22 Jul Unfortunate events for Fortec at the Red Bull Ring
20-21st July 2013, Red Bull Ring – The Formula Renault 3.5 hit the Red Bull Ring at the weekend for the final World Series by Renault event before the summer break. For Fortec drivers Oli Webb and Stoffel Vandoorne, a series of unfortunate events saw Vandoorne retire from both races and Webb not being able to start race one but finishing in sixteenth for race two.
The first qualifying session of the weekend, setting the grid for race one, saw Vandoorne speed round the Austrian circuit. The young Belgian continued to gain pace, eventually putting in a time of 1:16.527 and taking sixth place. For Webb a collision saw his gearbox ripped in half, not only putting him out of the qualifying session but also out of race one, as the team worked tirelessly through the night to build a new gearbox ready for race two.
With just Vandoorne lining up in the grid for race one, the young Belgian was even more determined to score points towards the championship. As the lights went out Vandoorne got caught up in a chaotic first lap, falling back into twelfth but keeping out of trouble as three cars limped back to the pits and retired from the race. As Vandoorne continued to try and work his way up the grid it was soon apparent his Renault powered Dallara was in trouble, seeing him back in the pits and eventually retiring from the race with suspected lost water pressure due to a stone in the radiator.
The second qualifying session of the weekend saw both Webb and Vandoorne back out on track after the Fortec team worked hard to get the cars ready for the Sunday morning session. After the disappointment of having to retire from Saturday’s race Vandoorne was back on the pace, setting a fastest lap time of 1:16.458 and seeing him start fourth on the grid for the afternoon’s race. Webb was also keen to get back out on track after not being able to contest race one, and qualified twentieth on the grid.
As race two got off to a flying start, Vandoorne looked to be making progress up the field until he made contact and spun at the first corner. After getting the car back out on track Vandoorne sat in 23rd but soon lost momentum and was back in the pits, retiring shortly after with hydraulic pump failure. Meanwhile team-mate Webb continued his race, eventually crossing the line in sixteenth.
Commenting after the weekend Vandoorne said: “It was the worst weekend we could get – having no points scored. We had made a big improvement in Sunday’s qualifying and it looked like we were in a good position to fight for a podium. It’s not been a good weekend for the championship but we will try our best to make up ground next round.”
Webb added: “It’s been a weekend to forget for all of us here. We’ve been fast but not had the ultimate pace. The guys worked so hard and it’s a big shame not to be able to have got the results we deserved.”