Belgian driver Stoffel Vandoorne stood on the podium after both races at Hockenheim, as the ART Grand Prix driver finally achieved a double points finish in 2014. For his Japanese team-mate Takuya Izawa it was another weekend of playing catch up, and finished both races well outside the points.
For the first time in 2014, Vandoorne managed to score points in both races. He was disappointed with the Feature race on Saturday as miscommunication with his team meant he did not challenge Mitch Evans of Russian Time for the win as he believed the New Zealander still have to make his mandatory pit stop, while on Sunday in the Sprint race, he was thwarted by the introduction of the safety car that enabled Stefano Coletti of Racing Engineering and Felipe Nasr of Carlin to close up on warmer tyres as he left the pits on cold tyres. By the time his tyres had warmed up, the race was already lost.
“I’m frustrated to finish P2 in the first race because a problem with the radio made me think Mitch still had to stop,” said Vandoorne. “I didn’t even try to attack him until we had two laps to go! And then it was too late. Before that, the pace was really good, tyre degradation was not as high as we could have feared with the heat, the first stint and the pit stop were nice and easy and we did everything right to get past Palmer and be P1. Had I known I had to attack Mitch, I would have been a lot quicker…
“At last I scored my first points on Sunday and that’s a good step forward. But I have the feeling we should have won. Starting on wet tyres was the right choice. We were fast and we overtook a lot of cars. But the safety car came out twice and that ruined our race. Still, coming out of the pits I was leading after the second neutralization but there was no way I could warm my tyres up behind the safety car. Coletti and Nasr had warmed tyres and they got past me. Once my tyres were warm enough, it was too late. Having said that, this is a very good weekend, let’s do it again in Hungary. I like the track and I’ve always done well there.”
For team-mate Izawa, Hockenheim was a difficult weekend. He arrived already with a grid penalty carried over from Silverstone, and was forced to battle it out in the midfield in both races. The Japanese driver felt he had made an improvement with his qualifying pace, but was disappointed with his performances when it mattered in the races.
“It was always going to be a serious challenge with the grid penalty I had in Silverstone,” said Izawa. “Nevertheless, I think I improved in qualifying and that’s the key to taking another step forward. On the other hand, my races were not as strong as others in the past and I had some moments, especially in the second race when I was that close to being hit by two drivers which forced me to go straight in the first turn.
“It was really interesting to manage the tyres with the heat and then with the rain and in changing conditions. I hope in Hungary I’ll put everything together and that we will have both a good qualifying and good races.”
Team Principal Frederic Vasseur paid compliment to his lead driver, and believed with a bit of luck, Vandoorne could have left Hockenheim with two wins. He bemoaned the introduction of the safety car that wrecked the Belgian’s opportunity in race two.
“Stoffel made a weekend almost perfect from the point of view of management and teamwork,” said Vasseur. “He should have won both races without any luck, especially in the second race when the safety car came out at the worst time for him. But I appreciated his composure and calmness in difficult and frustrating circumstances.
“With Takuya we again made it a fun race with determination and a remarkable drive that will be rewarded well when he starts from the first half of the grid.”