Less than a week after its encouraging outing at the Nürburgring, Tech 1 Racing headed for Hockenheim for the second German rendezvous on the calendar.
After productive practice sessions marked by Alexander Smolyar’s presence in the top 5, Neil Verhagen took over from the Russian as the team’s spearhead in qualifying. Although the American was third in his group he started in seventh place after being hit with a penalty imposed the previous weekend. He made a good getaway and was battling for a place on the podium before finishing seventh in front of Smolyar who was in 14th position on the grid. Frank Bird and Thomas Neubauer were both in to the top 10 after great starts but failed to score points.
The next day Verhagen did even better. The Red Bull driver was fourth on the grid and drove an attacking race, but could only manage sixth place in what was a pretty chaotic heat that put paid to the hopes of Smolyar and Neubauer early on. Bird drove a great race pulling back nine places although the English driver finished outside the points.
In the overall classification Smolyar and Verhagen are both knocking at the door of the top 10 while Tech 1 Racing is lying sixth in the teams’ classification.
“We had a quick car as our four drivers were all in the top 10,” said Olivier Maernhout, the Tech 1 Racing team manager. “Neil was able to put the Nürburgring behind him after two good qualifying sessions. On Saturday his podium chances were dashed when he had to move off line to avoid a collision. Even if he found it increasingly difficult afterwards he battled on and scored good points. His pace wasn’t quite as fast in the second race. Above all, we hope this weekend will act as a spring board for him to finish on a high note in Barcelona.
“Alex didn’t manage to make the most of his potential and that of his car in qualifying. But he still slipped into the top 10 in the first few corners and he drove a solid race to score some more points. He could have done it again on Sunday, but he was unable to avoid two cars out of control in front of him and his own was too badly damaged to enable him to continue. We’re convinced he’ll bounce back by taking advantage of the slightest opportunity in Barcelona.
“Thomas was in a position to score points for the second weekend in succession. Even if he didn’t manage to get it all together in Q1 he broke into the top 10 thanks to a good start. Unfortunately, another driver ruined his efforts by tagging him in the final corner. Thomas didn’t surrender with a fine lap in Q2 and he couldn’t avoid another driver while he was battling with Alex and Lorenzo Colombo. We really hope that Thomas will be more successful at the next round and that he can finish on a high note.
“After his difficult weekend at the Nürburgring Frank was soon back in the groove by qualifying just outside the top 10. In the race he was caught out by his tyres’ degradation and a small mistake that cost him dearly. On Sunday he fought back with a solid performance avoiding all the traps on the circuit. All he needed were a few more laps to get into the points, but he should be able to achieve this in Barcelona.”
In four weeks the final of the Formula Renault Eurocup will be held on the Barcelona–Catalonia circuit (19-21 October).
“We’re feeling a bit disappointed as we weren’t able to transform our potential because of reasons that particular to motor sport,” summed up Olivier Maernhout. “After what’s been a pretty intense September we’re going back to Toulouse to prepare for the last round of the year. We’re absolutely determined to finish the Formula Renault Eurocup era, which has given us so much, on a high note!”
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