In Spain, the Toulouse outfit’s aim was to finish on a high note with the two drivers spearheading its attack, Gabriel Aubry and Max Fewtrell. From Friday onwards the two were on the pace as the Frenchman set the third-quickest time just in front of the Brit. Thomas Neubauer and Thomas Maxwell both tried to progress despite a defective sensor that forced the French driver to miss the first session.
Aubry and Fewtrell continued the momentum in qualifying as they both finished in the top 5. While the Frenchman made a great start in the first heat and clinched another top-3 finish, the Renault Sport Academy driver posted his first retirement of the year because of a puncture following a collision. Neubauer had a fuel pump problem and had to retire, while Maxwell gained nine places and finished just shy of the points.
But luck wasn’t on their side the next day. Aubry tagged Max Defourny when they were battling for third place and the incident triggered a chain reaction that eliminated Maxwell and Neubauer, while Aubry was punted off further round the circuit. Fewtrell was the team’s only survivor of the carnage and he saw the flag in fourth spot. In the afternoon, Aubry gained a position and ended his season with a sixth-place finish. Behind, Fewtrell sealed the rookie title. Maxwell pulled off another of his spectacular comebacks and came home just outside the points. Neubauer got bogged down in the mid-field despite a solid race.
“It was a bit of a disappointing weekend for the team,” summed up Sarah Abadie, the Tech 1 Racing team manager. “Barcelona is a circuit we like so we had high hopes. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out as we expected, and we failed to make the most of qualifying. After that the races were a bit chaotic, particularly the second one in which three of our cars were eliminated on the first lap.
“This meeting was almost like a mirror image of the year for Gabriel who lost big points in collisions for which he wasn’t responsible on several occasions. It’s pretty annoying, but a season always has its share of ups and downs. We mustn’t forget that we’ve come a long way with him. Even if Gabriel suffered from getting tangled up in his rivals’ mistakes, he’s turned into a confident, reliable driver able to achieve the ambitious aims he’s set himself.
“Thomas Neubauer was unlucky as he had a sensor problem that made him miss the first practice session. Taking into account the tyre degradation on this circuit this lack of track time put him on the back foot from Friday onwards. He could’ve had better qualifying sessions, but he was unable to put together all the skills he’s shown since the start of the year. We hope that his efforts will bear fruit and we’re the first to be disappointed for him.
“Where our English-speaking drivers are concerned, we were hoping to do a bit better with Max although he again demonstrated his reliability behind the wheel as he was always among the quickest of the rookies. On Sunday morning he managed to avoid the chaos unfolding in front of him and scored points for us underlining his consistency all season. Thomas Maxwell ended the year empty-handed despite his great comebacks. He must do better in qualifying to make the most of his talent in the future.”
Tech 1 Racing finished third in the general classification, the team’s seventh top-5 placing in the championship in eight seasons. Among the drivers Aubry finished fifth while Fewtrell won the Rookie title. The Toulouse-based outfit is already looking to the 2018 season after taking part in the traditional rookie tests on Tuesday. These will be followed by a programme of intensive preparation during the winter.
“Nonetheless, we’re satisfied with our season,” summed up Sarah. “We finished third in the championship with just one driver back for the second year. At the beginning of 2017 many people openly laughed at us when we said we’d be gunning for a top-three finish overall with Gabriel Aubry, but we always believed in him as he’s a hard worker who demands a lot from himself. We knew it would pay off with effort. In parallel, we achieved our aims with Max’s Rookie title. It again underlines the work the team does with young drivers and the progress we help them to achieve!”
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