23 Jun Gilbert and Bryant-Meisner take positives from Spa
The FIA Formula Three European Championship took to the 7.004 kilometers long Formula 1 circuit of Spa-Francorchamps this weekend. For Fortec drivers John Bryant-Meisner and Mitch Gilbert the weekend was tough and the duo bought home some mixed results.
Friday’s qualifying saw great results for Bryant-Meisner. The young Swedish driver set impressive times in the wet to qualify P4 for race two and P2 for race three. Unfortunately the dry got the better of him for the first race qualifying and he qualified 20th.
Teammate Gilbert showed great pace in the practice sessions and was confident going into qualifying. Taking P14 in the first qualifying session Gilbert was gunning for a top 10 in qualifying two. However bad luck was to strike when a crash in the session ended any hopes the young driver had of showing his quick pace.
Gilbert commented: “From free practice one I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We finished first free practice in 16th, but I think I drove well and the car felt really good.
“In qualifying 1 we managed P14. I think this was really, really good as we were just slow on the straights. However, the car Fortec gave me was really good, and I’m sure capable of being in the top 5.
“Unfortunately, I crashed on lap 1 in qualifying 2 at Eau Rouge and ended any hopes of showing our “true” pace as the track was damp. John was p4 and p2, which I think proved the point anyway.
“We changed the engine over night on Friday to try and find some speed, and had to take 3 ten place penalties. So I was starting 24th, 25th and 26th.”
With some fresh optimism the team were feeling confident going into Saturday’s first race. After a few laps both drivers had made up places on the grid and were showing promise despite struggling with straight-line speed.
As the race continued, traffic made it more difficult to pass and any chance of moving up the field was impossible for the duo. Bryant-Meisner crossed the line in 14th with Gilbert in 20th.
Race two saw a superb start for both Bryant-Meisner and Gilbert. Bryant-Meisner, who started in fourth, was soon on the charge whilst Gilbert had made his way from mid-pack to climb his way up the order and sit just outside the top ten.
By lap nine, both drivers had slipped a few places. An incident between Felix Serrallés (Team West-Tec F3) and Lucas Auer (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) in the battle for fourth saw the safety car deployed.
After the restart Bryant-Meisner was hunting down Tatiana Calderón (Jo Zeller Racing), who was now fifth. Just as it seemed he was gaining pace contact was made with Alexander Toril (ThreeBond with T-Sport) seeing the two out of the race just before the end.
Meanwhile Gilbert had benefited from the tumbles ahead and crossed the line 12th from 25th on the grid.
Starting second on the grid for race 3 Bryant-Meisner had a great start, overtaking Esteban Ocon for the lead. Ocon countered a few metres later and restored the former order still before the first lap was completed. Bryant-Meisner continued on and was looking to be on for a top five finish until car gremlins saw him drop down the order and eventually retiring. Gilbert also suffered car woes and crossed the line 23rd.
Reflecting on his weekend John Bryant Meisner said: The weekend was pretty frustrating, we were haunted by problems and struggled with straight speed, and Spa with its long straights made it even harder. It was a tough weekend and I hope we will show our true capabilities at the Norisring.”