The Status Grand Prix team endured a tough weekend at Hockenheim as the GP3 Series reached Germany. Nick Yelloly continued his 100% points scoring record for 2014 with a double points finish, but team-mate Richie Stanaway failed to score for the first time in race one. Third driver Alfonso Celis Jr continues to seek his first point, and was unfortunate to retire from both races but the young Mexican showed good speed throughout.
Yelloly started third on the grid for race one but was boxed in by his rivals at the start while challenging the Carlin of Alex Lynn for second, and was forced to drop to fourth behind Emil Bernstorff. He would maintain that position to the flag despite suffering an engine problem.
“I’m really pleased with that – it’s one of the best races I’ve ever driven,” said Yelloly. “I was trying to pass Lynn on the first lap and my inexperience – it was my first-ever race at Hockenheim – got me boxed in so Bernstorff passed me. I kept their pace but I had a problem from lap three that got worse and worse. In the end I was hardly using sixth gear – the engine just wasn’t pulling. I was on the limit in the corners, making no mistakes, and our pace was pretty good.”
In race two, the Briton lost a place at the first corner after once again getting boxed in, and then lost another place after making a mistake to the Marussia Manor Racing machine of Dean Stoneman. He would wind up sixth, which became fifth when Jimmy Eriksson was handed a post-race penalty.
“I had a good start but, as I did in the first race, I got boxed in, so I finished the first lap in fifth,” said Yelloly. “Then I made a mistake in Turn 1 towards the end and clipped a kerb, and Stoneman got past. We had better pace than yesterday and our engine issue was fixed. It just proved you’ve got to qualify at the front and then it’s easy. I’m planning to do that in Hungary – I’m always quick there.”
Stanaway’s impressive run of points scoring came to an end in race one, when he finished down in thirteenth position. He qualified seventh but dropped to ninth on the opening lap, and despite overtaking the Jenzer Motorsport machine of Matheo Tuscher for eighth, he was unable to pass Koiranen GP driver Eriksson, and was then caught up by the Hilmer Motorsport machine of Riccardo Agostini. The Italian attempted a move on Stanaway at the hairpin that resulted in a collision, and the New Zealander dropped down the order as his steering was damaged.
“I lost a lot of ground at the start – the guy in front of me on the grid pretty much parked it at Turn 1, and that ruined my first lap,” said Stanaway. “Then I got squeezed up on the apex at Turn 2, which ruined my exit and lost me even more time. I was happy with the move on Tuscher, but not so happy with the move by Agostini.”
He made a good start for race two to grab eleventh, then moved up to tenth with a good pass on the Arden International machine of Robert Visoiu into turn two after the Romanian had made a mistake going into turn one. He then inherited eighth when Bernstorff and Marvin Kirchhofer of ART Grand Prix collided, and held the position until the flag. Like his team-mate, he was promoted a place after Eriksson’s penalty, meaning he was classified seventh.
“It was a good first lap and I got past a few people. The move on Visoiu was good – he messed up the exit of the first corner and I got a massive run, and it paid off. Then there were a couple of incidents in the middle of the race that allowed me to get the final point. We just need to have a better Saturday in Hungary than we had here, although I’ve never raced a single-seater there before.”
Celis Jr started race one from fifteenth but was delayed on the opening lap, and retired on lap two in a collision with the Marussia Manor Racing machine of Ryan Cullen that the stewards deemed to be the Mexican’s fault.
“It’s been a very tough day – there’s not much I can say,” said Celis Jr. “This has been very frustrating, but that’s how it is – that’s motorsport and I’ve just got to take the best out of tomorrow and try to learn from these situations. I was already radioing the guys that I needed to pit because I felt I had a throttle problem. But then the clash ended my race early.”
The penalty handed out to Celis Jr after the first race meant the Mexican had to start the Sunday race from the pit lane, but a number of quick laps enabled him to catch the field. It was Cullen again that caused his downfall, this time when the Briton made a mistake that meant Celis Jr ran wide and damaged his front wing.
“It was all about feeling the pace, and this race was very positive,” felt Celis Jr. “I was at the back at the start, so to be honest wherever I finished wasn’t going to change things, but the good thing is I had good pace. My tyres were perfect and I’m really pleased about this. It was a shame about the problem at the end – the guy in front braked in the wrong place, I locked up to avoid him but couldn’t, and the front wing punctured my tyre.”