21 July 2009
Bianchi revels in 'dream' weekend.
Jules Bianchi arrived in Holland leading the F3 Euroseries drivers' championship and left with a stronger grip on top spot after producing what he described as a performance beyond what he could have imagined.
The ART Grand Prix driver bagged pole position as well as taking both race wins and fastest laps in the two outings at Zandvoort, recording the maximum points possible despite the series' reverse grid system. It was a performance that no other driver had achieved since Sebastian Vettel dominated at the Nürburgring in 2006, and the carried extra reward as it helped engine partner Mercedes-Benz to its 100th win in the championship.
"The weekend went like a dream!" the Frenchman admitted, "I arrived at Zandvoort in a very confident frame of mind, and my aim was to put the difficult Masters weekend on the same circuit a little earlier behind me. In free practice, we knew that we could do well and we seized the opportunity with both hands. After setting pole, the aim was victory in the first race and, despite a slightly fluffed start and a couple of neutralisations with the safety car, I managed to hold on to the lead and won by two seconds.
“I was eighth at the start [for race two] and didn't reckon I could win, but I was fourth in the first corner, and then I pushed really hard to gain a place. I was up to third when the driver in front of me was handed a penalty by race control, and that was when I realised a win was on the cards. I really went for it and caught the leader, and I was all over him on the straight. He decided to close the door but, by leaving his braking very late, he locked up his wheels and I was able to slip past. I took the chequered flag with a lead of six seconds, so it was the perfect scenario.”
Bianchi, the pre-season favourite in many observers' eyes, left Zandvoort with 17 points in hand over nearest rival Christian Vietoris, with the next event on the calendar at Oschersleben in two weeks' time, and admits that he is so comfortable at ART that performing on track comes easily.
"Today, ART is like a second family for me," he conceded, "It's thanks to all the members of the team that I was able to achieve such great results this weekend, so I'd like to offer them all my warmest thanks.
"We had a couple of perfect races. My car was really great this weekend, quicker than ever before, and I'm happy to have pulled out a comfortable lead in the overall classification. Nothing's decided yet, and we still have to keep our nose to the grindstone as, in two weeks, we'll be at the Oschersleben - a circuit I don't know - where our aim will be to achieve the same level of performance.”
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