DAMS BOUNCE BACK WITH GP3 POINTS IN BUDAPEST
DAMS driver Bruno Baptista charged to his first GP3 Series points finish with a deserved 10th place finish at the Hungaroring, Hungary (28-30 July).
The Brazilian driver showed strong pace throughout the weekend to give DAMS a second points finish of the year, with Sauber F1 Development Driver Tatiana Calderon forced to retire after her best qualifying performance in the series.
On his GP3 debut, Frenchman Matthieu Vaxiviere made steady improvements in each session to finish just outside the top 10 in both races.
Free Practice and Qualifying
It was a strong start in Hungary for Baptista who was 10th in Friday practice. The 20-year-old was unable to match that time in qualifying and he lined up 16th on the Feature Race grid.
Colombian driver Calderón also enjoyed a fantastic start to the weekend, flying to ninth place in practice before producing her best GP3 qualifying result in 10th.
22-year-old Vaxivière used the early sessions to gain a better understanding of the car, going 15th fastest in practice, before qualifying 19th after struggling to match his early pace.
Bruno Baptista: “We started really well in free practice, but made a few set-up changes for qualifying and I lost a lot of that initial pace, meaning we had to start much further back than I would’ve liked.”
Tatiana Calderón: “I was quite happy with the pace in free practice and qualifying. I think there was potential for me to be higher up the grid, but we were confident ahead of the races.”
Matthieu Vaxivière: “Everything was new to me in practice, but I was steadily learning and was happy with the improvements. Qualifying didn’t quite go to plan and I got a penalty, which forced me to start race one from the pit lane.”
Feature and Sprint Races
Baptista launched himself into 13th during the opening laps of race one, before improving to 10th after an early virtual safety car restart, which he held until the chequered flag. He retired from the Sprint Race when his car stopped.
After being forced to retire from the Feature Race, 24-year-old Calderón stormed through to 11th from the back of the grid on Sunday, but contact from behind led to a puncture and she finished 13th.
Starting his first GP3 race from the pitlane, Vaxivière showed good pace to finish just outside the points in 12th. The Formula V8 3.5 race-winner climbed to 11th in the Sprint Race, posting the second-fastest lap.
Bruno Baptista: “Race one went really well, I made some great overtakes and got into a good position early on. The result was positive, especially as we had a DRS issue that limited our top speed and meant we didn’t have the opportunity to overtake like the others. I had another solid start in race two, but the engine stopped and I had to retire.”
Tatiana Calderón: “In race one I had an incident in Turn 3 and had nowhere to go, so spun out. The puncture in the Sprint Race is frustrating, as we were looking at a points finish, but hopefully we can come back stronger after the break.”
Matthieu Vaxivière: “I understood more about the car due to the experience gained in race one and improved a lot. On Sunday I was more confident and was one of the quickest out there. The weekend was positive and I’d like to thank DAMS for the opportunity.”
François Sicard, Managing Director: “We were much happier with the whole package this weekend. Tatiana showed great pace and this was her best performance. The result is a shame for her, but we will come back stronger after the break. Bruno followed in her steps and the result was good. He still has to learn certain aspects, but we will work on this for the rest of the season. Matthieu was fantastic, he only had a few laps to get used to the car and he improved throughout all the sessions. He gave us good feedback and it worked well.”
Round five of the 2017 GP3 Series will take place at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium (25-27 August).