The Englishman still has a comfortable lead in the drivers' championship
The Sarthe-based team had a pretty hectic return to the circuits after the summer holidays, which it concluded with a top-3 finish (his ninth this season) for Jolyon Palmer after a no-holds-barred battle. The Englishman still has a comfortable lead in the drivers' championship with 32 points in hand over his main rival Felipe Nasr, but the latter is turning up the pressure.
Once again Lady Luck didn't smile on Stéphane Richelmi on Saturday, but he continued to prove his inherent speed the next day with a hard-charging drive even if he failed to score points.
The rain, which played hide and seek with the teams, made its first appearance in free practice. The DAMS drivers finished mid-field which pointed to a tough qualifying session. However, the championship leader dialed in a stunning lap and clinched a place on the front row (2nd) for the seventh time this season, while his Monegasque team-mate set the tenth-quickest time.
I've still got a good lead in the overall classification but I'm leaving Belgium with a feeling of disappointment.
The heavens opened shortly after the start on Saturday and the race was red-flagged. When the conditions calmed down and the race restarted the damage had already been done where the DAMS drivers were concerned. Palmer did not get off to a great start, but he called on his experience and fought his way up from eighth to sixth at the flag.
Richelmi who opted for slicks could do no better than twenty-first. On Sunday morning the sun reappeared and the second race was much less eventful. Palmer took advantage of the more clement conditions to clinch third place. Richelmi drove a superb race and carved his way up through the field to 12th place.
The next round will take the team to the high-speed Monza circuit, which has undergone a major revamp this year as the outside of the Parabolica had been covered with tarmac. Thus, any mistakes in this diabolically tricky curve will not be punished by a trip into the gravel trap. But the best will still fight at the front and DAMS and Palmer have often shone on this legendary circuit.
François Sicard: Managing Director: "We've got mixed feelings after this weekend. Admittedly we're still in the lead in both championships, but Carlin and Nasr did a better job restarting their challenge. It's up to us to fight back at the next round as it's going to be very closely fought till the end. Jolyon was determined to avoid any collisions in the first race and he again scored points, but he wasn't very satisfied with his weekend. Yet again Stéphane's performance was up to scratch as he showed on Sunday. They'll both be in maximum attack mode at Monza "
Jolyon Palmer: "I've still got a good lead in the overall classification but I'm leaving Belgium with a feeling of disappointment. I reckon I was a bit too cautious on Saturday in the heavy rain. But I put my head down and limited the damage. On Sunday I again had problems at the start. Victory was within my grasp, but finally I only came away with a top-three finish. I'll have to do better at Monza. "
Stéphane Richelmi: "I'm very frustrated. I could have qualified further up the grid, but our strategy of starting on slicks was a gamble. The rain ruined our bet, and in addition I did the whole race with my visor leaking so I had water and condensation in my helmet. I couldn't see a thing! On Sunday although I pushed as hard as I could I finished in the same place as in Hungary. Looking on the positive side the car's as quick as ever and I hope that my luck will turn. "