam Abay through turns 1 and 2 and filling his mirrors throughout the lap he was on Sam's tail through the fast corners leading onto the pit straight. By the end of the first lap of Round 15 Earl had drafted by Sam Abay and continued to pull out a 3