DAMS secures comeback podium in Austria Feature Race with Ayumu Iwasa
DAMS’ Ayumu Iwasa claimed second place in the Feature Race at the Red Bull Ring from 16th on the grid, completing an excellent comeback drive in the final laps to take an important result for his championship charge.
After a frustrating qualifying session which saw Arthur Leclerc earn eighth and Iwasa 16th, the team opted to start both cars on wet tyres in mixed conditions for Saturday’s Sprint Race. Leclerc took the lead early on, but a Safety Car bunched the field and ruined the strategy, with neither driver finishing in the points.
On Sunday, Iwasa got an excellent launch, moving up five places on the first lap. With both running long on the alternate strategy, Leclerc pitted on Lap 27 for Super Soft tyres, with Iwasa changing rubber one lap later. Unfortunately, Leclerc’s rear-right wheel came loose while on his out lap, ending his race.
The Safety Car that followed the incident bunched the field up, offering Iwasa a chance to attack those ahead on older tyres. The Red Bull Junior made several overtakes, working his way up to second and challenging for victory on the final lap, eventually settling for 18 points, plus a bonus one for Fastest Lap.
Everyone at DAMS was extremely saddened by yesterday’s tragic news of the passing of Dilano Van ‘t Hoff at Spa-Francorchamps. Our sincere condolences are with his family and friends at this sad time.
Ayumu Iwasa: “I’m very happy for the podium, even though we didn’t have our best pace this weekend. In qualifying we weren’t quick enough to push for pole and I lost my best laps due to track limits after originally taking sixth. The Sprint Race was tough due to the conditions. We had pace on the wet tyres at the start and the softs at the end, but the strategy didn’t work out. Today I got a really good launch and was able to make up several positions on the first lap. We were fortunate with the timing of the Safety Car, but we made the most of it and I could secure some late overtakes to claim P2. It’s an important result for the championship and we need to build on it next weekend at Silverstone.”
Qualifying: 16th | Sprint Race: 11th | Feature Race: 2nd, FL (+19 points)
Arthur Leclerc: “Qualifying was clean, I put in some good laps and took P8. I think there was more potential in the car, but it’s so easy to have a time deleted for track limits here. Our plan in the Sprint Race was to build a big enough gap on the wets in the opening laps to allow us to pit for softs and remain at the front. I think it would have been possible if not for the Safety Car, so that was frustrating. Today, the speed was good and we played the strategy well, but unfortunately the loose wheel forced us to retire the car. The race weekends are coming quickly at this time of the season, so we’ll aim to improve at Silverstone.”
Qualifying: 8th | Sprint Race: 13th | Feature Race: DNF
Charles Pic, Team Owner: “It wasn’t our best performance this weekend, but of course we are happy with the podium. Qualifying was frustrating, Ayumu lost his fastest laps at the end of the session, putting him 16th, while Arthur had a positive session to take eighth. Our strategy in the Sprint Race worked initially, but the Safety Car bunched the field up and we had to pit for soft tyres, meaning we couldn’t score points. On Sunday, Ayumu had a great start, while Arthur was hit at Turn 1 and suffered some damage to the car. Both drivers decided to run long, unfortunately during Arthur’s stop we made a mistake that ended his race. We’re very sorry to him for the error and will make sure it doesn’t happen again. The Safety Car that followed was lucky for us and Ayumu, bringing him closer to the leaders on fresher tyres. He then showed the pace we know he is capable of to secure second, a very important result for him in the championship. Finally, everyone at DAMS sends our thoughts to the family and friends of Dilano Van ‘t Hoff. It’s fitting that Richard Verschoor, a Dutch driver and friend of Dilano won today’s race and we offer our sincere condolences to those close to him.”
Image: Dutch Photo Agency