Patric Niederhauser: “The Speed is There”

Arden International left the Red Bull Ring with Swiss driver Patric Niederhauser scoring the teams’ only points of a disappointing GP3 Series weekend. Romanian Robert Visoiu was eliminated in race one in somebody else’s accident, while Briton Jann Mardenborough, fresh off racing in the Le Mans 24 Hours, crashed out of race two on Sunday while running in the top six.

Niederhauser qualified sixteenth on Saturday morning ahead of race one, and moved up to twelfth by the end of the first lap. He made up two other places during the race to finish tenth and take the final point on offer. On Sunday during race two, he lost a place at the start but impressed to move up to sixth at the flag to take four more points home from Austria.

“Free practice was not bad, I finished p14 but I think the pace was better than we showed,” said Niederhauser. “We didn’t change too much for the Qualifying session, but I was too slow to close the gap to the front and finished p16. We need to work with the car and me as a driver for the qualifying session in future races.

“The races were good, we made a couple of changes, which were positive, and we were amongst the fastest on track and I managed to score some points. The start to race 2 was good; I made a mistake on the first lap and lost places but later managed to overtake 3 cars. The speed is there, so it’s a positive ending. Now we need to focus on Qualifying, if we start top 6 everything is possible.”

Visoiu qualified seventeenth, but crashed out when unable to avoid the crashed Marussia Manor Racing car of Dean Stoneman that had already collided with ART Grand Prix’s Alex Fontana. Starting near the back in race two, he was always likely to struggle, but he made some places up to finish fourteenth at the flag.

“Free practice was good, we had good pace and we thought there was a little more to come so we optimistic for Qualifying having finished practice p8,” said Visoiu. “However, I didn’t manage to put a lap together in qualifying which duped our chances of a good start position in the first race.

“I was out in front early on in the first part of the session on the first set of tyres but just couldn’t get it together in the second half. In the race, I had a really good start but was involved in an incident at Turn 1 which bent my wishbone and I could no longer continue.”

Mardenborough qualified the best of the three Arden drivers in fifteenth, but was handed a three-place grid penalty for crossing the pit entry during the session so started eighteenth. He made a good race one start to sit thirteenth, and then moved up to eleventh just behind Niederhauser at the flag. He made another good start on Sunday, moving up to eighth on the first lap and then into the top six by the end of the second lap. Unfortunately he spun off the track on lap seven and hit the barriers, meaning he is still waiting for his first points of the season.

“We had some good races this weekend,” said Mardenborough. “Our race pace was good, which is confidence going into the next round at Silverstone. We have to work on our 1 lap pace and focus on qualifying. We need to have a good starting position for race 1 to more points and set us up well for race 2.

“The three of us were quick over the weekend so we know we have the pace, we just need to focus on the beginning of the weekend. My first race lap was good; I managed to overtake some cars, which really is possible here at the Red Bull Ring, especially at turns two and three. It’s an unforgiving proper circuit, with so many fans watching our race, it was a great atmosphere.”