First podium for Ferrucci in action-packed weekend at Spa
DAMS driver Santino Ferrucci scored his first GP3 podium after finishing an excellent third in the second of two races at the challenging Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium (August 26-28).
The Haas F1 Team development driver began Race Two from second on the partially reversed grid – his first time on the front row. After stalling at the start, he finished a fighting seventh in Saturday’s 17-lap Race One.
Ferrucci also rode the kerbs heavily during that race, which unfortunately damaged his tub. Ferrucci repaid DAMS handsomely though, running as high as second in Sunday’s incident-packed Race Two before eventually losing out on cold tyres after the third Safety Car periods and settling for third place.
Two of those Safety Cars were unfortunately for DAMS drivers Jake Hughes and Kevin Joerg.
Having claimed his maiden GP3 win in Germany before the summer break, Hughes had looked set for another tremendous weekend. Fastest in practice he only just missed out on his first GP3 pole position since the season-opener at Barcelona in May. But after starting second in Race One, it all went wrong when he was eliminated in a first corner incident. His luck didn’t improve in Sunday’s race, when he crashed out at Les Combes.
Team-mate Joerg also began the weekend with high hopes after qualifying fifth. But with accidents and chaos ahead at the start of Race One, the Swiss driver was forced to replace a damaged front wing. Undeterred he looked after his tyres well and fought his way back to 11th. In Race Two Kevin was taken out of the race at Les Combes while running ninth.
The next round takes place at Monza in support of the Italian Grand Prix on September 2-4.
Santino Ferrucci, P7/P3: “I was quite happy to qualify P9 – it was our best session of the year! For some reason we had a stall at the start of Race One. We went from last at Turn One up to P6, but unfortunately I was fighting a bit too hard battling for P5 and ended up P7. The mechanics had to replace the tub and I have to thank them and the entire team for staying up all night to make the car ready. In Race Two we struggled a little bit with the Safety Cars and unfortunately I couldn’t really keep the tyres up to temperature correctly, which is why I dropped from P2 to P3. But it’s our first podium of the year. I’m happy with the team and the car and everyone did a really good job.”
Kevin Joerg, P11/DNF: “Another disappointing weekend, but there were still some positives to draw from it. My pace in free practice and qualifying was really good. We made a huge step forward in understanding the tyres. We are just missing a little bit of luck. I qualified P5 but in the first race I was squeezed at La Source and ended up having to change my front wing. That dropped me back to last, but I managed to get back to P11. The Sprint event started quite well, I was up to P9 but after the second Safety Car I was hit by another driver who tried to overtake me, and flew into the wall. I was really unlucky, but the overall pace was good, so I will try and keep that in mind for next weekend.”
Jakes Hughes, DNF/DNF: “The event started well. In practice we were quickest and the car felt good. We didn’t change much going into qualifying. We set P2 but with the downforce level we went with, if the poleman didn’t have our slipstream, he would have been slower than us in sectors one and three and it would have been possible for me to take the pole. Anyway the car was very good, so it seems like we made a step forward and hopefully that continues for the rest of the season. After that the weekend was a write-off. I had a first corner crash in Race One and then another accident after four laps in Race Two. It’s a shame, we’ve had six or seven non-scores this year. We know the pace is good, we just need clean weekends now.”
François Sicard, Managing Director: “This was a very good meeting in terms of performance. Unfortunately we did not convert it into race results. We started with great practice pace and confirmed it in qualifying with three cars in the top nine! Overall we are satisfied because we’ve been at the front in terms of pace, so the team and drivers have done a great job which confirms what we thought was coming for a while. We did not get the results we hoped for and feel we deserve, but it’s looking promising for the next races at Monza.”