Armaan misses out on a possible top 5 finish The weekend started steadily for Armaan Ebrahim with an 18th place in the first official practice session on the Friday of the A1 Grand Prix of Nations race at Sentul, Indonesia. The 16 year old ...
Armaan misses out on a possible top 5 finish
The weekend started steadily for Armaan Ebrahim with an 18th place in the first official practice session on the Friday of the A1 Grand Prix of Nations race at Sentul, Indonesia. The 16 year old Indian racer then improved his position to 13th during the second official practice session on Friday afternoon. Both the sessions on Friday were held during wet weather which made the conditions even more challenging and difficult for all the teams and their drivers.
On Saturday morning during the third official practice session and in the afternoon before the official qualifying sessions, Armaan's mechanics could not do much work on the setup of the car, due to reasons beyond their control. This was a major setback, as both the practice and the qualifying were held in dry weather.
At the start of the sprint race on Sunday afternoon, Armaan used his experience in rolling starts from his karting days and jumped from 23rd on the grid to 19th by the end of the first lap. He followed up this with a steady drive over the 18 laps of the sprint race to finish in a solid 18th place, despite suffering from tremendous oversteer, which was making the car a real handful to control.
The standing start for the feature race was even more mercurial for Armaan, and together with a superbly aggressive first lap, it saw him rocket up the field from his starting position of 18th to an incredible 9th by the end of the first lap. He continued his strong race pace, working his way up to 5th by lap 9. The safety car came out early on in the race and by the end of the first safety car period Armaan was running ahead of the car of A1 Team Australia. When the lights went green again, Armaan began pulling away from Marcus Marshall of A1 Team Australia, who eventually went on to finish 3rd in the race.
Twenty minutes into the one hour long race, the Race Director issued Armaan with a drive through penalty, as he adjudged that Armaan's car had crawled before the start of the race, and thus a jump-start had been declared. This could have been due to the slightly downhill nature of the start-finish straight at the Sentul Circuit. After the drive through penalty, which Armaan took on lap 16, he emerged from the pits in 17th place.
On lap 20, Armaan dived into the pits again, for his mandatory tyre change pit-stop, taking advantage of another safety car period. This pit-stop unfortunately did not go well, with the left rear wheel getting jammed, thus causing a huge delay. When the wheel problem was finally sorted, the car stalled, and another 20 seconds were lost in re-starting the car. In his eagerness to rejoin the race ahead of the safety car (which would have allowed him to drive around and re-join at the back of the slowed down field), Armaan did not see the red light at the end of the pit-lane, and came straight back out onto the circuit. However, he had missed his window of opportunity, and had not made it out in front of the safety car, joining the field in the middle of the pack, now one lap down. To add to his misery, he was given another drive through penalty by the Race Director for ignoring the red light at the end of the pit-lane.
This was a crushing setback after an afternoon and a weekend of really hard work by Armaan and all his mechanics under very trying conditions, on and off the track. The Indian 16 year old prodigy showed supreme maturity and ability with his performances. An unfortunate concatenation of circumstances however, did not allow him the result he truly deserved this weekend.