The DAMS team saw both drivers score points in both races in Spain, but the ultimate prize of a race win eluded them, despite a front-row lock out in qualifying. Stephane Richelmi beat Jolyon Palmer to the pole position, but circumstances were not kind to the pole sitter, while Palmer was on course for the win on Saturday but was overtaken by the Trident Racing machine of Johnny Cecotto Jr who was on far better tyres.
Palmer consolidated his GP2 Championship leader however with a pair of podiums at the Circuit de Catalunya. The Briton finished second in both the Saturday feature and Sunday sprint race and sits on 70 points, 22 ahead of his closest challenger, Julian Leal of Carlin.
“It’s been another positive weekend for me and for the team, which again gave me a well-prepared car,” said Palmer. “Of course, I’d have preferred to win, but broken parts of the wing in the two heats caused tyre and brake wear. These two top-three finishes have helped me to open up a small gap and that’s always a good thing – above all before Monaco where anything can happen. But with the way things are panning out I’ll arrive there with my morale at an all-time high!”
For team-mate Richelmi however, a pole position (and the four points that goes with it) in the feature race after a brilliant effort in qualifying went to waste when he stalled on the grid before the race, resulting in the Monegasque driver being forced to start from the pit lane and at the back of the field. An aggressive strategy managed to bring him back up to eleventh at the flag, which became tenth and a point when the Arden International machine of Rene Binder was penalised ahead of him. He would score two more points on Sunday when finishing seventh.
“Obviously I feel frustrated by the way the first race unfolded,” admitted a disgruntled Richelmi. “I was perturbed by the first start, which was aborted at the last moment, and then the car stalled on the restart. But I’ll remember the joy of my pole position in front of my team-mate, which was a reward for me as for the whole outfit. I was also able to push hard and drive two good heats, and that will give me a boost for my home race in two weeks.”
The Managing Director of DAMS, Francois Sicard, praised the efforts of both drivers, commenting on Palmer’s four podiums in four races, while bemoaning Richelmi’s bad luck despite showing that the speed is there.
“The team again did a great job rewarded by the front row lockout,” said Sicard. “We feel a bit disappointed for Stéphane who was caught out by an aborted start procedure. Overall, it’s been a good weekend. With four top-three finishes in four races Jolyon has showed that he’s a serious title contender this year. Stéphane has confirmed his searing pace. We just hope that lady luck will come back and then he’ll be battling for victory too.”