Quaife-Hobbs denied double GP3 podium in Spa

In what should have been a double podium-winning weekend, Adrian Quaife-Hobbs left Spa-Francorchamps with fourth place in his pocket and fifth in the GP3 Series points with two rounds remaining. The BRDC Rising Star from Tonbridge, Kent, had been in a podium finishing position in both races, running third in Saturday’s race, but claiming fourth at the flag, and second today before a mechanical issue sidelined him.

The 20 year-old lined up fourth for the first of two races at the Belgian circuit high in the Ardennes region, despite having just two flying laps in which to set a lap time. Going into the qualifying session on the back of fourth quickest in Friday’s practice session, Quaife-Hobbs had been the fastest during the opening minutes but when he pitted for new tyres, he was sent to the weighbridge, costing him valuable track time.

Saturday’s opening race was held on a wet track and a great start by the Marussia Manor Racing star put him third on the opening lap. A ding-dong battle ensued for the final podium spot with Nigel Melker, the pair swapping places several times during the race right up to the penultimate lap, when a lack of pace late in the race, meant Quaife-Hobbs was forced to concede the position.

Race two on Sunday saw him line up fifth and in dry conditions was able to get the jump on the row ahead, entering the first corner in third place.  A superb move on Nico Muller put Quaife-Hobbs second and into a strong position to chase down the leader.

However the next lap he began to lose power and was forced to pit. A valiant attempt by his mechanics to solve the problem unfortunately proved fruitless, when a valve inside the turbo was found to have broken causing his instant retirement.

“The weekend could have produced two podium finishes at least so it’s a little disappointing to say the least,” said Adrian. “Free practice went well, we only did half an hour due to the weather and were fourth quickest. We made a few changes for qualifying and were feeling pretty confident and the session started very well.

“However when I came in for new tyres, we were called to the weighbridge, which cost us track time.  On my second lap I was third fastest but I was among the first to take the flag and two others went faster, dropping me to fifth. With da Costa’s penalty, I took up fourth on the grid for race one and had a good start into third. The pace wasn’t quite there though and when Melker got past for the final time, I just wasn’t able to get him back.

“In race two I had another good start to get up to third, then passed Muller for second and was feeling quite confident of taking the position, until I began to lose power. I pitted but unfortunately it was the wastegate that had failed giving me no turbo pressure, and there was nothing the team could do to fix it in time.

“Nevertheless I think we underlined our pace once again, and although the results didn’t necessarily reflect that, we take something positive from the weekend as we head into the final two rounds in Monza.”

The final rounds at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, take place over the weekend of 10/11 September.