Spa: Tech 1 Racing weekend summary

Looking forward to Monaco In terms of sheer performance the Tech 1 team certainly has what it takes to win, but it has been singularly lacking in success in the early part of the 2009 season. Although Charles Pic and Brendon Hartley have been ...

Looking forward to Monaco

In terms of sheer performance the Tech 1 team certainly has what it takes to win, but it has been singularly lacking in success in the early part of the 2009 season. Although Charles Pic and Brendon Hartley have been quick in qualifying, they have not been able to take full advantage of their speed in the races. The whole team expects great things in Monaco where Tech 1 Racing has not been beaten in the last two years.

Spa-Francorchamps is as atypical a circuit as it is exceptional. The Raidillon at Eau Rouge, Les Combes, Stavelot, Blanchimont and La Source are mythic names embedded in the history of motor racing. Tech 1 Racing was hoping to shine at this meeting to make up for its poor showing in the first round of the season.

The two collective test sessions went off according to plan. Charles Pic and Brendon Hartley set the tenth and eleventh-quickest times and managed to find a good setup. Their performance in qualifying on Saturday morning confirmed that they were on the right track, as they both made it into the Superpole shoot-out. It was Brendon's first time in this particular phase of the weekend and he was twelfth quickest. Charles ended up fifth in a hotly-disputed session.

In Saturday's race where the first eight in the SuperPole started in reverse order. Pic was on the second row and Hartley on the fifth. The Frenchman made a good start and was glued to the third-placed car's gearbox. He was quicker than his rival who held him up for three laps, enabling his immediate pursuers to overtake him. This dropped the Renault Development driver back to sixth, but he managed to get back to fifth and then slipped through into fourth on the last lap. Hartley was eighth for most of the race until a slow puncture dropped him back to eleventh.

In the next day's race in which a tyre change was obligatory, Pic surged through to third from fifth on the grid at the end of the Kemmel straight. He was locked in battle with Spaniard Miguel Molina for second and the two rubbed flanks on lap 2. Pic had no choice but to take to the grass at full speed in Les Combes losing two places. The team decided to bring him in early, adopting the same strategy as James Walker, the winner of the race. Pic lost all hopes of a good finish when a wheel jammed during his stop. He rejoined at the back of the field and retired with an overheated engine due to his trip over the grass.

Hartley, who started from thirteenth on the grid, was part of the next group. The New Zealander picked up a few positions towards the end and saw the flag in tenth spot. The Red Bull Junior Team driver had an incident-free race during which he accumulated some more valuable experience at the wheel of a Formula 3.5 that he is getting to grips with. "Brendon lacks track time," explained Simon Abadie. "He needs a test session without being under the pressure of racing: we're going to organise that before Monaco. Don't forget that he had his first real run in the car at the opening round in Barcelona, while his rivals had already taken part in several winter test sessions. He's got a lot of scope for progression."

The whole Tech 1 Racing team left Spa with a deep feeling of frustration. "The first race wasn't easy, "analysed Simon. "Charles had a difficult start and put himself in a tricky position when two rivals overtook him. He then managed to get back in the groove, and at the end of the race made up the ground lost, which is a good sign. Brendon's performance fell off towards the end due to a slow puncture."

"The second race was more worrying," Simon went on. "The team made mistakes; the drivers made mistakes: it's time for everybody to get their act together. Pit stops were one of our strong points; they mustn't become our weak point. The Formula Renault 3.5 Series is a very closely-fought championship where a tiny detail can put everything out of joint. You have to be perfect to win, as the slightest mistake can have huge consequences. Today, we lack composure. We have to get back to basics without turning things upside down. I've got every confidence in my team; we're double teams' champions; we've already proved what our level is and we're going to do it again - quickly. The man thing is to get back our confidence. I expect the whole team to buckle down and pull up their socks. We've got to do an exemplary job very quickly to start winning again. In a few days we'll be in Monaco. For several years this event is where our season has really begun. Charles hit the headlines last year by winning there. Brendon has already proved his skills on city circuits in F3, in Macao in particular. We're going to prepare really hard for this event. So we're confident, and as at every race our aim is to emerge victorious!"

-credit: tech 1

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About this article
Series Formula V8 3.5
Drivers James Walker , Simon Abadie , Brendon Hartley , Miguel Molina , Charles Pic