PODIUM FOR ADRIAN QUAIFE-HOBBS IN SPA Adrian Quaife-Hobbs finished third in the opening race of the GP3 Series in Spa on Saturday afternoon and followed that up with fifth in race two on Sunday morning. The 19 year-old started race one from the...
PODIUM FOR ADRIAN QUAIFE-HOBBS IN SPA
Adrian Quaife-Hobbs finished third in the opening race of the GP3 Series in Spa on Saturday afternoon and followed that up with fifth in race two on Sunday morning. The 19 year-old started race one from the front row and made a good start to hold a comfortable second place for the opening three laps.
However on lap four, torrential rain soaked the track, making driving conditions treacherous, and catching out race leader Robert Wickens who spun off hitting the wall. This error allowed Adrian to move ahead and into the lead, while behind others were also spinning off the track.
With many other cars now strewn across the circuit, the red flag was shown and Adrian rightly slowed but the recovering Wickens and several others passed him for position. The safety car was then deployed causing a flurry of pit-lane activity as the majority of the field pitted for wet weather tyres, some rejoining the track ahead of Adrian, dropping him further down the order.
Despite his frustration at being passed under the red flag and the safety car, Adrian kept a cool head and, still on slick tyres, drove a mature race to cross the line sixth. Post race penalties were later imposed for the flag infringements and Adrian was rightly promoted to third to take his first GP3 podium.
Race two on Sunday proved equally tricky in the characteristically changeable Spa conditions. Lining up sixth Adrian made a great start to move into fifth on the opening lap, moving into fourth later on. However with oversteer seriously hampering Adrian's progress in the damp conditions, the Tonbridge teenager was unable to make any inroads into the cars ahead.
Typically race two was also hit by torrential rain when on lap four the heavens opened once again and the field all pitted for wet tyres. A slow pit stop however when his left front wheel dropped Adrian to seventh but a sterling recovery in the wet conditions moved Adrian up to sixth, the youngster finally finishing fifth at the flag.
"Testing was wet so we stayed out for the whole session to get acclimatised to the track on wet tyres, said Adrian. "We were first or second for pretty much the whole session and happy with the setup for those conditions. Then in qualifying although it wasn't raining the track was still wet so we chose to start on wets. On my first lap I put it on pole and was trading times with Wickens.
"However the track started to dry quickly and as the lap is so long at Spa I missed the window to come in and change to slicks. Then the yellow flag came out and I had to back off, while others didn't which dropped me down. They were later penalised though, so I took up the front row start for race one.
"I got a good start to hold second behind Wickens and after the safety car held position. On lap four the heavens opened and Wickens spun off into the wall. When they threw the red flag I slowed down but others came past me and I dropped down the order. The others pitted for wet weather tyres and still under the safety car they were passing me as they exited the pits. After the race several were penalised and I was awarded third but it's a little frustrating to get that after being second and even leading the race.
"In the intermediate conditions in race two I was struggling with oversteer but when the rain came down heavily, the car was much better. If we hadn't had that slow stop things could have been much better but sadly these cars are not designed for quick pit stops, they're not part of the normal race procedures and we had a problem changing one. The team once again did a good job though and we had the pace pretty much all weekend, so overall a good result."
Adrian will make his final GP3 appearance of the season in the last two rounds of the series at Monza in Italy, over the weekend of 11/12 September.