Euro: Waldschmidt 'quick but unlucky'
20 May 2009
Second year driver Henki Waldschmidt proved to be one of the dark horses of the opening weekend of the F3 Euroseries at Hockenheim, yet still came away empty-handed after more bad luck.
The SG Formula driver could be found towards the front of the field during both practice sessions and qualifying, and the first race of the season looked as though it may yield a useful start to the Dutchman's campaign - only for mechanical failure to deny him late in the day, and also remove the opportunity of a possible pole position start in race two.
After a winter of thorough preparation, Waldschmidt went into the pre-event test on Friday morning full of confidence, the 20-year old gradually building up his speed on the drying Grand Prix circuit, knowing that the really quick times could be realised only at the end of the session. So, while most drivers went out on fresh rubber for their last run, Waldschmidt opted to spare his new tyres, ending the session in a respectable eleventh position on old tyres.
The second session might have hinted at what was to come later in the weekend, as the Dutch driver was frustrated, first by technical problems, then by the return of the rain, which denied any chance of improving his time, leaving him 25th overall.
He set the record straight somewhat during Saturday morning qualifying when, despite extremely cool air and track temperatures at around 8am, the multiple kart champion quickly found his rhythm and eventually returned to eleventh place in the order.
"We went quite good in the rain on Friday, a bit less when it was dry, yet I was glad that it was dry during qualifying on Saturday morning," Waldschmidt revealed, "Starting from eleventh spot on the grid gave me a good opportunity to score points."
The start of the opening race did not go particularly smoothly, and only after two restarts did the 28-strong field reach the first corner without incident. Having made a super start from the sixth row, however, Waldschmidt managed to work himself up to seventh position within a lap and, despite having to deal with a shifted brake balance, the Toyota protégé fought with Christian Vietoris and Jean-Karl Vernay for sixth throughout the 16-lap race.
It was particularly galling, therefore, to have the gear linkage mount give way just two laps from home, leaving the car stuck in fifth. Still lying seventh, Waldschmidt struggled to bring the car to the finish, but found himself stranded at the penultimate corner, Spitzkehre, with a stalled engine, dropping to an unrepresentative 22nd as a result.
With the finishing order of race one determining the grid for race two, Waldschmidt was always going to have his work cut out for him on Sunday morning. Again, though, he made a brilliant start, and got through the usual scuffling at the first couple of corners unscathed to progress to P18. After a short pace car interlude, he really put the hammer down, passing car after car to eventually take a well-earned ninth place, just three spots outside the points.
"I am pleased to close off this weekend with a top ten result as, after Saturday's misfortunes, I had not really counted on it," he admitted, "Throughout the weekend, we had the speed to compete for the podium, which is very encouraging for the coming events, but it's just a shame that our efforts were not rewarded with a podium on Sunday - after all Vernay and Vietoris ended up there. However, I strongly believe that we will not have to wait for success much longer!"