Patric Niederhauser took his second win of 2014 and his fourth GP3 Series victory overall in the second race at Sochi in thrilling style. The Swiss driver drove an exemplary last lap to withstand the pressure of first Marvin Kirchhofer and then Dean Stoneman.
The Arden International driver admitted it took some time to get acquainted with the car at the new Sochi circuit in free practice, but was happy to show good pace virtually straight away.
“Free Practice was quite good,” said Niederhauser. “It took me some time to get comfortable with car but I was still pretty quick from beginning, in the top five. We changed to new tyres then I came across some traffic and didn’t manage to put my lap together. So I finished eleventh, which I’m reasonably happy with.”
Qualifying on Saturday morning did not go completely to plan, with the Swiss driver looking to be higher up the grid than his eventually ninth place, which became eighth when Richie Stanaway was disqualified.
“In Qualifying I was p9,” said Niederhauser. “I wanted to be further up, but happy with my performance, so it was not too bad. I knew from this place we can move forward, go for points and reverse grid pole in Race two.”
One of the strengths of the Arden team in 2014 have been their starts, and Niederhauser made a good one to move up some positions into the first corner, but lost a few to return to eighth by the end of the lap.
“I made a really good start, made up some positions,” said Niederhauser. “Then I lost some into turn 8 when tried to overtake Kevin Ceccon, then lost a position to Jann [Mardenborough], then Alex Lynn overtook me on the straight. It was quite a crazy first few corners, we were four wide into turn 3! I tried to save my tyres and pushed the last two laps to try to close the gap to Lynn. I was really happy to be p8, to get points and pole for tomorrow. I wanted to fight for the win on Sunday.”
Another good start saw him lead from pole position into the first corner, and he held the lead comfortably until the introduction of the safety car with just a handful of laps to go, and then he was on the full defensive as both Kirchhofer and Stoneman made a challenge for the lead. The Swiss driver believes that this victory was his best so far in his career.
“My start was really good, I was able to maintain my leading position into turn 1,” stated Niederhauser. “The safety car came out, I had a moment on braking but everything was fine. It was hard to concentrate during the safety car period but I had a really good restart and able to maintain and extend my lead to Jann. Marvin Kirchhofer was really pushing him so I increased my pace.
“Up to the last safety car it has spiced it all up! I made a really good restart again but had lost some temperature in the tyres and Kirchhofer could push more. The last lap was one huge defending act from turn 1 onwards. I had a huge fight with Kirchhofer and with Dean Stoneman. I can’t describe with words how this felt. It was the best win ever. The last lap was incredible, really enjoyable as well. I will look back to those last few laps in 20yrs again.”