Briton Jolyon Palmer continues to lead the GP2 Series championship after claiming his ninth podium finish in the Sprint race at Spa-Francorchamps. His DAMS team-mate Stephane Richelmi’s luck continues to elude him however, taking a tyre choice gamble for the Feature race that backfired on him before the end of the opening lap of the Feature race.
Palmer continued his run of scoring points in every race in 2014, finishing sixth on Saturday during the wet Feature race, before taking third place in Sunday’s Sprint race. He admitted he was a little cautious on Saturday, but despite feeling disappointed with his weekend and seeing Felipe Nasr close the gap in the championship to 32 points, finishing with a podium was a positive.
“I’ve still got a good lead in the overall classification but I’m leaving Belgium with a feeling of disappointment,” said Palmer. “I reckon I was a bit too cautious on Saturday in the heavy rain. But I put my head down and limited the damage.
“On Sunday I again had problems at the start. Victory was within my grasp, but finally I only came away with a top-three finish. I’ll have to do better at Monza.
“It’s been a disappointing weekend, but even on a disappointing weekend, we’re still on the podium. Felipe has shown there is still a fight on for the title and we will come back strong at Monza.”
Richelmi was one of three drivers to gamble on slick tyres ahead of the Feature race, but the heavy rain on the opening lap saw the Monegasque driver have to pit and fall to the back of the pack, from where he never recovered. He made a few good moves during Sunday’s Sprint race to move up to twelfth having started twenty-first but was not able to claim any points.
“I’m very frustrated,” said Richelmi. “I could have qualified further up the grid, but our strategy of starting on slicks was a gamble. The rain ruined our bet, and in addition I did the whole race with my visor leaking so I had water and condensation in my helmet. I couldn’t see a thing!
“On Sunday although I pushed as hard as I could I finished in the same place as in Hungary. Looking on the positive side the car’s as quick as ever and I hope that my luck will turn.”
DAMS Team Principal Francois Sicard admitted having mixed feelings about the weekend in Belgium, feeling that their closest rivals Carlin had the better weekend. He praised Palmer for his professional driving on Saturday that earned him more points towards the championship but admitted the Briton was dissatisfied with his weekend. He also commended Richelmi despite seeing the Monegasque driver failing to score.
“We’ve got mixed feelings after this weekend,” reflected Sicard. “Admittedly we’re still in the lead in both championships, but Carlin and Nasr did a better job restarting their challenge. It’s up to us to fight back at the next round as it’s going to be very closely fought till the end.
“Jolyon was determined to avoid any collisions in the first race and he again scored points, but he wasn’t very satisfied with his weekend. Yet again Stéphane’s performance was up to scratch as he showed on Sunday. They’ll both be in maximum attack mode at Monza.”