Any hopes that Javier Villa had of a good result in today's Sprint Race at Malaysia's Sepang circuit were ruined by the weather conditions following a heavy rain storm that caused the start of the race to be delayed by 30 minutes. The rain began...
Any hopes that Javier Villa had of a good result in today's Sprint Race at Malaysia's Sepang circuit were ruined by the weather conditions following a heavy rain storm that caused the start of the race to be delayed by 30 minutes.
The rain began to fall heavily as the cars were lined up on the grid as the cars were due to start their formation lap and so bad were the conditions that the decision was taken to abort the start. The race eventually began after the half hour delay with the track still very wet and for the first four laps the drivers followed the Safety Car as they got used to the very slippery conditions. As the Safety Car pulled off and the drivers got up to speed they immediately found the conditions very difficult with a lot of standing water and the cars throwing up a lot of spray.
Javier's race plan was to not make any mistakes and since he was starting from 19th place to go for an early stop for slicks a soon as the track showed signs of a dry line. As the cars started their 7th lap Javier was chasing Dalle Stelle in 23rd place as he adjusted his driving to the state of the track. With 11 of the scheduled 22 laps gone Javier had moved up to 20th place and was now following the Trident car of Teixeira but the track was still very wet and showing no hint of drying.
As the race entered the last 10 laps it was clear that the track was just not drying quickly enough to attempt a change to slicks, cars were still sliding wide and there was still a lot of spray from the cars for at least half of the lap. With the clock counting down the final laps as it was clear that the 2 hour race maximum would apply before the 22 laps were completed Javier was now in 19th place with no chance of improving his position.
As the cars completed their 20th lap the chequered flag was shown and Javier crossed the line still in 19th place, not the result he was hoping for but, allowing for the very difficult conditions, it was the best that could be expected. Javi set the 7th fastest race lap which indicates that if he had been higher up the grid at the start he would have been fighting for points in the race.
Javier's own words: "When we were in the pitlane some drops of rain started to fall and when we were stopped on the grid a heavy storm begun so the race was delayed for half an hour. Then we had to do the first laps behind the safety car. Our idea was to try to hold on and if it was dry enough, put slicks on and push, but it was not possible as the water lasted longer than expected. Despite this, we gathered a lot of information in these conditions which is always important.
As a summary, we are doing very well, as my engineer, with whom I started work at the Paul Ricard tests, was telling me: there we were the fastest, in Barcelona we were at the top again and here in the race we were always fast. I believe that just now we are very strong, we still have one more weekend to finish the Asian series and I expect to be able to do a great race to start the European series in Barcelona in the best possible way."