Alfonso Celis Jr: “I’ll take my second place in the championship”


Alfonso Celis Jr left Silverstone second in the championship - Credit: Klaas Norg / Dutch Photo Agency

Alfonso Celis Jr left Silverstone second in the championship after a positive opening weekend of the World Series Formula V8 3.5 championship where he took a second place and a sixth across the two races.

The Fortec Motorsports driver was happier with his pace on Saturday, and after looking for a second podium finish on Sunday, he was left to almost crawl around the track before taking his mandatory pit stop after his car went into safety mode when he took avoiding action around a rival across the grass and got dust in his radiator.

“I think it was a pretty up and down [weekend], but I think I’ll take my second place in the championship,” said Celis Jr to The Checkered Flag.  “Overall I think, you can always say it could have been better. In the end its what it is.

“I’m very happy with Saturday’s race, but I didn’t really want to analyse it much because I knew today I had some job to do. I knew I had to fix the starts, as that was a big concern. 

“But once I got to the grid, we were able to pull off an amazing start.  It was a record-breaking start [for me], I overtook a lot of cars, and I took it quite carefully the first laps, building up to it.

“I didn’t want to have any incidents, and then a car went off in turn one.  He came across quite recklessly, and with the dust coming off, then I suddenly found him very close, 120km/h slower than me, so my only choice to not break the tub and end up in the grandstand was to go off the track. 

“This put dust in my radiator and that was on lap four.  Unfortunately I had to do one and a half with the safety mode, which is very slow because the engine was very hot.  It was a shame to have to do two-minute laps but we came to the pits.”

Once he managed to reach lap six, Celis Jr was able to make his mandatory pit stop, and once with fresh tyres and a cleaned-out radiator, he was able to push again. He was able to recover some of the lost ground when the safety car was deployed, and then was able to get ahead of team-mate Diego Menchaca for sixth.

“The guys did an awesome job changing the rears, clearing my radiators,” said Celis Jr. “But then we had to push again. I managed to overtake my team-mate and go as forward as much as we could, staying on the track with no mistakes.

“I think we had no mistakes at all, it’s just a shame and it’s painful that I was not able to be on the podium today because I think I deserved it, and we had to the pace to do so.  But I’ll stick with P2 in the championship, and we’ll go from here to Spa.

“The car is very good, we didn’t nail the tyre pressures but the car was one of the quickest, I think the hardest part was having to compete with my team-mate, he’s got the same car as I do. I couldn’t use its strong points [against him] and I really had to study him and be patient in order to get him, and that took me some time as well.”

Celis is hopeful of getting back into the Sahara Force India F1 Team seat sooner rather than later, potentially this week in the post-Bahrain Grand Prix test, although his commitments in World Series Formula V8 3.5 mean he will have limited opportunities later in the year to run in a free practice session.

“I think I’ll be driving pretty soon,” said Celis Jr.  “I might a run in one of the days in Bahrain this week, looking forward to that.”