Neil Verhagen was one of the unsung stars of the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 championship round at the Red Bull Ring, with the young American taking a fourth place in race one and an eighth place in race two.
The Red Bull Junior and Tech 1 Racing ace played a starring role in race one in Austria after early gains from ninth on the grid, jumping three cars in one go at the restart before passing both Oscar Piastri and Christian Lundgaard to take fourth, although to his disappointment, only half points were awarded when the race was halted due to the weather conditions.
“Sure, Race 1, overtaking 3 guys into turn one then one at the restart and another on the same lap was a lot of fun and everyone was very pleased with that,” said Verhagen. “I certainly enjoyed it and was happy with the way the race went.
“It was a shame that we only got half points for that. When the rain came, two guys went wide ahead of me but I was too far back to capitalise on it and then the safety car came out. We ran behind the safety car for a lap and then they red-flagged it, if we had done another lap behind the safety car we would have done enough distance to get full points so that’s a pity.”
Verhagen was hoping to replicate his performance during Sunday’s second race but found himself compromised at the start, although his pace again was strong as he climbed a number of positions to take eighth.
“I had the same plan from the start [on Sunday] but was a bit unlucky this time and got boxed in, dropped to about thirteenth or fourteenth and had to fight my way back up to eighth,” said the American.
“That was also enjoyable and it is just a shame that I was starting so far back.”
Verhagen admits he needs to find pace in Qualifying in order to put himself in better positions to get bigger points, podiums and even race wins, as he feels his race pace is amongst the best on the grid.
“That’s the way it is at the moment, the race pace is there, once the race starts I just get my head down and get the job done, the car is working well and I am one of the fastest guys on the track,” said Verhagen. “If I was starting in the top five I would be racing for the podium and the win.
“So it comes back to the qualifying and I just seem to put too much pressure on myself and don’t get the times we are capable of. There are improvements to be made all around but the main thing is me and my self-imposed pressure.”