SG Formula still invincible in Dijon -- and in the WEC! After Romain Grosjean twice in 2005, Julien Jousse and Jean-Karl Vernay in 2006, Alexandre Marsoin and Jules Bianchi in 2007-- SG Formula was keen to continue its unbroken series of Formula...
SG Formula still invincible in Dijon -- and in the WEC!
After Romain Grosjean twice in 2005, Julien Jousse and Jean-Karl Vernay in 2006, Alexandre Marsoin and Jules Bianchi in 2007-- SG Formula was keen to continue its unbroken series of Formula Renault 2.0 victories on the Dijon-Prenois circuit. It was mission accomplished as Daniel Ricciardo picked up two fine wins. With four races gone, the team from la Rochelle remains unbeaten in the West European Cup.
The only honour that escaped SG Formula was pole position in race 1. The team paid the price for a daring decision in the qualifier regarding the quantity of fuel taken on. When the red flag came out it broke the drivers' rhythm and when the race was restarted another warm up lap was required before qualifying began again. After signing excellent times in the first two sectors, the team's aces ran dry just as they were approaching the chequered flag, so Daniel Ricciardo, Jean-Eric Vergne, Andrea Caldarelli and Anton Nebylitskiy had to make do with 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th best times respectively.
Race 1 also got curtailed by a red flag. The outcome of this race was that Red Bull Junior Team's Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo and Toyota Driver Program's Italian driver Andrea Caldarelli took the two top spots on the podium and earned the right to a lap of honour in the official Megane convertible. However, instead of a 1-2 for SG Formula the official result saw Caldarelli relegated to 4th place, while Jean-Eric Vergne and Anton Nebylitskiy, the 4th and 5th men, also got pushed down a slot. Although Daniel rightfully retained his victor's mantle, the team felt obliged to publish an official press release on Sunday morning in protest at the official results. Since the red flag was indisputably waved in the 19th lap, SG Formula felt that according to FIA regulations the final standings should have been those of the 17th lap and not the 16th (as indeed the podium ceremony led us to believe).
Sunday's morning's pole position was Daniel's. He went on to lead the race from start to finish, signing another fastest lap in the process. 3rd placed man Anton was on the podium for the very first time in his career, after managing to hold off team-mate Andrea. Jean-Eric finished 5th, taking the honours as best-placed rookie and leading French Championship driver for the second time during the weekend. On the other hand, Ramez Azzam, who picked up his first points on the Saturday, couldn't to make it to the chequered flag.
Team-manager Stephane Guerin summed up the weekend in Burgundy as follows: "For us, the result of race 1 was the top podium place. Roberto Mehri should not have picked up any points on Saturday. But we have to put all that behind us now. The one good thing to result from this issue was the very constructive meeting we had with Renault Sport and WEC promoter, Signature. Shocked by the vehemence of our reaction, the race stewards' committee also asked to see us. We stated our views and were happy with the candid constructive dialogue we had with the President. After which, the best way to react was out on the track... which we proceeded to do by putting four drivers in the Top 5 on the Sunday! We were ultra-offensive strategy-wise, although we had to allow for special constraints imposed by this track with respect to tyres. Faced with a stiff challenge, our engineers made some excellent technical decisions. Our drivers did the right thing by not going flat out from the start, thus preserving their tyres in order to stay competitive until the end of the race."
The next round of the WEC takes place in Valencia next June 21-22 but before then SG Formula's Formula Renault 2.0 drivers will be off to Silverstone for the next Eurocup race on June 6-7.