Briton Alice Powell displayed improved progress once again as the GP3 rookie achieved the 8th fastest lap of the final race at the Hungaroring with Status Grand Prix this weekend.
Arriving for her inaugural race in Budapest, Alice’s car crew were all set and ready to take to the track on Friday for free practice after a track sweeper had been sent out to wash turns one and 14 before the session, leaving a fair amount of damp track. As this was Alice’s first time at the Hungaroring the decision was made to send her out early to collect as much data and give her as many laps as possible ahead of the weekend’s competition on a drying track. By going out early Alice’s tyres peaked before the track was optimised by rubber going down therefore she completed her planned programme in P21 unable to improve on her best time of 1:40.657.
Alice showed improved and strong performance through many of the corners of the very technical track during qualifying on Saturday morning. The front of the field – with many GP3 veterans and drivers with Hungaroring experience – was a close fought contest and another tenth of a second would have seen Alice improve her qualifying position by several places. She qualified in 19th position with a 1:37.730 – only 1.67 seconds behind pole sitter Vainio.
The English GP3 rookie made a very good getaway to race one on Saturday afternoon, but she was forced off-line during the opening lap and lost all the places she had won. She kept pace with the midfield group throughout the race and challenged Alex Fontana, an F2 race winner, for some time, but had to settle for 19th at the chequered flag.
Alice made an extremely good start to race two on Sunday morning from P19 and was up to P13 by the end of the first lap. She made up further places on ambitious moves and took advantage of on-track incidents to make up ground. Picking up race pace and achieving the 8th fastest lap time for race two in the process, Alice was running in 16th when she came in for her scheduled pit stop. A delay of 25 seconds due to a wheel nut issue meant that she returned to the action in P20 and was unable to make up lost ground until the chequered flag.
Alice Powell, Driver #16 Status Grand Prix, GP3 Team
“It was a tough weekend as I was new to the circuit and it is not easy to learn in such difficult weather and driving conditions. However we made progress all weekend although in race one, I couldn’t overtake and was pushed aside from P15, so I ended the race in a disappointing 19th position. Race two was looking much better and I had made good progress through the field until the pit stop. It is a massive shame because our results from Hungary do not show our true potential and so we have a lot to do before our next race in Spa.”
Simon Cayzer, #16 Engineer, Status Grand Prix, GP3 team
“It was a better weekend for us, but there were many elements against Alice this weekend. During race one we struggled with car balance, although she drove exceptionally well and was only ever 0.5 second behind those in front of her. The race was a bit processional and she became a victim of that, hence her final result. Race two was eventful. We took a gamble on tyre choice for all three cars on the grid due to the drying track on Sunday morning and opted for wets. Our set-up was challenging and so we decided to change to slicks in the pit stops. Up until that point Alice had raced really well, challenged and won position and was looking to be in the top 15 at least. Our strategy was the right one, as the eventual race winner pitted for slicks then too, but we had a wheel issue during Alice’s pit stop which cost her 25 seconds and ultimately a final race position reflective of her true pace. P20 is not where we wanted to be and Alice achieving the 8th fastest lap time of the race indicates that if we had executed her pit stop perfectly even a points’ position could have been a possibility. Overall Alice did a great job at another new track and we shall work hard over the next four weeks to prepare as much as possible for Spa.”