P3 in the qualification but unfortunate in the race

05.05.2012

WSR round 1 Aragón 2012

First qualifying session of 2012 went comparatively well. Kevin's first fast lap on the last set of new tires rocketed him to the lead but later attempts to better the time were spoiled by traffic. P3 was still a good position to start the first race of the season.

But at the first "hot" start new cars showed their yet-unknown side. Many drivers - Kevin among them - either stalled completely or struggled to get away. Field was bunched up, turn 1 became very congested as a result and collisions were inevitable. Kevin was second time unfortunate to be one of four cars involved in the melee. He was still able to bring his car back to the pits and with safety car deployed it seemed he can at least continue on the lead lap. Unfortunately the car was not raceable any more and Kevin scored a bitter DNF.

Looking at the positive side there's no doubt about Kevin's speed in the new car while many stars of pre-season testing dropped out of the picture today. And if you think about last year when Kevin also DNFed in race 1 at Aragón but took a spectacular victory in race 2...

Kevin: “Qualification went pretty well with P3 but there is still time to be found in the car. If I then manage to put good sector times together I can even take P1.

Actually I had one more shot in the dying minutes of qualification. I caught a good slipstream down the backstretch but the driver in front of me was on his cool-down lap and braked so early I had to abandon my fast lap in order not to crash into him.

At the start my initial getaway was rather good, then engine revs unexpectedly dropped. We have a launch control system on our cars which I always put to one certain setting. Until today I had done at least 10 practice starts with this setup and all had been super. But now the engine almost stalled, I just managed to grab the clutch and kept the engine running. Amazingly I was still sixth before Turn 1 because many others had also problems pulling off. It was not bad position at all, especially considering how the race developed later.

Then, before turning in I looked to the mirror and saw Alexander Rossi coming at unbelievable speed. I was also late on brakes but it was nothing compared to him. Can you imagine – I was P3 on the grid, he was P13 and we met at Turn 1! I was sure we both are going to go wide and tried to avoid contact in the hope of later switchback. Unfortunately, doing so I hit Walter Grubmüller who in turn had started braking very early. I touched his left-rear with my right-front very lightly and my car was absolutely OK afterwards. Except the steering wheel stood about 150 degrees askew due to the bent trackrod which made the car undriveable.

It was a shame. I had very good feeling at the start but obviously you feel megapoor if it ends up like it did.”

 

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