SG Formula: anger buzzing... SG Formula is the only French team entered in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup. But the trip to the Hungaroring has left a bad taste lingering in the mouths of everyone in the team, despite the podium places won...
SG Formula: anger buzzing...
SG Formula is the only French team entered in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup. But the trip to the Hungaroring has left a bad taste lingering in the mouths of everyone in the team, despite the podium places won by Jon Lancaster and Nelson Panciatici.
26 out of 38 drivers picked up penalties during qualifying. Amongst those to have one or more of their best lap times docked were Jules Bianchi, who had won both pole positions, and Charles Pic, who was lying 2nd in the championship standings going into the race.
Team-manager Stéphane Guérin decided to speak out and say why he found the events of the weekend in Hungary so hard to digest.
"When you turn up on a track you don't know and straight away you clock the three fastest times then of course you are going to be disappointed when you see an outcome like this. You start to wonder what on earth went wrong. Now I'm all for enforcing discipline with penalties and for using the latest data analysis techniques as proof when things go wrong. It is perfectly normal to penalise things like dangerous driving, deliberate shunting, failure to observe the yellow flag, or practicing starts during the warm-up lap. But sometimes the race stewards get a bit carried away or hand out punishment that doesn't fit the crime. In Nürburgring, Jules Bianchi went round another car in order to avoid running into it during a botched safety-car procedure that created a bottleneck. All he got for his pains was two drive-throughs in the next meeting. The race organisers didn't bother to examine the driver's manoeuvre from the safety angle nor did they give him any real means of recourse. In other words, all he could hope for in Hungary was to familiarise himself with the track and try to pick up the fastest lap time in the race, which he duly did. He clocked up the two fastest laps in the Hungaroring qualifying session, including a superb 1'43''6 which was by far the best of the week's racing. A totally faultless lap, we should add, with not the slightest hint of irregularity. That didn't stop them taking it away from him for going off during another lap. He restarted that lap driving very gingerly, and finished it 10 seconds slower than he would have done normally.
"A similar fate awaited Charles Pic. Attacking corners a little too strongly, he put the wheels on the wrong side of the white line a couple of times. But, realising his mistake, on both occasions he eased off and it didn't result in an improvement to his lap times. They scratched his two best times for that, both of them perfectly valid. I can't think of anything more frustrating than that for drivers, engineers and the whole team alike. What I see is that a driver who attacks during qualifying is penalised. It's a pure speed exercise after all! You can't blame a driver for the odd mistake, unless you want to take the soul out of motor racing. To my mind that's not the way it should be in the Eurocup. We are talking about an international class single-seat motor racing category, one that is currently the best preparation for F3, World Series 3.5 and GP2, and I want it to stay that way. If we are going to get carried away with penalties then it won't be a motor sport any more. The severity of the penalty handed out to Charles Pic may affect the outcome of the championships. He was ahead of his closest rivals on the starting grid before he picked up those penalties. The gap between him and the current leader is not a true reflection of the relative performance of the teams and drivers. It's unfair. We trudged away from the track with the impression of having lost a race we couldn't lose."
On the results front, SG Formula was nevertheless able to console itself with Jon Lancaster's first podium place in the category, and the return to form of Nelson Panciatici. The Briton finished second on Saturday. RDD driver Panciatici took third place on Sunday after starting in second place on the grid. The previous day he had lost out due to a crash at the start of the race, but he's still in with a chance of doing something in the championship, in which he is currently lying 7th.
French championship leader Jules Bianchi, making his second appearance on the European stage, was poleman on the Saturday but was eliminated at the first bend - shunted from behind! He was diabolically fast all weekend, as you can see from the best race lap time he clocked on the Sunday, after having served his drive through.
Starting from back on 18th place on the grid on the Saturday, for the reasons we have seen, Charles Pic carved magnificently through the field to take the chequered flag in 6th place. In doing so, he managed to get past close championship rival Henki Waldschmidt on the final lap. But after starting right back in 36th place he couldn't hope for much in Sunday's race, which anyway he went out of trying to overtake. So today he sits 3rd on the current Eurocop leaders board.
Alexandre Marsoin came within one place of picking up his first championship point. His performance during open practice showed that if it hadn't been for a couple of irregularities he might have been in contention for a podium place.
Looking at the performance of his drivers, Stéphane Guérin said: "The whole team is thrilled to see Jon on the podium for the first time. They think so much of him. This is an important first step, but there is still scope for improvement, especially when it comes to new tyres management. But he's learning fast and this second place is a just reward for all the effort he has put into improving himself. After a rough patch Nelson was glad to be back on the podium too, bringing himself back into contention in the championship. He needs to build on this result. Penalty points apart, Charles was quick all weekend. The way he qualified was not perfect by any means, partly our fault because he rejoined the session behind two of his stable-mates just when he left the pitlane with his second set of new tyres. He was as steady as a rock on the Saturday, picking up unexpected points. If Hungaroring was a tough outing for the rookie then so will Donington be, because it is a track that most of his rivals, unlike him, are familiar with. But everyone will be doing their utmost to keep his hopes alive in the championship. Alex has a tendency to make unforced errors, which is a shame considering his natural talent. He's gone up a notch since his win in Dijon, he just needs to work serenely. Circumstances prevented Jules from doing anything in the race but he nevertheless signed a peerless fastest lap on the Sunday. All he needs to improve is the way he starts races. Although it doesn't appear on the official results, I think his 1'43''6 lap time raised more than a few eyebrows. He displayed talent worthy of the best at European level. We've been flat out in two consecutive races now, even having to change Alexandre Marsoin's clutch fork in record-breaking time! We got what is normally a 3-hour job done in one."
The next rendezvous is Donington Park on September 8-9 for rounds 7 and 8.
-credit: sg formula