DAMS UNREWARDED AFTER STRONG GP3 QUALIFYING AT SPA
DAMS drivers Tatiana Calderón, Bruno Baptista and Matthieu Vaxivière were unable to capitalise on their strong pace early in the weekend after enduring challenging races in round four of the GP3 Series at Spa-Francorchamps.
It was a positive start to the weekend as Sauber F1 Team Development Driver Calderón, Frenchman Vaxivière and Brazilian Baptista set competitive times in free practice.
Vaxiviere then secured DAMS’ best qualifying result of the season, as Calderón impressively made the top-10 for the second weekend running. However, race incidents meant that all three drivers were unable to score points.
Free Practice & Qualifying
Colombian Calderón showed fine form in practice, going second quickest after topping it earlier in the session, before qualifying in 10th – equalling the best of her GP3 career.
In only his second GP3 Series weekend, Vaxivière was fifth-fastest in both practice and the wet qualifying session.
Baptista returned from the summer break after scoring his first point in Hungary and went 12th in practice. However, he was unable to get a clean lap in during qualifying and ended the session 19th.
Tatiana Calderón: “We started off really well in practice and even though I was hoping for a better result in the wet qualifying session, it was still very promising for the race.”
Matthieu Vaxivière: “Practice showed that we had good pace in the dry and when the rain came for qualifying we were unsure where we would be. It went well though and I was happy with my grid position for the Feature Race.”
Bruno Baptista: “In practice the car felt quite good and we continued to improve. I didn’t manage to get a good run in qualifying when the conditions were at their best, so had work to do for the races.”
Feature & Sprint Races
After stalling on the grid, Calderón was recovering lost positions strongly when she made unfortunate contact with another car and was penalised 10 seconds, dropping her to 16th at the finish. She improved to 13th in the Sprint Race after showing promising pace.
Vaxivière was looking to challenge for a strong points finish in the Feature Race, but was hit by another competitor and forced his retirement. The Frenchman improved from 18th on the grid to 15th on Sunday.
It was a difficult Feature Race for Baptista, who retired after an incident. He improved from the back row in the Sprint event to finish 16th.
Tatiana Calderón: “Unfortunately, I made a mistake on the start in the Feature Race and had some early contact. The pace was still good and in the Sprint event I was able to have some good battles. We are improving and I’m looking forward to Monza.”
Matthieu Vaxivière: “I couldn’t capitalise on the positive start to the weekend in the Feature Race and had contact with another driver. This sent us backwards for Sunday, as we tried to fine tune the set-up and went a bit too far.”
Bruno Baptista: “I was hit by another driver on Saturday and was forced to retire. The Sprint Race started well and I made a few overtakes on the first lap, but I knocked my pit limiter after contact and lost time.”
François Sicard, Managing Director: “It was a good start, but the incidents in the Feature Race jeopardised the rest of the weekend. Even if you cannot see it in the results, all three drivers did a great job and continued to learn and progress with the car. Vaxiviere’s feedback was really useful. Calderon was excellent in qualifying and we hope that her hard work will be rewarded in the future. Baptista was unlucky this weekend, but he has been moving forwards at a fantastic rate since the beginning of the season, so we’re sure to be back stronger at Monza.”
Round six of the 2017 GP3 Series will take place at Monza, Italy (1-3 September).