Alex Peroni continued his rookie Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 Championship campaign with a second top-six finish of the season at Silverstone on Saturday, but a collision on the opening lap of Sunday’s second race denied him another strong result.
The Fortec Motorsports driver was making his first trip to Silverstone but soon found his feet, despite free practice behind held in wet conditions, and then in his first dry running secured sixth on the grid, a position he would retain in the race.
“This was always going to be a tough weekend, being my first time racing at Silverstone,” said Peroni. “It’s a more technical circuit than Monza, but even though both of Friday’s practice sessions were wet I was happy to set the third-fastest time in the last session.
“Saturday’s qualifying session was tricky on a drying track, so I was satisfied with third-fastest lap in my group, only half a second off the fastest time. That became sixth on the starting grid with the two qualifying groups lining up on either side of the grid.
“I lost a couple of places on the first lap, but as the race went on my car picked up pace and I was able to get within reach of the drivers fighting over second place. Although there weren’t enough laps left to improve my position, I was happy to set the second-fastest race lap.”
Unfortunately, Peroni was caught out in qualifying for race two as he found himself the first driver to take the chequered flag when it track conditions were improving, meaning the Australian qualified thirteenth, but he clashed on the opening lap at Vale with Henrique Chaves, which gave him a puncture. Following a pit stop, he was able to return to the track but could only finish twenty-first.
“Sunday started badly when I was the first driver in my qualifying group to receive the chequered flag on a drying track,” admitted Peroni. “I’d been on the leaders’ pace, but missing that last lap put me several positions further back.
“Starting the race 13th meant it was going to be hard to get into the top 10 to score points. But that disappeared early in the race when Chaves hit me from behind, deflating a tyre.
“He couldn’t continue, but my car wasn’t damaged apart from the flat tyre so I drove back to the pits for another one. The Fortec Motorsport crew did a great job to get me back into race during the Safety Car without losing a lap.
“Even though the replacement tyre was older than the other three, I managed to make up some places before the end of the race.”
Peroni feels confident that he has the pace and ability to race with the frontrunners in 2017, including those with more experience than him, but he knows any problem can be a setback, especially with such a large field.
“Like at Monza, Silverstone was another case of a good Saturday and a bad Sunday,” said Peroni. “I’m confident that even though this is my first year in Eurocup I can race with the leaders, who are in their second year.
“But it’s so competitive at the front that the smallest problem during a race weekend really costs you.
“In the first two rounds I’ve had some good results and some disappointing ones, but I’ll keep doing my absolute best in every practice and qualifying session and race.”