SG Formula gets one podium place per race in Germany SG Formula drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Andrea Caldarelli took it in turns to be on the 3rd rung of the podium at the Nurburgring, thus retaining their first and second slots at the head of...
SG Formula gets one podium place per race in Germany
SG Formula drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Andrea Caldarelli took it in turns to be on the 3rd rung of the podium at the Nurburgring, thus retaining their first and second slots at the head of the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup standings. These results mean SG Formula stay top of the team standings, just a few days ahead of French round of the championship.
The Nurburgring meeting was always going to be a tough one for the boys from La Rochelle, given the team's relative lack of mileage on this circuit compared to one or two of its more redoubtable rivals. However, team and drivers alike fought valiantly over in the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany.
Toyota Driver Program driver Andrea Caldarelli had a very good meeting. He was the fastest man in the first session of open practice, saving his best time for the final lap. After coming through qualifying in 2nd place in his group, Andrea went on to clock the 4th fastest time in the Superpole, which earned him a spot on the outside of the second line of the starting grid for the two main races. The latter were to all intents and purposed decided in the dash from the start. In Saturday's race, the Italian driver was lying 5th after the start but shot into 3rd place on the Sunday. That's the way things stayed in both races until the chequered flag was taken.
"It was not easy for Andrea or for any of his team-mates because we were not in top shape here at the Nurburgring," observed team-manager Stephane Guerin. "There is not a lot of grip on this circuit, so we were expecting to have a tough time here, despite our victory in 2007." We were competitive on new tyres but after that it got hard for us, and our drivers were not in a position to go flat out. So in these circumstances I was very pleased with Andrea's gritty performance. He's a warrior, as his fastest time in the first session of practice on a dodgy surface demonstrated, and he gave Mehri a run for his money at the start of Race 2."
After winning 4 of his first 6 races, Daniel Ricciardo could only add a 3rd place to his tally on the Saturday, and a 5th place on the Sunday. Stephane Guerin gave us a few insights into why: "This summer Daniel made his debut in Formula 3, which enabled him to exhibit his talent at that level. But to me it's clear he's had a few problems readjusting to Formula Renault 2.0, both mentally and technically, because of lower grip and downforce in this category. But in Race 1 he showed he was getting to grips with the problem; he moved up four places within half a lap at the start! So, bring on Le Mans!"
The surprise package in the Superpole was rookie Jean-Eric Vergne, who qualified for 3rd place on the grid of both main races. Unfortunately, if the young driver from Ile-de-France has a weakness it is his start technique, and Race 1 saw him lose three slots at the start. He finished the race 6th. History repeated itself on the Sunday. He finished the race 6th again, only to have the result taken away from him afterwards for unsporting behaviour. "What Jean-Eric achieved in qualifying is more than pleasing," said Stephane Guerin. "He's the top 'pure' rookie in the Eurocup (editor's note: Costa, who is ahead of him in the championship, has already driven in F3), but he has to work on this problem he has off the grid. Dropping places in this way is demoralising. As for his 25-second penalty, well I respect the impartiality of the stewards but for my part I thought it was a very harsh decision. Jean-Eric didn't change driving line twice and there was no contact with Hegewald. The manoeuvre may have been feisty but not illegal. We didn't lodge an appeal for the simple reason that the rules don't allow it."
SG Formula's other two drivers, Anton Nebylitskiy and Ramez Azzam, didn't notch any points in Germany. "Ramez qualified twice for the Superpole, which shows that he is capable. But he needs to count less on his potential and concentrate more on the way he prepares for meetings and how he doses his effort in them. At the Nurburgring, he didn't get into his stride until the Sunday but by then it was too late, he was right at the back of the grid. Anton was lying 6th during practice on the dry. If we analyse his times corner by corner, we can see that in some places he did better than any of his team-mates! After that, he qualified for the Superpole for the first time ever. That decided him to put the needle in the red despite our telling him it wasn't necessary! There you go, he's an aggressive driver. But it led to a few wheels-locked situations that robbed him of a better place on the main race starting grids."
SG Formula has a busy and challenging week coming up. On September 6-7 the World Series by Renault will be coming to Le Mans, and on the same programme will be rounds of the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and of the West European Cup.