Both DAMS drivers enjoyed podium finishes in the opening Formula Renault 3.5 Series event at Motorland Aragon, with Dean Stoneman taking third on Saturday and Nyck de Vries second in Sunday’s second race.
Despite losing the victory at the penultimate corner of the last lap on Sunday, de Vries was happy with his opening weekend in the bigger cars after stepping up from winning the 2014 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 Series championship. He admitted he pushed too hard too early with his tyres that allowed Matthieu Vaxiviere to pass him.
“I obviously feel a bit frustrated after coming so close to victory, but what sticks in my mind is that it’s been an excellent weekend,” insisted de Vries. “I could have done better in the first qualifying session: after that the race was pretty satisfactory.
“I’m really delighted to have clinched pole on Sunday. The second heat was tricky because of the rain and I pushed a bit too hard early on and my tyres overheated.
“It was an incredibly closely-fought race right till the end and I want to continue in the same vein in the forthcoming events.”
Team-mate Stoneman was a podium finisher on Saturday, having inherited third when the twenty-second penalty to Meindert van Buuren for jumping the start was applied. He was happy to make up places at the start and follow the Fortec Motorsports duo of Oliver Rowland and Jazeman Jaafar to the flag around the technical Aragon circuit.
“Overall it’s been a good weekend,” reflected Stoneman. “Third in Race 1 is not a bad way to start the season. On the podium at the end of last year in GP3 and starting this year on the steps for World Series.”
“I’m pleased to have given the team its first podium finish on Saturday by controlling my race well. The start wasn’t bad and I made up places on the first lap. We knew that the leader had jumped the start and was going to be penalised so third was coming to us. It was a pretty good race and so I was looking forward to Sunday.”
Sunday was less successful for the Briton, with the Red Bull Junior being found guilty of speeding in the pit lane during his mandatory pit stop meaning he lost his seventh place finish and dropped out of the points to thirteenth. He admitted his mistake, but felt the whole weekend was a good learning experience for him.
“[I was] disappointed I didn’t score points on Sunday because of speeding in the pit lane,” said Stoneman. “The long race was new to me as were the pits stops and I learned a lot. We’ve made good progress in the cars’ set-ups and I’m sure we’ll be better at the next race.
“We missed out on points today but overall we’ve started with a good base, I was the best rookie and we can improve from here. We’ve got points on the board and learnt a lot including pit stops and so on, so we can be happy with that.”