DAMS is ready to take up new challenges!
DAMS is delighted that Carlos Sainz its 2014 champion is already hitting the headlines in Formula 1 with Toro Rosso. However, all the French team’s attention is now firmly concentrated on the new Formula Renault 3.5 season. After testing at Jerez (5-6 March) and Motorland Aragon (30-31 March) it’s time to take stock of the situation and the season’s prospects.
The first point is that DAMS like all the other teams has to get used to the new regulations. Henceforth, the F.R 3.5 meetings will take place with two different aerodynamic configurations for the cars. On Saturday they will race in low-downforce (LDF) mode and on Sunday in high downforce mode (HDF). This means that the rear wings will be run at the lowest possible angle (LDF) or the highest (HDF). The main aim is to radically modify the car’s behavior to give the driver’s role priority importance and create more spectacular on-track action. In concrete terms this gives a difference of a second per lap (quicker in HDF) and a reduction in performance of around 2 seconds per lap compared to 2014 taking the Motorland Aragon figures into account. However, the gap will certainly close during the season.
Second point: work at the circuit. Where DAMS is concerned it has had to build relations between drivers, engineers and mechanics as the team has two newcomers, Dean Stoneman and Nyck de Vries, both rookies in F.R 3.5. Everything fell into place without problems during the four days’ testing in Spain. Stoneman’s huge, spectacular accident on the first day at Jerez didn’t dent the guys’ morale. Quite the opposite as working until 06h00 in the morning to repair his car probably helped weld the team even closer together. In technical terms the four days preparation enabled the squad to run through the setups and work on different procedures (pit stops, starts, restarts, etc.).
In terms of times DAMS picked up momentum over the four days. As his first one on the Jerez circuit had been written off, Dean approached the second day with understandable caution, while Nyck fine-tuned his setup and got into the swing of things. The improvement was obvious at Motorland Aragon where Stoneman set the second-quickest time on the first day, (HDF) and then the fastest time on the afternoon of the second day (LDF, 1:41.273). De Vries improved from the 14th-best time on day 1 to 5th quickest the next, an excellent progression.
Thus, the overall result is very positive and encouraging. But the French squad will have to cope with very tough competition, in particular Fortec with two redoubtable drivers back for the second year, Rowland and Jaafar, as well as Matthieu Vaxivière, who was always among the front-runners during the tests, Tom Dillman and Tino Ellinas. DAMS, though, has the weapons it takes to defend its crowns.
Dean Stoneman: “First of all I’m very happy to be part of DAMS. I fitted in without problems and I very much appreciate the working ambiance. The mechanics made a big impression on me by the way in which they repaired my car at Jerez. So my season really started at Motorland Aragon and we made a lot of progress. Although we ran into a few minor glitches I was able to set the fastest time on the final day and that’s a good sign in view of the championship. We’ll be competitive and I’m really looking forward to the start of the first race.”
Nyck de Vries: “My first day at Jerez was a bit difficult. I had to find the right rhythm and it took me a little time to feel at home in the car. But the next day things were a lot better and I was satisfied with our progress. At Motorland I concentrated on my driving and on the setups. We explored different avenues and corrected the car’s balance. Overall, I’m happy with the final day which ended with an encouraging time. I hope that it’ll turn into results at the beginning of the championship.”
François Sicard, DAMS Managing Director: “After a superb season in 2014 we’re restarting on a new base with new drivers. Although they’re both making their debut in the category I’ve got no doubts as to their talent and their capacities. Dean is a marvellous example of motivation for the whole team and Nyck brings his freshness and his desire to learn. We’ve drawn a lot of positive information from the preliminary tests as we were able to work in good conditions and evolve the cars to meet the drivers’ requirements. The striking improvement in their performances over the sessions makes us feel very optimistic before the first round, even if we’re fully aware of just how determined our rivals are.”
First round: 25-26 April at Motorland Aragon (Spain)