Imola, September 20, 2008
#31 Harald Schlegelmilch, 6th
#34 Esteban Gutierrez, 3rd
Trident Racing entered the first race of the International Formula Master weekend today at Imola, taking two positive results: Harald Schlegelmilch ended up in 6th place at the end of a battling race, while rookie Esteban Gutierrez achieved a an impressive podium finish in his debut race at the revamped racetrack, leaving the crowd, the whole paddock and the team itself just astonished. Esteban and Harald shared row 3 at the start: the 17-year-old Mexican shown great class in moving up one spot, and even improved his position after a few corners, keeping third place and lapping consistently all the way to the end. Today`s debut has been really rewarding for Esteban and for all the Trident Racing staff, providing another confirmation of the team`s high competitive level. The weekend is set to come to an end tomorrow with Race 2 and, once again, Harald and Esteban will be able to aim at a podium spot.
"I didn`t carry any expectation here at Imola on a performance standpoint. I knew I would have faced a tough job in learning the track as well as a completely new car. The approach was good though, as I found an extremely positive feeling with both the team and the car, starting to discover limits lap by lap. I was not really lucky in qualifying, but I had a positive start that allowed me to move from 5th to 3rd place. I was really surprised since it was my first start with a steering wheel-controlled clutch: I have to say the tips i was given by Harald and my engineer proved really valuable. The race itself was pretty linear. I`m glad I didn`t have any problem with my physical preparation. The only issue happened in the closing stages, when I was running behind Vand Der Drift and I saw yellow flags exposed. In F.BMW races, if drivers don`t actually slow down they`re assessed penalties. The stewards are not so strict here, so I lost three seconds. It`s one of the many things I learned from this weekend but in the end I really have to thank the team. Third place is great, and I`m not even sure to have reached the car`s limit. My goal is now to repeat and take a podium spot tomorrow".
"After practice I expected a racetrack with a lot of passing opportunities, but during the race I almost immediately realized it wasn`t so. I had quite a good start, but at the end of the straight i got stuck in the battle among the cars I had in front. At that point I figured out that the only place to move on was at the end of the front-stretch, and I had to stay behind Ammermueller despite being actually faster. It was an intense race though, as I stayed in the ‘fight’ all-day long and even managed to make a few good passes. I hope to perform well tomorrow, where I`ll count on a good starting spot. My team is doing a awesome job, and I`m confident I`ll have a nice shot to podium".