Nick Yelloly made a points-finishing return to Formula Renault 3.5 Series last weekend at Silverstone driving for the Charouz-run Lotus team, and spoke to The Checkered Flag on Sunday following his seventh place finish.
The British driver made a late decision to skip the Monza round of GP2 to race for Lotus in World Series by Renault, and was delighted to be able to show good pace throughout the weekend.
“Obviously in qualifying we were really quick, and actually got held up on my best lap so that was frustrating,” said Yelloly to The Checkered Flag. “I think we should have been definitely second on merit, so at least we’ve been quick and showed our pace.
“Lotus had given me a great car, and its nice to come to a championship where I know that the cars are quick and solid, instead of wondering if its alright.
“It’s difficult, but we’ll learn from today and we’ll see what happens going forward but the pace in the race was good; we got held up by some people who were slower and its very difficult to overtake in these things because of the downforce.
“We managed to get to seventh which is where we started but we were really quick at the end; when we got two laps clear we were really, really quick.”
Yelloly admitted it took a little time to readapt to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series car he last raced around the streets of Monaco for Zeta Corse back in 2013, but ultimately was happy to show strong pace.
“Its just so different to readapt to,” said Yelloly. “Coming from GP2 its quite difficult actually because the corner speeds your mind takes a while to get used to, not so much going faster in a straight line or braking later.
“Even in the F1 test after one session, you’re used to the straight-line and braking performance and the same corner speeds as a GP2 car so you don’t have an issue adapting too much.”
Yelloly felt the opportunity to race in FR3.5 instead of at Monza doing GP2 was too good to miss, especially as it enabled him to bring more sponsor guests than he would have been able to in Italy, but the Briton rued the clutch server unit issue that ruined his race on Saturday and the subsequent penalty for apparently ignoring blue flags.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to get back in [to GP2], but the opportunity was just too good to miss out on here really,” said Yelloly. “To be able to bring more guests and sponsors to Silverstone, with my home fans and a good team and the sun shining for us; and we scored some more points for Lotus.
“I think Fortec only scored with one car; it’s just a shame that yesterday didn’t go to plan. We’d been really quick since the beginning of Saturday morning, but not many things went our way.
“We had problems with the clutch server unit, I went to go to select first gear but it stalled so then I had to restart from the pit lane, and I went out and let everyone through.
“I then went after people and I was so much quicker that I thought I’d just go pass people, but they [the stewards] say there were blue flags, and when I saw a blue flag I pulled over but there wasn’t blue flags and I wasn’t convinced, but I got a penalty, and it’s a shame because I think we could have won today.
“We had nothing to lose and Rowland and Vaxiviere are looking for each other so we could of won, but at least we shown we are still quick.”
Yelloly is still in talks to return to World Series by Renault this weekend at the Nurburgring, and not necessarily back with Lotus.
“We’ll have to see [about next weekend]; we have some talks to do about what we are going to be doing,” revealed Yelloly.
“Budgets a big issue for me and always has been, hopefully we’ll be picked up by one of the teams as there are some drives that are available or be able to get back into GP2. Just as long as I’m driving I’ll be happy.”
The British driver spoke about his relationship with the Sahara Force India team, with whom he performs simulator tasks and even ran one of the young driver test days for the Silverstone-based outfit earlier this season, putting in competitive times, with Yelloly openly admitting it was a ‘mega’ experience.
“I do the simulator work for Force India, a couple of times a week, and there was an opportunity to test as they need to test young drivers anyway,” said Yelloly.
“They were going to put me against [Mercedes reserve driver Pascal] Wehrlein, I feel like its against because I’m competitive, in the same test, and it was just through them wanting me to develop the sim further and when I’d driven the real car with real tyres I could take it to the next level which we’ve been able to do since then.
“I’m eternally grateful for that being able to happen, also my link with Hilmer came through the Force India thing, which was great being able to make my GP2 debut so that was pretty mega, then onto the test, its what anyone wants to test an F1 car.
“I still wish it sounded like it did a couple of years ago but the whole experience of being an F1 driver, the technical aspect of it is far greater than anything I’ve had, you have four or five engineers, not just the one, all sorts of procedures and buttons you have to press and certain things you have to do at certain times.
“Also we were really quick, I think we were fifth on the day; I can tell my kids and grandkids that I was quicker than Felipe Massa, it’s pretty cool.”
Yelloly’s 2015 season was initially set to be racing in the European Le Mans Series with JOTA Sport, but the deal feel through at the last minute, leaving the Briton’s plans up in the air, but he believes he could find himself racing sportscars in the future.
“With the more in-season tyre testing next year, I’m hoping a second go with Force India, and I’m looking for a more full-time seat as one did not happen this year due to my late split with the sportscars,” said Yelloly.
“I’m not quite sure what happened [with JOTA], we thought the deal was done, everything was announced and as far as I believed I was driving, but maybe they wanted [Harry] Tincknell back, I’m not sure, maybe because the LMP1 project [with Nissan] wasn’t going ahead.
“Sportscars is definitely something I’ll look into [for the future]. LMP2 is obviously a good feeder for LMP1 and that would be my aim to be in LMP1, and DTM. Formula 1, LMP1 or DTM I’ll be a very happy man.”