At Spa, but not relaxing

02.09.2013

While spas are generally quiet and pleasant places to bide the time, Spa-Franchorchamps is very much the opposite. Kevin talks himself through the weekend which brought him P4 and P5.

How satisfied you are with the outcome? Finishing positions were not the best ones but then you gathered some useful points.

It was OK. There is no big difference if you are 3rd and 6th or 4th and 5th or 7th and 2nd, points are still the same. Second race could have been a little bit better but the first one was more or less OK. Race one was mega short, something like six racing laps only, but I still overtook two guys and two others crashed in front of me. First I managed to overtake Nick Yelloly on lap 2 or 3. Then I caught Alexander Sims who battled with Facu Regalia in front of him. Regalia wasn’t particularly quick, Sims tried to overtake him but went wide and I was able to leave him behind.

Then we made some adjustments for race two but certain things worked in the opposite direction we had hoped they will. But at least we tried and gathered a knowledge.

Spa with its long straights is a very different compared to previous tracks in this year GP3 calendar. Did it mean more overtaking opportunities?

We had some overtaking indeed, but it was not that different overall. Just look how Daniil Kvyat won race one – starting from pole and leading all the way to the finish despite having Conor Daly in his slipstream and simply driving away from third-placed drivers before the safety car intervened. He was able to pull away a second per lap. In race two he was in front of me in the beginning but when I managed to overtake him on lap three or four he was not even able to keep my pace.

And what about tire degradation?

It seems to be the same old story – if you are further back your tires wear out more. But as I mentioned, at least overtaking was possible this time. And Monza where we will have the next round has even longer straights and that should give us even more overtaking opportunities.

In Formula 1 they must go for a compromise at Spa and sacrifice some straightline speed to downforce or vice versa. Do you have the same possibilities when setting up the car?

Yes we have, to some extent. Our set-up window is not massively large but we can do one or two things.

During the qualification you were fastest of all in sector 1 but not that good further down the track. Was it because of the set-up or it just happened?

I would say it simply happened. I caught a good slipstream in the beginning of the lap and my time went purple in sector 1. Then I caught my team-mate Aaro Vainio’s slipstream in sector 2 but tires were finished already and it didn’t change anything. Generally in Spa, if you have less wing and less drag you will be fast in sectors 1 and 3, if you have more wing and more downforce, you will gain in sector 2. Majority of drivers had quite similar setup with almost maximum downforce.

In qualification you were near the top on two first tire sets but then lost a couple of places with the final one. What happened?

I managed to put together almost an ideal lap with the second set and simply couldn’t improve much enough with the third one. Many other drivers had only two fresh sets remaining for qualification as they had used their first ones during practice on Friday. So maybe it was a little bit skewed picture in the beginning when many people were on old tires and we were on new ones.

What are you expecting from Monza?

We have to do something to get our starts right with this ultra-long first gear. At the moment the most important thing is to take off properly. At Spa we had problems during both starts. According to the regulations everybody has the same ratios but obviously people who put together gearboxes have got it wrong. We have so long gearing we even don’t use 6th gear on the straights. First turn and final chicane were both first-gear corners in Spa. Eventually first gear is so long it gives you an impression you are trying to take off in second. It was no wonder five or six drivers stalled during the first start. I think I had to depress clutch about four times just to get going. I really can’t tell you how ART drivers had so smooth getaways. But their great starts were the reason they took so many points while we all had the same issues in out team.

 

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Youngest driver to win a race in Formula Renault 3.5 Series.

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