After a month-long break, the Formula Renault Eurocup returned to action at the Hungaroring. On Thursday, Tech 1 Racing looked in solid form during testing, with Max Fewtrell setting the third fastest time and Gabriel Aubry finishing in the top five in both sessions.
On Saturday, the excellent overall performance of the Toulouse-based outfit in qualifying was capped by Gabriel Aubry setting the second fastest time in Q1 before clocking both fastest laps of his group in Q2. Thomas Maxwell set the third fastest lap in Q1 and Max Fewtrell finished in the top five in Q2. Meanwhile, Thomas Neubauer also underlined the progress being made by Simon Abadie's team as he recorded his best qualifying performance of the year so far.
In the afternoon, Gabriel Aubry just missed out on a podium spot when he was caught out by a safety car period. On course to finish in the points, Thomas Maxwell lost out big time at the restart when he clashed with two of his rivals and had to retire. Having started from the back of the grid after being caught out by the damp track in the morning, Max Fewtrell produced a superb comeback to finish thirteenth, four places ahead of Thomas Neubauer.
On Sunday, Gabriel Aubry and Tech 1 Racing bounced back. Starting on the front row with used tyres unlike his rivals, the Frenchmen led into the first corner before moving clear and going on to win his first race in the category by more than five seconds, the second largest winning margin since the start of the season. Seventh on the starting grid, Max Fewtrell overtook another rookie mid-way through the race to take his fifth victory among the beginners. Meanwhile, Thomas Maxwell and Thomas Neubauer's chances of success were stymied when they were both given a ten-second penalty for driving outside of the track limits.
Since the starting grid for race 3 was based on the best times in Q2, Gabriel Aubry lined up in pole position. Aubry cleverly opted against challenging Fenestraz when he overtook him, since his rival had just been given a penalty for jumping the start. Meanwhile, Max Fewtrell gained a position, collecting two points in the process. Although he overtook eight drivers, Thomas Maxwell finished outside of the points, as did Thomas Neubauer.
In the overall standings, Gabriel Aubry and Tech 1 Racing had an excellent weekend in Hungary, making up a lot of points on their rivals. Although the team still lies third in the championship, Gabriel Aubry moved up to fourth place in the drivers' standings.
"It has been a very positive weekend," summarised Simon Abadie, Tech 1 Racing Team Manager. "Gabi has now won four of his last five races. It's exactly what he needed. He had the potential to claim all three poles and finish on the podium in all three races, but we're going to work on restarts in the team to make sure that doesn't happen again. His performance on Sunday was magnificent and intelligent, especially when he didn't labour the point with Sacha Fenestraz, letting him past before showing him that he was quicker once behind. It's an excellent weekend from him and he'll now need to do the same at the remaining rounds. Gabriel has what it takes; he's fast and he now knows that he can do it."
"Max made the mistake of his season in Q1. He hadn't really done a flying lap when he went off. It's a shame, because I think he had the potential to fight for the pole in the rain. In starting from the back of the grid, he had nothing to race for, but he made a superb comeback. In Q2, he was unable to complete a clear lap to make full use of the tyres, when second place was within his reach. We are going to redouble our efforts with Max so that he manages to make full use of his potential, which should see him secure podiums."
"For Thomas Maxwell, the results were mixed. His performance in Q1 was solid, but he got a bit carried away at the restart and the penalties that ensued compromised his chances in Sunday's races. In Q2, he was also on course for a good result because he was in fourth place until a rear suspension wishbone broke on his third lap. From that point onwards, the end of the weekend became difficult. Thomas shouldn't get too disheartened, however. He has to keep looking for performance gains wherever he can to turn his good form into results."
"Finally, Thomas Neubauer continues to make big strides. Although it may not be especially obvious as yet, he had his best qualifying performance of the year so far and he is starting to be well placed on many of the tracks. His performance in Q1 might have shown his progress had it not been for the red flag because up to that point, he was just behind the frontrunners. In the dry, we had to put on a second set of boots to get the most out of the tyres. His weekend was compromised by a few penalties, but overall he is making progress. We'll get there – and up the standings – together."
"I'm fairly pleased with the first half of the year with four pole positions and four race wins for Gabi," concluded Simon Abadie. "We are especially quick in qualifying since Gabriel has the second best record with four group poles, not forgetting Max has finished first among the rookies the most often as well. That gives me confidence for the rest of the season. We showed this weekend that our package was the quickest. Clearly, we're a little behind in the standings, but we'll fight right to the end. The drivers and the team now have to maintain this level of performance, but one thing is for sure, we're not going to make life easy for our rivals!"
The next competitive outing for Tech 1 Racing will be at the Nürburgring (14-16 July) for the sixth meeting of the season in the 2017 Formula Renault Eurocup.
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