The opening round of the 2020 FIA Formula 2 and FIA Formula 3 Championships saw German team HWA Racelab secure their first points in F2 thanks to Guiliano Alesi.
The Frenchman drove a stellar feature race on the alternate strategy to climb 12 places to sixth with eight positions gained on the opening lap alone.
Luck however wasn’t favouring his teammate Artem Markelov who retired from both races with mechanical issues, something that also plagued Alesi in the sprint race.
“It was a weekend of highs and lows for us. We had technical issues in qualifying, but made up for that with a perfect pit stop strategy on Saturday,” said Alesi after the weekend.
The pace was really good in the opening race. Unfortunately, race two came to a very quick end for me. I did not even manage one lap, as I was stopped in my tracks by a damaged engine. We must now take the positives out of the weekend and continue to work hard, in order to improve over the course of the season.”
The luckless Markelov said, “We started really well in free practice, but had a few issues with the set-up of the car in qualifying. That made it difficult to get a top result. The strategy in race one was excellent. We were consistently fighting our way through the field until I was stopped by a problem with the throttle.
“I made a poor start in race two, which cost me a number of positions. After the damage to my front wing, we decided to come into the pits and then to rejoin the race. Despite all that, we learned some important lessons with regard to how the car reacts to any changes we make. I hope I can put the information I have received from the team into practice, and am looking forward to next weekend.”
There were similar frustrations in F3 as Jake Hughes had to sacrifice a fifth-placed grid slot on the formation lap with a car issue and he was unable to make it higher than 28th in the first race but did drive to 12th in race two.
The points came for Brazilian rookie Enzo Fittipaldi who finished ninth in the second race of the weekend, taking two points home for the team.
“I am very pleased with the first points of the season,” said Fittipaldi. “We did not have the best start to the weekend, with DRS issues in qualifying. However, I had good pace in the opening race and made up eleven places. We made more improvements to the car today, which paid off. Apart from the first lap, the race was perfect.
“I overtook a car on virtually every lap and crossed the finish line in ninth place. Two points and the second-fastest lap, just five hundredths of a second slower than the fastest – that’s pretty good. We had the strongest pace out of everyone today. The car was very good. Thank you to the whole team for the fantastic job they have done!”
Meanwhile Hughes, who will be determined to make amends in round two, said, “Today’s race was a very positive one. It was nice to make a good impression at the end of the weekend. From 28th on the grid to 12th place – that was really strong.
“The safety car phase slowed me down a bit, otherwise I could even have been looking at some points. The pace was very good. Few were quicker than us today, which means we can be positive looking ahead to next week. I am looking forward to next weekend!”
Jack Doohan had a solid weekend on his first in F3 despite not scoring points, he was consistently on pace with those around him and will take confidence into next week’s Styrian Grand Prix.
He said, “The weekend did not play out as we had hoped. After qualifying, I had to start from the middle of the pack on Saturday. In the race, the tyres ultimately overheated a little. That resulted in me dropping from eleventh to 14th place, and meant that I missed out on the reverse grid pole that I was hoping for.
“Today (Sunday), I had problems with the steering quite early on in the race, then my car unfortunately suffered light damage. I had to come into the pits and my race was over. Not an ideal weekend. We must now keep our chin up and stay focused.”