Saturday morning saw a very difficult qualifying session, on a soaked track, with puddles of water making aquaplaning very easy.
After a strong showing in yesterday's Free Practice sessions, I.S.R. confirmed their great potential on Race Day: in difficult track conditions, with heavy rain showers hitting the track during both Qualifying and Race 1, the Czech team showed a prompt reaction gave their drivers two very competitive cars, clinching a deserved third place finish with Sergey Sirotkin.
The forecasts proved to be wrong when rain started falling again with 5 minutes to the start, giving the drivers another very hard challenge and forcing Race Direction to opt for a start under Safety-Car. That meant that the race's effective start took place at the end of lap 2, and Sirotkin immediately made up three places, passing Stevens and then gaining another couple of spots thanks to a contact between Da Costa and Aleshin.
Once in P3, the Russian talent focused on keeping the car on track while lapping on the quickest possible pace, a mission made very hard by an incredibly slippery track. Still, Sergey was able to achieve his goal, managing his car's performance like an experienced pro driver: after being under pressure from Magnussen he had to let the Dane through, but just one lap later he passed Negrao to secure 3rd place again, bagging the second podium finish of his season.
On the team's #8 car Zanella was doing a good job too. Starting from row 7 he managed to recover to P10 in just a few laps, but then a spin demoted him to 15th place. After rejoining the young Swiss boasted an amazing place that allowed him to climb back to P11 very quickly but unluckily he spun again exiting the chicane on lap 12, and this time he couldn't restart his car.
Sergey Sirotkin: (Q1 - 6; R1 - P3): "I'm really happy, the summer break felt very long and I was looking forward to this meeting. Starting with a podium in Race 1 is the best thing that could happen to us, and I'm especially happy for the team, as we really had our share of bad luck in the past events. The race itself was really hard, the track was so slippery that it was a matter of surviving without making mistakes or damaging the car, and I believe that it was the same for everybody out there. We were quick, but not enough to challenge Muller and Magnussen, so we know that there's still some room for improvement".
Christopher Zanella: (Q1 - P14; R1 – DNF): "It's a pity, because my pace was really good and I was overtaking my rivals pretty easily. Still, I was pushing hard in order to recover, and in conditions like those we had today the difference between controlling the car and spinning is very subtle. I'm disappointed, but at least I know that I was quick today".