Arden International came into the Spanish GP2 Series weekend on the back foot with the news that Andre Negrao was injured and would not be able to participate. The team called-up Tom Dillmann as his replacement, and the Frenchman took the team’s first podium finish of the season in the sprint race on Sunday. Team-mate Rene Binder also showed flashes of speed during the weekend, but left the Circuit de Catalunya having failed to score points in either race.
Binder had a disappointing weekend in the end, starting with qualifying down in a lowly 18th position. Starting on the harder tyre, he had worked his way up to seventh by the chequered flag but a penalty for failing to slow sufficiently for yellow flags relegated him out of the points to 15th.
“Qualifying was not how we wanted it,” said Binder. “To finish the session p18 was a little disappointing. I had a good start in the first race. I managed to overtake some people and I was p9 after the first lap. The race pace was good and the car felt good. I finished seventh, even with a damaged front wing so the result was good. However, I was given a 20second penalty having been too fast under yellows in the last sector after pit stop on my fresh tyres.”
A good start on Sunday saw him gain four positions early on, but contact with cars around him affected his steering and the Austrian was an early retirement.
“The second race start was good too. Starting from fifteenth I moved up to eleventh then had some contact with the cars around me. Unfortunately, this really damaged my steering, it wasn’t straight at all so I had to come to the pits and stop. If I had been able to keep my p7 finish on Saturday and start on the front row on Sunday, I would have been happy and I think I could’ve finished on the podium. It’s a shame but I look forward to Monaco now.”
Frenchman Dillmann was not expecting to race in Spain. When regular Arden driver Negrao withdrew due to a back injury, it was the former Russian Time driver who got the call, and he did not disappoint. During the feature race, he started on the harder tyre and was keeping up with eventual race-winner Johnny Cecotto Jr when his engine cover worked loose. During his mandatory pit stop, he was forced to wait for the cover to be reattached, losing him valuable time and meaning he eventually finished ninth. This became eighth and reverse grid pole after Binder’s penalty.
“It was quite unexpected when I found out on Wednesday I was going to race this weekend, but I was happy,” said Dillmann. “It was a challenge to set up the car quickly but we had a solid Qualifying for our first time together. Race one went well, we had great pace and the car felt really good. I’m sure we could’ve been on the podium on Saturday.”
For the Sunday sprint race, Dillmann led away from pole, but lost out to both Felipe Nasr and Jolyon Palmer on track to finish third. But to finish on the podium when you did not even think you would be racing was a great achievement.
“The track conditions changed a lot for Race two, so it was a little tougher than Saturdays race but the car was good enough to be on the podium,” added Dillmann. “It was a successful weekend. Arden have showed they have a good car and I showed I deserved my place here in GP2.”