Despite getting a less then hoped for result A1 Team Netherlands has moved up to the joint sixth position in the Championship after the fifth round of the A1 Grand Prix at Sepang. The team has a total of 32 points. On a sunny and hot Sepang the day started well for the team, with a fifth place in the Sprint race. Jos Verstappen had a good start and was able to stay away from trouble. For few laps Verstappen lost positions to New Zealand and Ireland, but both were overtaken by Verstappen shortly after. With the fifth place finish the team collected six points.
With a fifth place to start from a good result for the Feature race seemed more then possible, also because throughout the weekend A1 Team Netherlands showed strong pace. At the start it all went wrong wen Verstappen stalled the car on the grid and had to start the race from the pitlane. A top finish was impossible. This was a shame because the race pace of A1 Team Netherlands this weekend was on a top level. This was confirmed at the end of the race when Verstappen , after a late pitstop, set the fastest lap of the race. At that pitstop, four laps before the end, the first drops of rain came down and for a split second the team thought about switching to wet weather tyres. The rain did not come though and Verstappen went out again on slick tyres. At the end he finished the race as 16th.
Jos Verstappen “I’m pleased about the first race. The speed was good, I think and I had some nice overtaking manoeuvres on Ireland and New Zealand. A fifth place was a more then decent result and also a good position to start the Feature race. But the second race started off in the worst way of course. I let the car stall and then you are lost. The safey car did not go out and then you can forget about getting a good result. That’s a shame. I think the car was very good this weekend. Not quite good enough to win, because France is still very fast. But as far as lap times and race pace are concerned we are close to a second place”.
Team principal Jan Lammers said everyone was feeling bad about the less then hoped for result, but he was very happy with the pace of the car. In Sepang A1 Team Netherlands showed to be able to compete with the top of the field, says Lammers and according to him the team also learned a lot. The confusion at the pitstop, that cost the team much time is frustrating to everyone according to Lammers, but especially for the mechanics, who were more then ready for a fast pitstop. In the morning they had already done a stop in under 14 seconds.
Jan Lammers; “There was no real start for us at the second race, we all feel bad about that one. We had expected to be able to really attack at the start. We were on new tyres. But this was not to be. Then it becomes very difficult. At some of the other races this also happened, but there the safety car came out. This track is very long and very safe, so like we anticipated the safety car stayed in. During the race you are constantly picking your brain about what you should do and how you can get a result from this. Then we decided to wait with the pitstop until five minutes before the end. Then Jos has got minimal fuel on board. We had a strategy of sending Jos out on new tyres and letting him use the powerboost button six times in order to set the fastest lap of the day. That would have given us a point. But just when we had the pitstop it started to rain slightly. This caused confusion about wether or not we were allowed to fit raintyres, even though it was no official wet race yet. Eventually we took the right decision to go out on slicks again and were lucky to be able to set the fastest lap of the race because the rain stopped. At first we took a huge gamble. If the rain had really come in here, there would have been a few centimetres of water on the track instantly. If that does happen you hit the bullseye, because then with slicks you can hardly drive back to the pits. Then Jos could have driven to the top of the field quite easily. But the rain stopped and because of the confusion you lose a lot of time at the stop and that’s a shame. In the end we learned a lot this weekend though, especially how we can get more out of our tyres during the race and that is also very important”.
A1 Team Netherlands