13 Apr Mixed fortunes for Fortec on day 1 at Silverstone
13th April 2013, Silverstone – Fortec Motorsports returns to their home circuit of Silverstone this weekend for round two of the FIA F3 European Championship. Felix Serralles, Pipo Derani and Josh Hill had mixed fortunes in today’s two races, all scoring points towards the championship but with Hill retiring from race 1 due to damage from an impact mid race and Serralles retiring from race 2 due to damage incurred in an incident off the start-line. Team-mate Dimitry Suraovich is not contending this round due to a medical issue with his back.
The first race of the morning saw Felix Serralles have a stunning drive to take the chequered flag in eighth, a huge ten-place improvement from eighteenth off the grid. Pipo Derani also had a strong race finishing ninth overall, whilst team-mate Josh Hill suffered from damage due to midrace contact causing his retirement from the race after just eleven laps.
Serralles had a perfect start from eighteenth and by the end of the first lap was already sitting in twelfth, just in front of Hill who had also had a strong start, moving up two places off the start to sit in thirteenth. Derani maintained his tenth place off the start-line and was leading the Fortec three though the field.
As the race continued Derani was fighting to defend his tenth place from a pushing Sven Muller (Ma-con) whilst gaining pace on Tom Blomqvist (Eurointernational) who sat in ninth. Behind, Hill sat in twelfth just in front of Serralles in thirteenth, both were inseparable in the fight for eleventh place and with similar sector times it was clear that both drivers were on the charge. However it was Serralles who came out on top as he squeezed through into eleventh, passing Muller to slot in behind Derani.
With all Fortec drivers were in the mix and chasing to score points towards the championship it looked like all would finish inside the top 10. However when Hill caught Muller to fight for tenth position the two made contact causing damage to the floor of Hill’s car, sending him back to the pits where he retired from the race.
Serralles and Derani continued to push on, with seven minutes left on the clock Serralles was putting pressure on Jordan King (Carlin) in front, and overtook for eighth where he stayed until the chequered flag. Derani also profited from the move as King lost time allowing him to overtake and cross the line in ninth.
Commenting on his race incident Hill said: “I had a good start despite starting on wet side of the grid and I picked up a few places. I got through the first laps without any trouble and just kept my head down. I was right behind Felix, Pipo and Muller. All of us were looking really racey but I couldn’t quite find a way past. I eventually got on the tail of Muller and I was behind him for a good couple of laps. I did a good move to try and overtake to get past him on turn one and I did it – we got quite close on the hairpins and he was close to me going onto the straight. I made a small mistake and Muller was already too close behind me so shoved me from behind resulting in ripping off the cars floor. “
Serralles commented: “I had a great race just pushing as hard as I could. I made up ten places which was really good and I just concentrated on keeping out of trouble. I know Silverstone quite well so despite a poor qualifying I managed to get a good result.”
As the lights went out to mark the start of the second race of the day, chaos ensued as Antonio Giovinazzi (Double R Racing) stalled on the start-line causing a collision involving Felix Serralles as he had no time to react to the situation. Serralles went spinning off track along with Jann Mardenborough (Carlin) and retired from the race. The safety car was called out to allow for the track to be cleaned.
At the restart an incident up front saw three cars get tangled up, but Josh Hill and Pipo Derani kept out of trouble and make their way through the field. Derani sat in ninth whilst Hill made his way up into fifth to then drop into seventh.
Former Fortec driver Alex Lynn had been on the charge, after a spin at the sent him to the back off the grid, and was gaining pace fast. Lynn overtook Derani for ninth and soon picked off the pack to sit behind Hill who was now in sixth.
Hill defended his position until the last few minutes when Lynn made a move around the outside leaving Hill to cross the line in seventh, a great job nonetheless for the Formula 3 rookie. Derani followed to take the chequered flag in eighth and the vital points up for grabs in the championship.
Commenting on his best result of the season so far Hill said: “It’s always hard starting from sixteenth as it’s a bit hectic with everyone starting in front of you. It was my first proper start with a handbrake – I had one at Monza but I had problems with it. I had a great start and gained places straight away. There was a commotion up to turn one as a few cars made contact but I had to just fight my way though it and managed to get away cleanly. It was hard to gain places due to the battles going on up front, so I just kept my head down and to finish seventh is great. The last time I raced here was in the Formula Renault UK in 2011 so I’m pretty happy with my performance.”
Derani commented: “I had a really good start and was fighting up the front but I got squeezed when Lynn spun on the track and I lost some positions as I backed off to avoid any crashes. To finish eighth is a good result and I’m happy to finish within the points. I know Silverstone quite well from my time in the British Formula 3 so I feel confident here.”
Serralles said: “I didn’t even get to do one lap so of course it’s pretty disappointing. Giovinazzi stalled in front of me and as I got a good start I crept forward quite quickly so I had nowhere to go and caught his right rear spinning me around. The team are working hard to get the car fixed and I’m confident they will get it fixed for tomorrow.”
Felix Serralles powers through Silverstone