The Fortec Motorsports team had a frustrating weekend as the FIA European Formula 3 Championship arrived at Spa-Francorchamps. The chance of scoring a big haul of points disappeared when it was clear the straight-line speed of both John Bryant-Meisner and Mitchell Gilbert was not enough to compete with those up front.
Bryant-Meisner had a good qualifying session that decided the grids for races two and three. The Swede managed the wet conditions well to qualify fourth for race two and second for race three, having qualified only twentieth for race one when conditions were dry. After moving up to fourteenth in race one, he struggled in the other two, going backwards in both. He finished last after a spin in race two, but retired in the pits with engine problems in the final race of the weekend after getting into the lead briefly at the start.
“It was a very frustrating weekend, I did everything I could but with the engine problems I just didn’t have the speed,” said Bryant-Meisner. “In a way I’m happy, as I did a good job in the circumstances and showed what I’m capable of, but that also makes it seem worse as we couldn’t make the most of it.
“We still don’t know what went wrong, hopefully it will get sorted by the next race. Everyone knows something is wrong, it couldn’t have been more obvious, but we just don’t know what it is yet. These things happen and I’m sure it will get fixed – the team did everything they could to try to help me, but it wasn’t to be.
“To qualify in second and fourth is where I want to be, so at least we know we can do it if given the proper opportunity. Really, I could have won that last race if things had gone my way, so that’s really pleasing to know.
“It was an up and down weekend really, hopefully there will be more of the up next time round.”
Team-mate Gilbert also suffered with engine problems, and crashed during the second qualifying session meaning he would start at the back for races two and three. The team decided to take a grid-drop penalty for a change of engine after qualifying, relegating the Australian to the back for race one also after having qualified fourteenth. In the races, he could only finish twentieth, twelfth and eighteenth, meaning the Fortec team left Belgium having failed to score a point all weekend with either driver.
“We are at a point where we have a good team, a good car and I’m driving well, but we are not able to show our ability,” said Gilbert. “The engine has been hampering us at different stages and on a track like Spa-Francorchamps, with long straights, it was very noticeable and even a change of engine didn’t help.
“Our best weekend came at Pau, where there aren’t any long straights, but as soon as there are long straights, the pace just isn’t there to compete. We are hoping things can be sorted by the next race, it’s just really disappointing right now.”
“We don’t really know what the problem is. It was confusing to have gone into the round so positive, but for this to happen. The speed test data showed the problems we were having and we just couldn’t get going again.
“It’s very frustrating for us all and it’s not helping me get to where I want to be and know I can be. We’re hoping a solution is found to help us move forward again.”