Simon Abadie and his men launched their 2017 campaign in Italy. In morning practice the team confirmed its winter promise with Gabriel Aubry setting the second-quickest time and a top-10 position for Max Fewtrell. A bit further back Thomas Maxwell and Thomas Neubauer put on promising performances before tackling qualifying.
On Saturday, Aubry upped the pace setting the benchmark time in his group giving him a place on the front row. In a race that was interrupted by two safety car deployments and a red flag he tried to find an opening on the leader, but without success. He lost a place and then focused on ensuring his first top-3 finish in the category. Fewtrell, who was the best rookie in his group, showed great determination and clinched victory among the debutants scoring his first points of the season, which was not the case for Maxwell and Neubauer despite their best efforts.
On Sunday, Aubry repeated his pole position. Unfortunately, he was unable to hold onto the lead under braking for the first corner, but he was still in the mix before being hit by another car at the end of the race. Maxwell made a big step forward clinching a place on the second row. He was in first place in the rookie category until he was caught out on the last lap and had to make do with a top-5 finish: Fewtrell and Neubauer pulled back 7 and 11 places respectively. The British driver added four more points to his tally while his team-mate saw the flag just shy of the top 10.
After the first round Aubry is the best placed of the team’s drivers in fifth place in the championship. In the teams’ rating Tech 1 Racing is lying third.
“With two poles in the group it was a good weekend for Gabriel in terms of performance,” said Simon Abadie, the Tech 1 Racing Team Manager. “While he could have aimed a bit higher on Saturday he turned his group pole into a podium finish despite the traps represented by slip-streaming at Monza. On Sunday, he lost a place was then harpooned by another driver who, surprisingly, was not penalised! It’s infuriating as we should have come away with at least 33 points, and we had to be content with 15. But our speed is a reason to be satisfied as it confirms our winter tests. It’s up to Gabi to be a bit tougher in the races.
“Max quickly achieved his objectives setting a good fourth-quickest time in his first qualifying session. He managed to pass two cars on the final lap of the race but the red flag froze the result. Although he had the potential to aim for the top three in his group in Q2 a few small mistakes cost him dearly. He made up for this in the race with another points-scoring finish. He’s got great potential and I think that he’ll be able to fight in the top 5 at Silverstone.
“Thomas Maxwell scored good points with encouraging performances. While he didn’t manage to get the tyres up to the right working temperature in qualifying 1, he gained precious experience by finished a tricky first race in the mid-field. He did the job in Q2 setting the second-best time in his group, half-a-second off pole. Despite a good start which gave him third place he was tagged by the wheel of another car, an action that again went unpunished, and this dropped him down the time sheets. But he fought back up to fifth even if we could have hoped for better.
“Finally, Thomas Neubauer showed that he’s a quick learner. Despite difficult qualifications and a race in which he learned about slipstreaming and suddenly losing front end grip, he didn’t make the same mistakes as the previous day and showed his potential by finishing just outside the points. Thomas learns quickly and it’s up to us to help him put things in place by progressing step by step.
“In spite of a few frustrating moments the team and the drivers did a good job in terms of performance,” summed up Abadie. “Nobody was expecting us to be at this level, all the more so as we’re starting the season with three debutants. The most important thing for our three youngsters was to gain experience and learn the ropes. Whatever happens our rivals have been warned that we’re going to make life difficult for them throughout the year!”
The next round of the Formula Renault Eurocup will take place at Silverstone on 11-14 May.
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