Racing Steps Foundation driver Jake Dennis, took to the track for Qualifying on Saturday morning posting the fifth best time (1: 35.117) just four tenths off pole. Team-mates Jack Aitken and Tatiana Calderon sat three tenths behind the Brit to line up tenth and twelfth respectively.
Jake had a good start but was pushed wide on the first lap losing out on one position. The Brit pushed on, but with the lack of overtaking manoeuvres from the entire field, Jake was unable to recover these positions finishing seventh. He picked up 6 points on his debut race in the championship. Jack was less fortunate with his start, bogging down off the line, he lost several positions. However, the Renault backed young driver claimed back two positions and crossed the line in 20th. Tatiana lost two positions off the start in an avoidance manoeuvre, dropping back to fourteenth but despite good pace in qualifying and impressive race runs in pre-season testing, the Colombian driver was unable to recover, finishing fourteenth.
Jake’s seventh position in race 1 meant a front row start for race 2. However, the overnight rain did not lend its hand to the Brit who was slow off the damp line, falling back to fourth into turn 1. He did his best to gain on his racing counterparts, finishing fourth picking up another 8points to add to his tally. Starting from fourteenth on the grid, Tatiana was hopeful for a points finish but had a slippy start dropping to nineteenth where there were no opportunities for overtakes, she finished eighteenth. With British-Korean driver Jack starting twentieth on the grid, he had a hard task ahead of him. Despite solid pace, he was unable to make any head way in the 17 lap race and finished nineteenth.
Jake Dennis: “For my first qualifying session in GP3 it wasn’t bad. I was pretty happy with P5 and thought we would be in a good position for a podium in Race 1 or for reverse grid in Race 2.
I had a good start in Race 1, but Nirei Fukuzumi (ART) went wide and I ended up a bit on the grass, so I dropped back to sixth. I made a small mistake which lost a place and we ended the race P7.
Overall the pace was good, especially at the end of the race.We had rain overnight with no sun on the grid and I was starting from a damp position. I was starting second but dropped to fourth and from our experience in race 1, we knew it was difficult to overtake. There wasn’t much else to do in the race but I managed the tyres and finished fourth overall. It’s a solid points haul for the first round of the year which im happy about.”
Tatiana Calderon: “Qualifying was pretty good. Unfortunately, I got some traffic in sector 3 on my good lap, but we can see we have the potential to be top 6 but P12 wasn’t such a bad start to my first qualifying in GP3 Series.
In my first race it was a shame because at the start there were some issues with the clutch. I was starting behind Jack and he stalled too, so to recover from that was really difficult.
Race 2, because we had issues with clutch, we went safe on the map and at the start I started on damper part of track, so ended up wheel-spinning a lot and was pushed onto the outside in T4 so lost a lot of positions and then it was all about following the guys in front. It was hard to overtake.
It is positive we know where we need to work and definitely focus on Qualifying and Race starts will be the key to practice for RedBull Ring.”
Jack Aitken: "The weekend was pretty disappointing in terms of results and in particular problems with our approach to the starts with this new car. However, our pace is very strong- which is a big positive we can take from the weekend.
The difference with GP3 Series weekends compared to Renault 2.0 is not being able to qualify again on Sunday for Race 2, you carry the result from Saturday through, so it's less forgiving but we have time now before Red Bull Ring to do our homework!"