Tech 1 and Parente consolidate their pace
The second round of the World Series took place at the Nurburgring last weekend in front of more than 110,000 spectators. By giving Tech 1 Racing another podium, Alvaro Parente scored enough points to ensure that he maintains second place in the championship behind Sebastien Vettel. Despite his promising turn of speed during qualifying, Julien Jousse did not enjoy the same success during the races.
Three weeks after racing at Monza, the World Series teams headed for another classic venue : the Nurburgring, home to the Formula 1 European Grand Prix. As the entire field had tested at the circuit in March, free practice consisted of just two sessions of 45 minutes.
While both Tech 1 Racing drivers ended Thursday in the top 10, the team spared no efforts in trying to find those extra tenths of a second that would make a difference against its rivals.
On Saturday morning, the qualifying session allowed the Toulouse-based outfit to measure the progress they had achieved. Alvaro and Julien set 3rd and 5th fastest times in their groups. Team boss Simon Abadie believed that pole position would have been possible. " We chose to use just one set of new tyres, in order to keep a set back for the race on Sunday " he explained. " When Alvaro was running on fresh rubber, he set fastest time, until Vettel and Hanley got past him at their second attempt. As for Julien, the stopwatch proved that his performance at Monza was no flash in the pan. With a second set of new tyres, he would undoubtedly have been fourth on the grid or higher. "
The first race got underway on Saturday afternoon in blazing sunshine. As usual, there was drama at the first hairpin. Alvaro unintentionally ran into Aleshin, who spun. Tech 1 Racing's Portuguese driver was 4th at the end of the opening lap, behind Vettel, Hanley and Barba. He kept the place until the obligatory round of pit stops. Thanks to some quick work by the Tech 1 mechanics, the three seconds that Alvaro had gained on Barba allowed him to re-join the race in 3rd place ! Despite some very worn front tyres at the end of the race, Alvaro managed to fend off the Spaniard to the chequered flag -- scoring his second podium of the season !
Julien's race was more tricky. He lost out in the traffic at the first hairpin and was unable to capitalise upon his good starting position. Having been 9th on the grid, he ended the first lap in 16th. Nonetheless, the young Frenchman refused to be discouraged and he racked up plenty of experience in the middle of the pack -- making the first-ever pit stop of his career as well ! Unfortunately, a coming together with James Walker meant that he dropped several places at the end of the race and had to settle for 19th.
More drama was to follow : at the end of the race the stewards hit Alvaro with a penalty for the contact with Aleshin at the first corner. The Tech 1 Racing driver lost 10 places on the grid for race two, dropping from 8th to 18th.
Once more, the first corner was characterised by several incidents -- one of which left the unfortunate Julien on the sidelines ! Alvaro came off a lot better, making up five places on the opening lap. Having risen to 11th, he spent 14 laps trying to find a way past Daniil Move. The former British Formula 3 champion finally made his move 8 laps from the end, but the gap to the rest of the pack meant that he was unable to make any further progress.
" It's been a positive weekend " concluded Simon Abadie. " The team worked well between practice and qualifying to improve our performance. Even though Alvaro has not come away from here leading the championship, he has scored enough points to enable him to stay in touch with Vettel in front. I'm disappointed for Julien : he did what was needed in qualifying, but was caught out by racing incidents that were not his fault. With a bit more luck on his side, he is capable of surprising a few people-- "
The next World Series meeting will take place in three weeks time, when the Formula Renault 3.5 cars will raise the curtain for the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix.