After its success at Silverstone, the whole Tech 1 Racing team was hoping to do at least as well at Le Mans in front of 110 000 spectators. The weekend, though, did live up to expectations and the team failed to bag a large haul of points. For the...
After its success at Silverstone, the whole Tech 1 Racing team was hoping to do at least as well at Le Mans in front of 110 000 spectators. The weekend, though, did live up to expectations and the team failed to bag a large haul of points. For the Portimao round, Red Bull Junior Team driver Daniel Ricciardo, the current British F3 Championship leader, will join the Tech 1 Racing squad.
Edoardo Mortara, one of the current GP2 hot shoes, joined the Tech 1 Racing team for the French round of the World Series by Renault Championship. His job was to score as many points as possible towards the teams' championship, while Charles Pic's was to continue his climb up the drivers' ladder.
The weekend got off to a great start as Edorado on new tyres set the second-quickest time straight away while Charles was back in eighth place. A shower in the second session made things difficult for the drivers. Even though the team failed to run through its full programme, both drivers approached qualifying in a confident frame of mind. "The rain played havoc with Edoardo's work in particular, as he still had quite a lot of things to test on the car," was how Simon Abadie, the Tech 1 Racing team manager, analysed the situation. "We'll have to be quick in qualifying as both our drivers are in the toughest group."
Charles and Edoardo had to qualify in the first six in their group to go through to the SuperPole. Both did what was expected of them with Pic setting the third-best time only 5/100ths of a second behind the fastest driver and Mortara finished fifth, so both Tech 1 drivers made it into in the SuperPole shootout. After a hotly-disputed session, Pic qualified in fourth place and the Italian in twelfth. So it was looking good for the two races.
As usual, the grid for the first round was in reverse order. This put Charles in fifth and Edoardo in eleventh places respectively. The start at Le Mans is always a tricky one as the first hurdle the drivers have to face is the famous Dunlop chicane. Edoardo made a stunning getaway and came round in sixth place at the end of lap 1 just ahead of Charles in seventh. At the halfway mark, Pic upped his pace and got past Mortaro who was suffering from fading brakes. He fell back to eighth and then retired after a collision with James Walker, whose passing move was a bit optimistic to say the least! Charles held on to his position until the flag and scored five points.
The next day, Pic made a great start from the second row to take third place. He was hot on the heels of the two leaders and a possible victory looked on the cards. But just behind, a very aggressive James Lancaster was trying to find a way past the Frenchman. He grazed Charles's car and punctured a tyre. The Frenchman had to crawl back to the pits for a wheel change. "Charles could have won this race," said Simon. "He was quick all weekend: we had a good strategy and we were on the pace. Unfortunately, the puncture ruined his chances and he really didn't deserve that. It's a pity because he's now a long way behind in the drivers' title chase."
The team's hopes were now pinned on Mortara. The Italian drove a stonking race, and the team decided to call him in as late as possible for his stop. As the cars pitted he led the race for 2 laps and then rejoined in ninth place just behind his rivals. The last 4 laps were particularly hectic. Edoardo showed his skills by pulling off some brilliant overtaking manoeuvres, in particular on the second-last lap when he was lying eighth as he sliced past two cars to take the chequered flag in sixth place.
"Obviously, we're pretty disappointed by this weekend's results as we could have at least finished on the podium. It's going to be very difficult for us to win the teams' and drivers' titles," Simon admitted. "On the other hand, we're very satisfied with our collaboration with Edoardo Mortara. It's always interesting to have an outsider's viewpoint. He adapted to the car very well and did a great job, and his second race was quite simply mind-blowing!"
Tech 1 Racing will enter a driver, new to the championship, for the next round, Daniel Ricciardo. In 2008, he won the Formula Renault 2.0 West European Cup and came second in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup. The Australian, who is a member of the Red Bull Junior Team, is currently leading the British Formula 3 Championship. He met the French squad a few days ago. "We're very happy to have Daniel with us. He met our engineers few days ago. It's the right choice for him to make his debut on a circuit that nobody knows. We'll do a one-hour run with him on the Guadix track to adjust his driving position and help him get to grips with our car. Welcome to him!" smiled Simon.
-credit: tech 1