Off-Key Weekend for DAMS in Austria

Despite being one of the few teams with past experience of the Red Bull Ring due to their participation in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series who raced there in 2014, the DAMS GP2 team had a relatively quiet weekend by their high standards. GP2 Series Championship leader Jolyon Palmer finished in the points in both races in Austria, but team-mate Stephane Richelmi, winner of the Sprint race last time out in Monaco, failed to score a point all weekend.

Palmer looked to be on the pace again as he qualified second on the grid for the Feature race, missing out on pole position to Trident Racing’s Venezuelan racer Johnny Cecotto Jr by the tiniest margin of 0.040s. However in the race, he made a bad start and finished down in fifth at the flag, and lost places at the start again in the Sprint race on Sunday to finish fifth having started fourth. He did manage a good overtaking manoeuvre on Carlin’s Julian Leal to take fifth place a few laps from the end.

“Even if we weren’t beyond reproach in our two races I think that we could maybe have done a bit better this weekend,” said Palmer. “My problems at the start cost me dearly.

“I got boxed in at the start [in race two] and lost a lot of positions. Afterwards I wasn’t very quick in the opening few laps but then I managed to pull in the gap and pass Leal for sixth. I couldn’t do any more though as I got stuck behind Rossi and had to settle for sixth.

It’s been a disappointing weekend in terms of results considering where we started, but the pace was strong and there are definitely positives to take away. This being said I still have a good lead in the championship and I’m counting on increasing it at Silverstone. Stéphane won his home race so it’s up to me to do the same in England.”

Team-mate Richelmi had a disappointing follow-up weekend to his maiden series victory in Monaco, qualifying tenth and finishing the Feature race fourteenth after finding himself stuck behind the MP Motorsport machine of Cypriot Tio Ellinas for a long spell of the race. He made a few places up during the Sunday Sprint race but again fell short of the points in tenth.

“After the champagne in Monaco, a cold shower in Austria,” said Richelmi. “A weekend to forget. At the same time we’ll have to learn from it so as not to find ourselves in the same situation at Silverstone. There, I’ll have to get back into the top five on the grid and I know I can do it. This team is so strong that we’ll bounce back for sure.”

Managing Director Francois Sicard admitted the team were disappointed with their results in Austria having failed to see either driver score a podium for the first time in 2014.

“Obviously we’re disappointed,” said Sicard. “We were unable to find the right answers in Austria, in particular in terms of strategy in the first race. Despite that, we’re still in the lead in the two championships helped by the fact that our main rivals took points off one another. We have to get our title challenge back on the rails at Silverstone as our lead’s been cut, and also because we like the taste of the podium too much. After this low-key weekend, our motivation will be even stronger.”