Tambay's FBMW winning streak ends after seven months on emotional visit to Zolder Adrien Tambay, the 17-year old French schoolboy travelled to Zolder in Belgium at the weekend, for rounds 3 and 4 of the 2008 season FBMW Europe ...
Tambay's FBMW winning streak ends after seven months on emotional visit to Zolder
Adrien Tambay, the 17-year old French schoolboy travelled to Zolder in Belgium at the weekend, for rounds 3 and 4 of the 2008 season FBMW Europe championship. Unbeaten in the championship since claiming a double victory at Hockenheim in October of 2007, he had what he described as a `character building' weekend in Zolder, claiming just a single podium finish from the weekend's two races, and slipping to second overall in the series points.
In the four weeks since Tambay dominated the season opening FBMW races on the weekend of the Barcelona F1 Grand Prix, he had tested in comparatively cold conditions at both Hockenheim in Germany, where he broke the class lap record, and again at Zolder, where he was again at the sharp end of the field.
Heading into the Zolder race weekend, confidence and expectations were running high, but from the first laps of practice, then again in qualifying, it was clear that he and his team were going to struggle for outright pace. With track conditions entirely different than had been experienced in the recent test - track surface temperatures were much hotter, and the presence of other series at the circuit meant that there was a lot more rubber on the surface - he qualified 10th fastest for Sunday's first race and 6th fastest for the second race.
Starting well in race one, Tambay, son of former Ferrari F1 race winner, Patrick, worked his way through to sixth place, before becoming involved in a physical battle with a slower car. Forced off-track when the slower car `brake-tested' him, Tambay re-joined , the nose of his race-car damaged sufficiently to thwart his race to the front of the pack. As the chequered flag brought the race to an end, 8th was the best he could do in a race which was won by Mexican, Esteban Gutierrez.
His car repaired ahead of race two, Tambay took to the grid conscious that he needed a much stronger result if he would retain his series points lead, in what is widely recognised to be the most competitive series for young drivers. Again starting strongly, from 6th, he battled cleanly and with determination to claim third at the end of the race. The race was again won by Gutierrez, who overtook Tambay in the series rankings, leading him by a narrow margin of 12 points.
Speaking immediately before heading back home to France, Adrien Tambay commented, "What a disappointing weekend. We came here expecting to run much more strongly, and we just weren't there (on pace). I did my best in both races. I felt that I could have perhaps claimed another couple of places in the first race, had I not suffered the damage (to my car) when Huertas forced me off. For the second race, I needed to bank a strong finish, so I drove with a little more reserve than may otherwise have been the case, and got back onto the podium. I've lost my lead in the series, which shows how competitive this championship is. You really can't afford too many bad days, but my congratulations to Esteban, he made the most of his opportunity."
Patrick Tambay had the final word, offering his own perspective on the family's visit to Zolder, "Zolder is a tight and twisty circuit; a challenge for all drivers. Of course, 26 years ago, we lost our great friend Gilles (Villeneuve) here, in his tragic accident in the Grand Prix. As you know, his death led to my opportunity to drive his car for Ferrari, where I enjoyed my finest successes, but of course, I'd swap all that and so much more not to have lost such a wonderful friend and competitor. Returning to Zolder, with Adrien carrying that same number 27...it's been tough, and he has really shared that emotion. We're glad to be moving on to Silverstone."
Rounds five and six of the FBMW Europe series takes Adrien Tambay and his Eifelland Racing team to the Silverstone circuit in England on the weekend of July 4th - 6th, when the series rejoins the F1 Grand Prix support package. Having run strongly at Silverstone in pre-season testing, it's `fingers crossed' for Adrien Tambay to recover his winning form. Before then, he spends the day with the French Army (Monday) - as all French students must - and two weeks later, he faces his final high school exams.