In Hungary, Tech 1 Racing again put on a good performance, particularly in qualifying. However, the team's bad luck streak continued in the races. But its motivation and confidence remain untouched. It just needs that little bit of luck to get back on the winning track.
The very twisty Budapest circuit hosted the fourth round of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. After their Monaco weekend, the whole Tech 1 Racing team arrived in Hungary full of high hopes, and everything got off to a perfect start in the collective test session. Charles Pic's job was to find the right setup, and Brendon Hartley's was to learn the track. Charles set the best time in the first session. The second confirmed that the Tech 1 Racing drivers were on the right track with Brendon and Charles setting the sixth and eight-quickest times respectively.
So it all looked good for qualifying. Brendon was the first out in Group B and he qualified easily for the SuperPole with the quickest time in his group. Charles was fifth fastest in his. Tech 1 Racing was the only team to have both its cars in the SuperPole.
The drivers improved their times at the end of the Super Pole, but Brendon was caught in traffic and could do no better than sixth. Charles ended two places higher up the grid with fourth. "We've got every reason to be happy with qualifying," summed up Simon Abadie. "It shows yet again that our cars are quick; we've got what it takes."
Thanks to the reverse grid, Brendon was on the second row for the first race. The New Zealander made an average start and went for it in the first corner. He did not brake until the very last moment to try and snatch the lead. But it ended in a spin! Charles found himself nose-to-nose with his team-mate and lost several places avoiding him. Brendon restarted in last place while the Frenchman was stuck in traffic. "Brendon tried to pull off a coup at the start. It it had worked out, it would have the start of the year and everybody would have said the guy's a genius. Unfortunately, it didn't," said Simon. "It's typical of the lack of success that's dogging us at the moment. It was impossible for Brendon and Charles to fight their way back to the front because overtaking's so difficult on this circuit. Brendon set the fastest lap in the race showing that we're on the pace."
The second race got off to a much better start for the team. Charles held on to his fourth place in the first corner and Brendon his sixth. The Red Bull driver's hopes were shattered on lap 6 when Jaime Alguersuari harpooned him while trying to get past. After the race the Spaniard was sanctioned by the stewards for his rash manoeuvre!
Up front it was all going swimmingly for Charles. The Renault Development driver was lying third just behind the first two. But as bad luck would have it, when Simon decided to call Pic in for his pit stop the safety car was deployed. In compliance with the regulations pitting during a neutralisation period is forbidden. The Tech 1 Racing team had to wait for the green flag to tell Pic to come in. This situation gave a big advantage to all the drivers who had stopped early on. The Frenchman finished eighth, when he was well placed to see the flag in third place if not higher. "It's kind of the same old story this year, but once again luck wasn't on our side. Charles drove perfectly and the team carried out an impeccable stop. We could have won this race, except that the safety car came out at the worst possible moment for us. Like all the leaders, our race was ruined."
Charles's and Brendon's results did not reflect the Tech 1 Racing team's full potential, as Simon underlined. "It's been a frustrating weekend for us as we didn't make any mistakes. Our cars were well prepared, the team did a great job and our drivers drove consistently and well. When things go normally, we're in the first to fifth-place bracket. It should not be forgotten that we've got the youngest drivers. They need to make their mark and gain experience. So what's the only thing lacking today? Just a smidgen of luck. We haven't reached the halfway mark in the championship yet. It's takes almost nothing to turn things around, and when this happens, I'm sure that we'll rack up good results. We're going to win races: all it needs is for Lady Luck to smile on us again!'
Next round: Early July on the Silverstone circuit.
-credit: tech 1