Status Grand Prix enjoyed their best weekend of the season so far at Silverstone for Round 3 of the 2014 GP3 Series. Richie Stanaway took his first win for the team in Sunday’s second race after finishing seventh in race one, while Nick Yelloly followed up his race one fifth place by finishing second to Stanaway on Sunday. Alfonso Celis Jr had his best weekend of the season so far, qualifying tenth, and taking a best result of tenth on Sunday.
After a disappointing qualifying session, Stanaway was forced to start the first race of the weekend down in seventh, and a slow getaway from the grid meant that he was unable to get any higher in the race.
“Everyone struggled at the start, so this was an opportunity to make up ground but I didn’t get away cleanly either,” said Stanaway. “After that I just wasn’t quick enough really and the race was pretty processional. I worked on things through the race and tried to get comfortable, and now we have to think about how we can go quicker tomorrow. We’ll be on the front row so we’ll be chasing hard for another good result.”
The good result the Kiwi driver had hoped for arrived in race two at Silverstone when he took his first win of the season, and the first open-wheel win since race two of the 2011 Belgian GP3 Series round at Spa-Francorchamps. He made a good start from the front row of the grip to get ahead or the slow starting pole sitter Dino Zamparelli to lead into the first corner, a lead he would not relinquish despite initial pressure from Emil Bernstorff.
“I’m really happy, because it’s been a while – three years – since I won a race, so this is a good day,” said Stanaway. “I had a good start, which is obviously what I needed from second on the grid, and that gave me a clear run into the first corner. I had to be really aggressive on the first lap to keep Bernstorff behind, but I managed to keep in front and then I got into a good rhythm from then onwards. The car was mega, and our consistency this year has been great – Nick and I are the only two drivers who have scored points in every race.”
For Nick Yelloly, a few good overtaking manoeuvres on Jann Mardenborough and Riccardo Agostini enabled him to climb from his eighth position on the grid to fifth at the flag, but he was disappointed he couldn’t get further, feeling he was quicker than Bernstorff but couldn’t find a way past.
“After being quick on our first set of tyres we were disappointed to start seventh,” said Yelloly. “My launch at the start was terrible – I had such massive wheelspin. But I managed to get through Turn 4 [The Loop] better than the others and made a move on Mardenborough, and then I passed Agostini. I felt much quicker than Bernstorff but I couldn’t get close enough without losing downforce. I felt I had an extra chunk of pace I couldn’t use.”
On Sunday, Yelloly made a good start from fourth to slot into third behind Stanaway and Bernstorff, then made a good move on his fellow Brit to move into second behind his team-mate. He was able to drop the Carlin driver to enable the team claim a 1-2 finish.
“A good one-two for the team, and it’s nice to see,” said Yelloly. “I’m happy with that. I got a good launch off the line and I was hounding Bernstorff. I got a good run around the outside of Brooklands and sent it around the outside – one of the best moves I’ve done in my life! I pushed onto the back of Richie but if I got close I struggled with my tyres, so I chilled out and brought it home. We’ve made some really good improvements and I’m much more confident in the car. Also, I had to keep up my record of a podium every time I race at Silverstone in GP3!”
The third driver in the team Alfonso Celis Jr had his best weekend to date, but is still looking for his first points of the season. He qualified an excellent tenth on the grid for race one, but a bad start relegated him to seventeenth. He made a good move on Robert Visoiu to take sixteenth, but despite good pace the Mexican driver could not climb any higher on Saturday.
“Qualifying in the top 10 was good progress for me,” said Celis Jr. “But that was a very tough race. I was expecting more, for sure, but I had a really bad start. I was trying to look after the tyres, and I was able to learn a lot, and the tyres were all there at the end, so the race went quite OK for me. The contact with Visoiu wasn’t a big deal – the car got a little bit oversteery for a few laps but after then it was fine.”
On Sunday for race two, he managed to climb a few places to finish in the top ten for the first time this year, and was only eight seconds away from eighth and the final point. He feels he is on the right track as he grows in confidence during his debut year in GP3.
“A good result came out of it, so I’m happy,” said Celis Jr on Sunday. “I did make a lot of mistakes, but finally to finish a weekend without issues, without crashes and without penalties is a very positive thing! There are a lot of things that could have been better so we have to keep working, and have a look at the data. As long as we continue to learn then I hope to be in a position to get my first points in Germany.”