More frustration for Mitchell Gilbert

as continuing engine problems prevent him pushing on in FIA Formula 3 European Championship

It was a disappointing case of déjà vu for ADD Motorsports driver Mitchell Gilbert as he was forced to make the best of another difficult weekend in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship.

The Australian was left frustrated as engine problems prevented him from finding enough pace on the straights at Norisring to finish in the points once again.

It left the racer considering his future in the competition with plenty of options being discussed behind the scenes.

But he felt that both he and his Fortec team could hold their heads up high after doing all they could in difficult circumstances.

He said: “It was similar to last week to be honest. We were struggling with the straight-line speed again and it meant I could never get the speeds I needed to, to compete.

“We were hoping things would be different this week and that we’d see an improvement, but nothing had changed.

“We made some bad decisions this week as well, but the underlining problems were still there.

“It’s very frustrating when you can’t overtake and race to the competitive standard you know you can.”

The writing was on the wall for Mitchell from the practice when he finished 19th, but support from his team kept him positive that they could turn things around.

He was pleased to finish 9th in the first qualifier and went into Race One in reasonably good spirits.

Mitchell had stayed clear of the crashes and was ninth in Race One when his Pit Lane Limiter came on, losing him a few places.

He’d got back to 10th when another big crash in front of helped him get into 6th. But the limiter came on again and soon saw him fall back to 14th.

The driver came back to finish 11th – although felt the speed still wasn’t there on the straights and that he was assisted by the crashes.

The next qualifiers saw things go from bad to worse. The team needed to bed a set of brake pads in, so sent Mitchell out with old tyres. Unfortunately, it left him unable to get a lap in, leaving him last in both.Mitchell said: “It was a mistake, we were having a lot of problems, so were trying different things and this was definitely not the right thing to do. It was weekend over after this.”

For Race Two they were the only car to go out on wet tyres, gambling on the weather and hoping they could gain some places if it started raining as it looked it might.

He got to 18th but as it was still dry entered the pit to change tyres. Typically, the weather then changed and he lost the advantage they were hoping to gain - and ended up worse off and in last place by the end of the race.

Mitchell started Race 3 in 26th place and after the first lap had got to 10th – thanks to some more crashes in front of him. His place at the back allowed him to avoid the carnage in front of him and get into a good position.

But instead of being able to push on for a good result, he couldn’t find the extra speed to overtake and could only finish 17th.

Mitchell added: “Race Two was one of those things when you hope something will come off which will make you a bit of a hero, but on this occasion it didn’t.

“Race 3 was probably the most frustrating of all, because we were in such a good position and should have been able to push on to get a 4th, but instead finished 17th.

“But that’s how it’s been for weeks now. I know I did a good job and Fortec has done a good job in the circumstances, but it’s a shame we haven’t been able to get nearer the front like we should have been able to.

“There are a lot of discussions going on about where we go from here, but I’m a bit unsure about how the plans will develop.

“I guess it’s a case of watch this space.”