DAMS and Carlos Sainz still in the lead
The Russian round of the championship has always caused the Sarthe-based team a few headaches. 2014 was no exception although this time DAMS and Carlos Sainz, the leader in the drivers’ ratings, arrived at the Moscow Raceway with a good lead in terms of points. This proved very useful when it was time to tot up the points tally at the end of the meeting. Carlos Sainz’s sixth place on Sunday was good enough to help him maintain a comfortable 33-point advance over second-placed driver, Pierre Gasly. DAMS still has a solid margin of 32 points over Fortec in the teams’ championship.
On the Russian circuit DAMS’ solid lead at the start of the meeting provided a comfortable enough cushion in case the team should have an off-day. Free practice, though, seemed to indicate the opposite with Norman Nato and Carlos Sainz in third and fourth places in the first session. A change in the weather conditions on Saturday with a sudden drop in temperature and strong winds played havoc with the cars’ setups. The result was a disastrous qualifying session with Sainz in 16th place and Nato in 19th, which dashed the team’s hopes of a good result. In addition, the Spaniard was given a 2-place penalty on Sunday’s grid after contact with Oliver Rowland in race 1. Fortunately, a daring strategy in Sunday’s heat helped Carlos to limit the damage, which he did by calling on his talent and pugnacity. Nato showed his usual fighting spirit, but with ill-adapted setups and starting too far back on the grid he was unable to build on his promising free practice performances (3rd and 4th). The next round in Germany will give him another opportunity to show the full range of his talent.
The next meeting will be held at the Nürburgring, a circuit which is a halfway house between Monaco and Spa-Francorchamps, and quicker than the Moscow Raceway. It was not on last year’s calendar and the data at the teams’ disposal dates from 2012. One parameter that may play a crucial role is the weather, which is often capricious in the Eifel Mountains even in July.
François Sicard, Managing Director: “It’s obvious that we put on an under- par performance compared to our usual standards this weekend. We were unable to adapt to the changing weather conditions and we were always playing catch-up. We have to analyse all this. As a result the drivers didn’t have cars that met their requirements. Nonetheless, our direct rivals didn’t manage to take full advantage of this opportunity, and Carlos saved points in brilliant fashion. We’re also very sorry for Norman whose performance isn’t at fault. You can count on us to be back fighting at the front in the next race.”
Carlos Sainz: “We knew that Moscow would be a tough challenge for us. And so it proved as we had setup problems in qualifying. On Saturday the car was oversteering and the next day it was a bit understeery. This being said, we win as a team and we lose as a team. We managed to score points on Sunday and we’re still in the lead in both championships. But we’ve got to get back on the front foot at the Nürburgring.”
Norman Nato: “We were on the back foot nearly all weekend, and obviously I’ve come away feeling frustrated. We were pretty much on the ball on Friday in free practice, but after that we couldn’t find the right setup for Saturday or Sunday. It was very difficult starting from so far back each time, all the more so as overtaking isn’t easy on the Moscow Raceway. This hasn’t dented my optimism and we’re going to bounce back in Germany for sure!”
Next round: 12-13 July Nürburgring (Germany)