Emil Bernstorff took his maiden win with Arden International in the GP3 Series Feature Race in Spa-Francorchamps, at the fifth round of the GP3 Series Championship.
The British driver, who qualified third on Saturday morning, just four tenths off pole, managed to convert this to a second place finish in race one. With a stellar start Emil ran a solid race, his momentum unscuppered despite several safety cars, to cross the line just one second behind ART driver Esteban Ocon. Ocon was later penalised for breaching virtual safety car limits which dropped him to second. Emil took 25 points to maintain his fourth place in the Driver’s Championship. Unfortunately, his second race was cut short on the opening lap when he was hit from behind, forcing him into another driver and bending his track rod; the 22 year old was forced to retire.
“…My start was really good in race one, continuing our strong form. Thanks to the team we are ontop of that so hopefully we will have strong starts from here on up. I was right up to second and had a go at the lead but couldn’t quite get it, despite being side by side with Esteban Ocon. Then Luca Ghiotto blazed past me, but then he lost that position, so it didn’t matter in the end. It was a shame about the amount of safety cars, because I think we could’ve gone stronger if we had the distance, as previously we get quicker towards the end of the race.
“We lost temperature in the tyres and everything you work on then goes out the window. I was good on the restarts but couldn’t quite pass Ocon -I had a few looks though! I came home second which was really good and to have the grid slot advantage for race two. After the penalties overnight, I was promoted to the win which I was really happy about. It was a surprise but really nice. Everyone was making mistakes around me and I was keeping the pressure on and made a solid race so it was nice to get the win in the end. Everything was coming together.
“Unfortunately, in race two I was hit from behind on the opening lap which pushed me into another car and bent my track rod – the steering was so off! So I came into the pit lane and ended my race.”
Kevin Ceccon also had a very positive start to the weekend. A fifth place qualifying position set him in good stead for a good first race. With an equally superb start as his team-mate, the Italian shot down to turn 1 into third place. Unfortunately, he was then hit from behind, causing a puncture to his left rear tyre. The tyre opened up and he was unable to continue. Starting from 22nd on the grid, the Italian did his best to make his way up into the points but was only rewarded with thirteenth.
“…My start for race one was mega! I was up to p3 and certainly on for a podium. It’s a shame that someone hit me from behind and gave me a puncture to my left rear tyre, so this stopped my race immediately.
Race two – I was starting last, so I just tried to recover, at least get some points but I was p13 in the end. It’s a shame because Saturdays result wasn’t our fault. Im still happy about the improvement we have made and I hope at the next race weekend we can start and finish in the top 5.”
Alek Bosak had a remarkable weekend. Having qualified 21st on the grid for Saturday’s race, the Polish driver had hopes for a top ten finish and that’s exactly what he achieved. Alex enjoyed several overtakes on the first laps of the 15 lap race, moving up to eleventh by lap three. By lap nine the young Pole was up to eighth, fighting off pressure from Alex Palou. Alek finished ninth taking his first points of the season.
Following penalties issued post-race, he was promoted to eighth. Starting from pole for race two for the first time in his GP3 career, Alek was calm but bogged down on the start falling back to eighth by the end of the first lap. On his exit of Blanchimont, his front right tyre punctured and he hit the barrier, snapping his gearbox off. A disappointing end which could have been another points finish for the rookie.
“I’m very happy overall with the progress I’ve made this weekend. To finish in the points is really something. I wish we could have managed the same in race two but it was unfortunate. I’m hoping for similar performance next weekend in Monza.”