The Arden Motorsport drivers endured a contrasting weekend at Motorland Aragon, with Pierre Gasly claiming his second Formula Renault 3.5 Series podium of the season on Sunday after finishing ninth on Saturday, but Will Buller retired both days are being the victim of accidents.
Despite a good start, Gasly dropped to tenth after running wide at the first corner, but passed International Draco Racing driver Pietro Fantin for ninth despite some minor front wing damage. He was unable to get passed Fortec Motorsport’s Russian driver Sergey Sirotkin for eighth however, finishing on the Sauber F1 test driver’s tail.
“The start of Race 1 was OK, I was up to P5 but then tried to brake late into the first corner, locked up a bit and lost four places,” said Gasly. “That left me with a lot of work to do, I got past one guy and was then pushing for P8. I was having quite a battle to get past Sergey Sirotkin. I got some front wing damage and of course that didn’t help so I ended up P9 which I was a bit disappointed with.”
Gasly had a fighting drive on Sunday that saw him overtake Strakka Racing’s Will Stevens on the final lap to promote himself from third to second. He had already dispatched fellow Red Bull backed Carlos Sainz when the Spaniard made a small error at the hairpin at the end of the long back straight.
“In Sunday’s qualifying we managed P3 so I was much happier with that but I still missed a bit. In the race I didn’t get away so well and lost a place. Doing pit stops is new to me but the guys did a fantastic job and we managed to overtake Pietro Fantin. I was still behind Will Stevens, when I tried to overtake him it didn’t work and Carlos Sainz overtook me.
“I knew that from this point I had to save my tyres a bit and wait and hope that Sainz made a little mistake. I could see he was frustrated by Stevens and I had to make sure that I was in the right place if something happened.
“There was a mistake, just one but I was just in the right place and went directly inside, the only possibility and got past. I was then right with Stevens and chased him all the way, passing him right at the last corner. It was a great race, a very busy race with lots of passing and that is why I like being a racer.”
Team-mate Buller had a disappointing weekend that began so promisingly after topping the second practice session on Friday. He was held up by traffic in both qualifying sessions that left him in the midfield, and thus was in the wrong place at the wrong time that saw him retire in both races after contact with other drivers. In race one it was a collision with fellow Brit Oliver Webb of Pons Racing, while on Sunday it was with Lotus driver Marlon Stockinger.
“It was a disappointing weekend, after a ‘DNF’ in Monza Race 2 I was feeling motivated and hungry for a solid weekend,” said Buller. “Practice went well, finishing third in session one and topping the times in the second session. The car felt good from the outset.
“Both qualifying sessions didn’t turn out as good as they could have. Session one and two I ran top 2 on the first set of tyres, on the second set I was impeded and blocked on my best laps not allowing me to improve my lap times. It was very frustrating as I feel I could’ve been ahead of my team-mate in both races.
“In Race 1 after a good start, unfortunately I was hit on my left rear at the first turn, causing a puncture and I was forced to retire. For Race 2 I was starting in the middle of the pack, we have a good race getting ourselves into the top eight. The pit stop went well and the speed was there for a top six finish. As Marlon Stockinger came out of the pits on colder tyres I was able to get passed. He made a mistake going into turn 7 locking up and crashing into the back of me causing suspension damage forcing me to retire again.
“It was a difficult weekend, but all the team did a good job and a nice environment to work in. On my side it was frustrating as I feel I could have finished ahead of my team mate and got some solid points on the board. Hopefully Lady Luck will show her face for Monaco.”
Gasly sits third in the championship on 45 points, four points behind second placed Oliver Rowland and seventeen behind championship leader Sainz. Buller is eleventh on twelve points, and will be hoping to stop his run of three consecutive retirements when Formula Renault 3.5 resumes in Monaco at the end of May.