The Status Grand Prix team took their second podium finish of the season with Richie Stanaway claiming third in race two at the Red Bull Ring in Austria after finishing fourth in race one. Team-mate Nick Yelloly took a seventh and a fifth in Austria, but third driver Alfonso Celis Jr retired from race one and finished nineteenth in race two.
Stanaway was bumped down to eighth in qualifying after running in the top five for most of the session, but made up for that by making a terrific start up to third on the opening lap. He lost a place at the restart to Koiranen GP’s Jimmy Eriksson, but kept the pressure on the Swedish driver before ultimately settling for fourth.
“I got a mega start, which was exactly what I needed after qualifying,” said Stanaway. “There was a crash to the outside of me at Turn 1 and I came out of there in third place. Then I had a bad restart – there was maybe some debris on my tyres. Eriksson had mega grip on me at the restart; my grip came back but then I struggled again towards the end. But it’s good points again.”
Race two saw Stanaway claim a podium finish in third, but damaged his suspension in a collision with team-mate Yelloly as the two attempted to avoid the crash between Jenzer Motorsport’s Matheo Tuscher and Carlin’s Luis Sa Silva at the front. He was running second until four laps until the end when Eriksson once again managed to pass the New Zealander.
“I didn’t get the best of starts, but I held onto my position without losing any places,” said Stanaway. “It was quite chaotic what was going on in front – I had the best seat in the house! I was two-wide and the guys in front were three-wide. As a result there was a shunt and I ended up gaining some positions. But the contact damaged one of my wishbones, which made the car difficult. The steering offset was pretty bad, and I’m actually pretty lucky to have got to the finish with the wishbone the way it was. Good points, and hopefully we’ll be on the pace at Silverstone.”
Yelloly was disappointed after his qualifying session after being held up on track that left him starting race one down in ninth position, but managed to move up to sixth at the start of the race, but was boxed in at the restart and lost a place to Tuscher and therefore finished seventh, which meant a front row grid slot for race two.
“That was good after qualifying, where I got held up on a lap that could have put me on the front couple of rows and I was disappointed to end up ninth,” said Yelloly. “I got straight up to sixth at the start and then I dropped a place because I just got boxed in and had nowhere to go after the restart. After that I kept it safe for seventh to get a front-row start for tomorrow and, hopefully, some big points.”
The Briton managed to lead race two for the briefest of moments before Sa Silva and Tuscher got passed, and then damaged his steering in the contact with Stanaway as the two team-mates avoided Sa Silva and Tuscher’s accident at turn three. The Briton eventually finished fifth but admitted he was hoping for more.
“It was a crazy race,” explained Yelloly. “I managed to get into the lead for a brief second, but got caught in the cutback. Then when Tuscher went for the inside of Sa Silva I had to lift. I went wide at Turn 3 and the contact with Richie was unfortunate. We carried on and fifth isn’t the end of the world, but it’s not what we wanted. The steering was pretty bad though, so I’m pleased to score points. Now we need to get our heads down for Silverstone and capitalise on our good pace.”
Third driver Celis Jr was disappointed to crash out of the first race of the weekend in an incident with the Jenzer Motorsport of Chinese driver Adderly Fong. The Mexican felt he was making good progress up the field but saw his race come to an abrupt end on lap six.
“It was a tough race,” admitted Celis Jr. “I had a good start, but had to slow down early at Turn 1 to be safe. The race was good after that – I overtook one car at the last corner, two at Turn 1 and another one at Turn 2. Everything was going well, and I was catching a battle in front of me. They turned in really late and I decided to go to the inside towards the apex, and then Fong turned in and my front-left hit his right-rear, a big disappointment.”
Race two saw the Mexican start from the pit lane after being found guilty of causing a collision with Fong. He admitted he just wanted to survive the race without incident, something he managed but down in a lonely nineteenth position.
“It was good to survive the race without any problem,” insisted Celis Jr. “It was tough for me. With the pit-lane start I didn’t get a warm-up lap at all, so I went out with completely cold tyres. There wasn’t anything I could do, so it was all about surviving the oversteer. I just wanted a clean race, so we can go to Silverstone and see where we have improved and make more progress from there.”