Tech 1 Racing in the lead at the half-way mark! Magny-Cours marked the half-way stage of the 2010 Formula Renault 3.5 Series season. While Tech 1 Racing did not score a victory on French soil, the Toulouse-based team came away with a good haul...
Tech 1 Racing in the lead at the half-way mark!
Magny-Cours marked the half-way stage of the 2010 Formula Renault 3.5 Series season. While Tech 1 Racing did not score a victory on French soil, the Toulouse-based team came away with a good haul of points thanks to a pole position, another fastest lap in the race and two top-6 finishes. Thus, with half the races run, Tech 1 Racing has consolidated its lead in the Teams' Classification with more than 20 points in hand over its nearest rival. Daniel Ricciardo (2nd) and Brendon Hartley (7th) are both in the running for the drivers' title. The second part of the season, which begins next week in Budapest, will be decisive for the outcome of the championship.
The World Series by Renault was back at the Magny-Cours circuit where the Formula Renault 3.5 Series cars have put on a spectacular display of racing since 2007. To prepare for this round, Tech 1 Racing went to the Nevers track this winter for a collective test session with the other teams in the championship.
In free practice, Tech 1 Racing again showed the speed of its cars but the fickle weather was already upsetting the drivers' plans. Daniel Ricciardo set the third-quickest and Brendon Hartley the twentieth time without bolting on new tyres.
On Saturday morning in the light aero set-up, Daniel and Brendon were caught out by the traffic. The New Zealander qualified eighth and the Australian tenth. "In qualifying, you have to know how to get the best out of the tyres at the right moment and cope with the traffic," was how Simon Abadie, the Tech 1 Racing team manager analysed the situation. "Daniel and Brendon had the cars to qualify on the front row but they did not do a great job. When that happens it's difficult to have a good race."
The first race was run in the rain and Hartley went out on lap 1. Ricciardo made a good start, pulled back a few places and finished sixth scoring valuable points.
On Sunday, Ricciardo scored his fourth pole of the season. "That shows that Saturday's qualifying was an accident, and it also highlights the potential of our cars," commented Simon. "Daniel proved his proactive capacity and had a perfect qualifying session. It's a pity that Brendon wasn't able to take full advantage of it as he set his quickest time on the sxith lap. Once again, he failed to make the best use of his tyres when they were at their optimum performance level."
On Sunday, a shower fell when the cars were on the grid forcing Race Control to delay the start. When the cars were finally unleashed, slick tyres looked to be the best solution so the Tech 1 Racing team changed its drivers' rubber. "That was what we had to do," said Abadie. "Unfortunately, an air gun malfunctioned and we lost time changing the tyres on Daniel's car. We finished the job after the 5-minute board had been displayed. We took the decision to change the tyres on Brendon's car too late, and there too we did so after the 5-minute board. So we knew before the start that both our drivers would be hit with a drive-through penalty."
The race got off to a bad start for Hartley whose car failed to fire up at the beginning of the formation lap. He finally got away from the pits and quickly climbed up to tenth despite his penalty. Ricciardo was far and away the quickest driver on the track as proved by his fastest lap before his penalty. He saw the flag in second place.
"Daniel should have won this race. Our mistake on the grid cost him victory so we're rather disappointed as without that penalty he would have won. Brendon, who started from the pits, also drove a good race and made a spectacular comeback. But he then decided to come in for rain tyres when a fresh shower fell - but it didn't last! It was not the right decision.
"Points wise, it wasn't a great weekend for us as we've lost a little ground to the leader in the drivers' classification, but we're only nine points behind with four meetings to go till the end of the season, so there's still everything to play for. It's all-out war this year! We're battling against rivals who have a lot of experience. We've got what it takes in terms of out-and-out performance and we're fast in the pits. At Brno and Magny-Cours we were the most efficient when it came to tyre changes. We have to pull off a big coup in Budapest where we've always been quick. If we follow our game plan we'll be champions at the end of the year. But to achieve this we must not make any mistakes."
The scene is set! In Budapest Daniel Ricciardo and Brendon Hartley will be out for victory to consolidate their positions in the Drivers' and Teams' Championships before the summer break.
-source: tech 1