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“Relief and Frustration”

May 21, 2013

Often it comes a short time after the race has finished and the plaudits have played their loudest.

Once the car has been slotted into Parc Ferme, the trophies handed out and the champagne sprayed, only then can the leading man relax and catch a moment.

A breath, drawn deep.

Yet despite his victory, Coletti – understandably – had other things on his mind. The win was welcome of course, yet it came with a heavy heart, as the Monegasque racer explains. “It means a lot because last week I lost my grandpa and two days later, I lost one of my oldest friends. I knew him since I was born.”

Coletti has garnered a 17-point lead over Felipe Nasr over the opening three rounds – helped somewhat by a nightmare weekend for Fabio Leimer in Barcelona, but circumstances added a weight to Coletti’s Spanish success. “[My friend] and his brother are the ones who made me start go-kart so it was very important for me to win today and I hope that wherever they are they are proud of me.
“I really, really want to win that race because it means a lot to all the people who knew my friend and my grandpa. My friend’s brother also passed away a year ago. He was the one giving the flag in Formula One. He gave the flag last year and then died a month later.”

Understanding the weight that sits upon one’s shoulder is just as important as how that pressure is measured. Coletti adds, “Everyone is expecting a really good result and they will be happy if I do. It does not put pressure, but adds a lot more motivation,” before concluding, “In the end, the championship is more important. The second of the standings changed this week from Leimer to Nasr. I have to keep on building the gap because not all the weekends will go as well as this one. Anything can happen in this sport.”

On the other hand, there is the slightly precarious situation that Hilmer Motorsport’s Robin Frijns finds himself. Stung by the quick wearing Pirelli tyres in Bahrain, the Formula Renault 3.5 champion acknowledged that experience and fought back with a victory and a 2nd place in Barcelona, but…
Frijns is still unconfirmed for Monaco – or any other rounds thereafter. He is the reserve and test driver for the Sauber Formula One team, but has no option for any testing beyond the end of year Young Driver Test.
For a driver who may be the brightest talent in GP2, such developments are only frustrating, not just for Frijns, but for the sport as a whole. Speaking to Autosport, the Dutch racer revealed, “I need to find some money, for sure, but I have to wait and see what happens. I did the best result I could – first and second isn’t bad at all. I didn’t get a sponsor from winning [FR3.5], but we’re doing our best to be in Monaco. Hopefully we’ll get there.”
These are words that carry an all too familiar tone.

Frustration was also coming to bear, ever so slightly, for Felipe Nasr and James Calado. With both drivers now well into their second seasons, big results had been expected from the pairing, yet the movement has proved far more difficult that originally believed.
As with last year, Nasr keeps hitting regular podium spots without actually winning, while Calado’s ART Grand Prix squad appear to have fallen backward over the winter.

Although not overly flustered on the outside, Nasr knows how important that victory could be in the grand scheme of his motorsport career. “Yeah I mean, [the win] is pretty close you know. It’s funny to say that because all the time it’s been very close but just not happening in the end…” However, the Brazilian reflects, “Looking at the title is the most important thing because all the drivers did not score points today so it’s good for me…”
ART Grand Prix appear to be at a loss – a situation reflected in Daniel Abt’s early season struggles. According to Calado, “The car balance is pretty good, it’s just lacking a half-a-tenth here and there – it feels like it needs more downforce, but there is none available. It’s something small; we think it may be tyre related. We are not getting the pace we should on one lap.”

DAMS pairing Marcus Ericsson and Stephane Richelmi also started the weekend in a happier mood than previous weekends would normally warrant.
Indeed, it has been something of a horror opening leg of the season, but where the pairing lined up 1st and 2nd after qualifying – with Ericsson ahead – neither would come away with points from the two races.
It was especially galling for Ericsson, who had finally broken his pole position duct after 37 attempts. Despite leading early, the Swede had lost places in the pits during the Feature Race, only to suffer a race terminal bump and grind with Sam Bird and Kevin Giovesi on lap 10. That was compounded by a 20th place finish on Sunday morning.

As for Richelmi, the pace simply wasn’t there and as he fell backwards, he picked a fight with Russian Time’s Tom Dillmann, only to be penalised for clumsily shoving Dillmann off track. Sunday morning would deliver a 15th place finish, some 44.2s off the pace, following a chaotic run around the Montmelo track.
Perhaps the biggest issue for Ericsson and Richelmi is that they have become known quantities and at this stage may be unlikely to get to Formula One without some sort of outside assistance.

But then again, it wouldn’t be the first time that has happened by any stretch, now would it?

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