Dan Wells endured a tough start to his 2011 Formula Renault 2.0 UK season with a tricky debut weekend at Brands Hatch. Wells progress throughout the weekend was hampered by a problem with the car, stopping him from challenging at the front of the field.
Throughout pre-season testing and over the Brands weekend, his Antel Motorsport team have been struggling with a speed problem on the car, which has seen them much slower than their rivals in the speed traps, an issue stopping Wells from being truly competitive. Despite working with Renault and changing many things on the car, the team have struggled to resolve the problem.
Dan explains: “We've taken wing off, put wing on and changed things in the cars set up fundamentally, to try and just get the straight line speed. The car's handling OK, I'm pushing it hard and its giving me the right signals but we're still three miles per hour down in the speed traps. Whatever we change we gain maybe one, two clicks, that's it. Renault aren't sure what it is either.”
The problem meant Salisbury-based Wells was only able to set the thirteenth fastest time in each of the weekend's two qualifying sessions, seeing him line up for both the weekend's races on the back row of the grid.
Race one saw the 19-year-old make a great start and gain a few places in the opening few corners. However his hard work was undone with a spin at Graham Hill Bend, seeing him drop to the back of the pack, eventually finishing thirteenth.
Commenting on the race, he said: “Race one was pretty interesting to be honest. The start was very good and I passed two cars into the first corner. I was then under Serralles gearbox coming across the line and pushing hard.
“On lap two I span at Graham Hill and I stalled the car unfortunately, so it took a few seconds to get the car restarted and from then on the race was practically just a test session. It was quite an interesting first couple of laps, a shame I didn't hold it together, but it was enjoyable all the same.”
Race two saw Wells capitalise from mistakes by rivals to gain a couple of places over the course of the race, finishing the race eleventh overall.
Reflecting on that race, he said: “The pull away wasn't great, but I didn't lose any ground. I was on the back of Serralles going into Surtees once more and was pushing as hard as I could.
“Powell went off so got I passed her and I almost got past Serralles when he had to take evasive action. But from that point we were just being dropped by half a second a lap, which comes down to the straight-line issue and I can't make up the deficit in the corners.”
Wells heads to the next two rounds at Donington Park on April 16/17 believing that if the problem is resolved, he can look for a weekend running towards the front of the field.
Wells added: “I'm driving the best I've ever driven. I did the Renault Winter Series last year and came away from the first weekend best of the Renault rookies and I've improved massively since then.
“Should we sort our issues, I'm convinced we'll be able to mix it in the top six and with my starts I'll be confident of doing that.”