The DAMS team left the Nurburgring having taken their sixth win of the season, having seen Carlos Sainz Jr dominate the opening race of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series weekend from pole position. Unfortunately for the Spaniard, he was forced retired on the opening lap on Sunday through no fault of his own. His French team-mate Norman Nato disappointed on Saturday but came through strongly on Sunday to finish sixth.
Saturday saw Sainz take his sixth pole position of the season and his fifth win as he dominated the race at the Nurburgring. He kept the opposition well behind him, and even withstood a late rain shower to take the victory. On Sunday, after starting fourth on the grid, he was the unfortunate victim of a clash between Oscar Tunjo and Oliver Rowland that left the Spaniard stuck in the gravel trap on the opening lap having made a great start.
“First of all a big thank you to the team as my car was perfectly set up and I was able to control the first race,” said Sainz. “At the end the rain could have caused some problems, but it all ended well.
“On Sunday I made a good start and when I wanted to take up the line for the first corner, I was hit by Rowland and I found myself stopped off the circuit. I’ve still got a good lead in the championship and I feel confident for the rest of the season.”
Consistency and strong qualifying pace are still lacking from team-mate Nato’s package. His fight back from a lowly grid slot on Sunday to take sixth proved he has the pace during the races, but qualifying towards the back of the field will always start him on the back foot.
“Once again a mixed weekend,” said Nato. “My problem is still qualifying. I was delayed in the final laps when it mattered. In free practice I’m in the same tenth as Carlos and in the race I managed to fight my way into the points.
“So there’s a positive side, but starting further up the grid with this level of performance and this car I can aim for a top-three finish almost everywhere. In any case, thank you to the team for its unfailing backing. I hope I can reward them after the holidays.”
Managing Director Francois Sicard was relatively happy with the weekend despite Sainz’s Sunday retirement and Nato’s failure to score on Saturday. He was however delighted with Sainz on Saturday for taking the victory, and praised Nato’s comeback into the points on Sunday.
“Overall it’s been a good weekend, but it could have been better had Carlos not retired on Sunday,” said Sicard. “It was a race incident, nothing more. This being said, I’d like to congratulate the team on another victory. Carlos scored it in masterly fashion.
“Norman was not helped by the circumstances in qualifying although he’s got the speed as his brilliant comeback in race two proved. Now we can enjoy some holidays and come back in fighting form to finish the job in the last three races!”