On Thursday, Gabriel Aubry used his experience of the circuit to set the seventh-quickest time in the single free practice session. His team-mates were dialling themselves in on their first outing on the famous track until the session was stopped before the end. Thomas Neubauer finished just shy of the top 10 not far in front of Max Fewtrell and Thomas Maxwell.
Qualifying on Friday decided the grids for the weekend’s two races. Fewtrell was the only member of the team in Group A and could do no better than a place on the ninth row. Lady Luck didn’t smile on his team-mates either with the intervention of the virtual safety car just at the decisive moment when they were bringing their tyres up to the right working temperature. Aubry was fourth quickest while Maxwell broke into the top 10, which wasn’t the case for Neubauer.
The Tech 1 Racing drivers fought hard to try and find openings on a track reputed for its processional races. Aubry managed to move up a place and finished seventh on Saturday. Fewtrell did everything he could but failed to make it into the top 10, the first time he hasn’t scored points this season. Maxwell had to pit to have his front wing changed and continued to accumulate experience. Neubauer had to retire after being caught out under braking following a superb pass just before the Rascasse.
The next day Aubry again bagged the points that went with seventh place. Further back in the pack Fewtrell and Maxwell pulled back five places, but left Monaco empty handed. Neubauer again drove an aggressive race before clipping the guardrail at Saint-Devote and retiring despite making more progress.
In the overall classification Aubry and Fewtrell are still in contact with the top five while Tech 1 Racing has slipped back to third in the teams’ ratings.
“It was a very frustrating weekend,” said Sarah Abadie, the Tech 1 Racing team manager. “It was beautifully sunny and conditions remained stable throughout the meeting. We came here with high hopes but nothing turned out as we wanted.
“Thomas Neubauer showed that he has the speed but he wasn’t able to string it all together on Friday. The format of the single qualifying session which is unique to Monaco forced him to go out behind much slower drivers on this layout. While his daring overtaking attempts in the races led to his retirement, overall it was positive. Thomas knows that he can do the job and we’ll help him to improve both in terms of his confidence and his consistency over a weekend. In parallel, Gaby was extremely consistent. Even if we expected better, in particular after encouraging practice times, his two points-scoring finishes limited the damage. Unfortunately, he lacked a little speed in qualifying and he was the first to admit he was frustrated with the weekend.
“Thomas Maxwell overdid it in both races by damaging his wing twice in Fairmont. He too was very frustrated with his performance. We have to intensify our efforts to help him to progress consistently over a meeting as a whole. This way he’ll be a regular points scorer. In Monaco drivers mustn’t be afraid to go for it as they have to get to grips with the track in practice, find the limits and brush the walls otherwise they’ll be left behind. This also hindered Max Fewtrell who messed a bit his practice session after a couple of promising weekends. He then lacked confidence for the rest of the weekend hence an unspectacular performance on a track which the debutants had only one session to learn. While he managed to make up some lost ground on Sunday, he never made the most of the circuit for the first time this season.
“It wasn’t easy to string together three meetings on the trot, but it was the same for everybody,” summed Sarah Abadie. “When we think about our success on city circuits and our victory here last year, the whole team and the drivers are feeling frustrated and disappointed. This event has slowed the positive momentum built up after Silverstone and Pau, but we’ll soon be doing some testing at the Red Bull Ring before Monza on 24-25 June for the Formula Renault NEC. After a pretty intense May our drivers can get on with the job without being under pressure. We’ll work hard with the aim of helping them to enjoy themselves and build up their confidence. From our point of view we’ll be able to judge the progress of our debutants on a circuit on which they’ve already raced in the Eurocup. This will give them the ideal opportunity to tackle Budapest (29 June-2 July) in the best possible conditions and transform their potential into results.”
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