Right from the start of free practice Bird and Neubauer showed how much they had improved on the Italian circuit. The two drivers took full advantage of the two 30-minute sessions and both broke into the top 5 in turn.
On Saturday, Bird confirmed his promise by grabbing a place on the third row just in front of his team-mate. He made a great start, quickly joined the leading quintet and pulled off a superb overtaking move in the Parabolica on the last lap to clinch fourth place, his best result in Formula Renault so far. Although he was forced to go straight on in the second chicane Neubauer kept a cool head and saw the flag in seventh spot.
On Sunday, the Briton made another step forward in qualifying with third place in Q2. Frank was involved in the fight for the lead and victory looked within his grasp until a collision with a rival forced him to pit and he had to make do with eleventh position at the chequered flag. Neubauer started in fifth place on the grid where he finished despite a final push in the late stages of the race.
“The weekend was full of positives,” reckoned Simon Abadie, the Tech 1 Racing team manager. “Thomas made good progress throughout the sessions. Even if he didn’t make the most of Q1 before being caught out at the start of the first race he fought back the next day. He lacked a little speed, but remained in contact with the front-runners even if a few small mistakes cost him a few tenths. His times had nothing to envy those of the leaders so he now has to work on his consistency and then everything should go well for him in the second part of the season.
“Frank had a great weekend putting on stunning performances over the three days. In Q1 he wasn’t far off pole and he reduced the gap even further in Q2 as he was less than a tenth-of-a-second slower that the polesitter. He drove a great first race and made no mistakes even though he was fighting at the front for the first time. His performance on Sunday was in the same vein, but unfortunately he collided with Max Fewtrell. It’s a pity as he could have scored his first podium finish although that doesn’t detract from his superb weekend. His speed and consistency throughout the meeting reflect the huge improvement he’s made since the start of the year.
“Overall, it was our best weekend of the season so far,” summed up Abadie. “So it’s all looking good before our next races, but we mustn’t relax our efforts to turn this potential into concrete results in the Formula Renault Eurocup.”
At the end of the month Tech 1 Racing will be back at the Red Bull Ring (20-22 July) and Spa-Francorchamps (25-28 July) for the fifth and sixth rounds of the 2018 Formula Renault Eurocup.
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