A much better day for Racing Engineering in the Bahrain Sprint Race.

A much better day for Racing Engineering in the Bahrain Sprint Race.

16.04.2017: It was hot once again for the third day in succession at the Sakhir Circuit, Bahrain for today’s Sprint Race at the opening round

It was hot once again for the third day in succession at the Sakhir Circuit, Bahrain for today’s Sprint Race at the opening round of the 2017 FIA F2 Championship with air and track temperatures of 27° and 43° degrees respectively for the twenty-three lap race.





Following yesterday’s difficult Feature Race where the two Racing Engineering drivers, Gustav Malja and Louis Delétraz, had finished in 18th and 20th positions meant both men would have to fight hard to get into the points.



 For today both cars were fitted with the Pirelli P Zero White medium compound tyre and tyre degradation would be a potential problem especially with a strong wind blowing sand across the track surface.



Louis and Gustav were given a small boost when pole-sitter Matsushita had to start from the pit lane so they were promoted to 17th and 19th.



 As the lights went off Louis made a good start moving up to 18th and he drove a great opening lap to pass three more cars, additionally gaining two more places as Nato left the track and Sette Camara pitted leaving him in an excellent 13th spot at the end of lap one as the Safety Car was deployed following the Nato incident.



Racing resumed on lap three and Louis was chasing de Vries who was just 0.3 seconds ahead. On lap six the Racing Engineering car lost a place to Matsushita but he was still pushing hard as Gelael was right behind him and all the cars were still closely bunched after the Safety Car period.



On the seventh lap Louis was passed by Gelael but the Arden car had to pit for fresh tyres as did several other cars so the young Swiss was now in 12th on lap ten. By lap twelve the Racing Engineering driver was 0.5 seconds behind Canamasas and 4.1 ahead of Jeffri but the cars that had stopped for new tyres were running several seconds a lap quicker than the non-stoppers.


On lap 13 Louis passed Canamasas but the very experienced Trident driver regained the place on the following lap but Louis was not giving up and was soon looking for another opportunity to move ahead again.



 Lap twenty saw Louis passed by Markelov on fresher tyres but he regained 12th position as he passed Coletti with two laps to go and he was able to keep the position to the chequered flag.



Gustav was also cleanly away, gaining a place from Gelael and gaining two more places from the problems to Nato and Sette Camara to finish the first lap in 15th. On lap three Gustav was 0.5 seconds behind Matsushita and had a similar lead over Jeffri and the positions now remained unchanged for several laps.



By lap eleven, approaching half distance, Gustav was in 14th place but he was now being chased by several cars who had pitted for new tyres. The young Swede continued in 14th but, by lap seventeen, the cars that had pitted were closing in quickly but Gustav was able to keep lapping quickly on his worn tyres and on the final lap he overtook Coletti to take 13th at the finish.



After the disappointment of yesterday’s race, today was much more positive for both the Racing Engineering drivers as they lapped competitively in difficult conditions and showed they can look forward to the next races with confidence. Round two of the 2017 FIA F2 Championship will be on the 12th to the 14th of May in Barcelona.

  


Sebastien Viger, Technical Director:



"It was a good start, especially for Louis, in this race and then it was mainly about tyre degradation, he was slightly quicker than the cars in front of him and managed to get back and knock on the door of the top 10.



We knew it would not be easy to finish in the points. Like Prema, we were studying the possibility of make a pit stop, but the time difference would not have made it work for us and we decided to stay on track and play the long game.



 Gustav had a similar race to Louis, but had a slower pace during the opening lap and took too long to overtake other cars. He had better tyres towards the end, but was too far back to take advantage of them.





Overall a very disappointing weekend for us. There is a lot of work to do for us and the drivers to get back where! we belong, which means at the top of the time sheets in Barcelona.”
 


Louis Delétraz:



"After the mistake from yesterday I started last, which was obviously a shame as it cost us the race. The objective was to take no risks and bring the car home and gain some experience.



 I had a good start and a good first lap, moving up to P13, I think. I immediately tried to save my tyres as much as I could knowing that at the end of the race would be difficult but it didn’t work out. We had quite a bit of rear degradation and I could not, as planned, attack towards the end.


I then stayed in P12 unable to catch up anymore, losing the rears completely. Now I am really looking forward to Barcelona as this was not the weekend I hoped for. I want more and I am sure Barcelona will suit us better.”
 



Gustav Malja:


"My getaway was OK from the grid. During the first corners of the opening lap I found myself in wrong places a bit and lost some positions, so I had to stay behind some slow drivers and slow cars, which was not ideal for my race.



I could not get by easily as I had some understeer, already locking up on lap 1. I managed my rear tyres quite well, taking care of them a lot and was able to pass some cars in the end and finished P13.



I think without the front issue I could have taken more. All in all, this is a weekend to forget. Unfortunately, no points scored, so a really bad weekend for us and we will work really hard for Barcelona, because we really want to win, now it’s heads down and basically working for Barcelona.



 Thanks to the team for this weekend and now we will fight together to get back to where we belong.”

 
 

- Ines Koschutnig, photos FIA F2 Championship

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/racing-engineering-better-day-bahrain-sprint-race---163498.html

16.04.2017 / MaP

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