Formula 3 Euroseries leader Edoardo Mortara endured a challenging F3Masters race at Zolder as he proved to be unable to challenge regular title rival Nico Hulkenberg for top honours.
The Signature driver was the quickest of the four-man squad to qualify 15th place, which was also where he finished the race after struggling with the rear tyres on his car throughout the event.
During free practice, held in the rain on Friday, Mortara adapted himself well to the new Kumho tyres used for the event and managed to then made it through to the top 20 shootout after comfortably making it through pre-qualifying – taking 15th on the grid.
With heavy rain forecast for Sunday, Edoardo the Signature team decided to run a full wet weather set-up, but the rain expected during the race never arrived – although the circuit itself was wet at the start of the race.
Struggling with his rear tyres throughout, Mortara was unable to stay inside the top ten having made up a number of places off the line and gradually slipped back to take the flag in the same position he had started from.
"Our choice of set-up was a gamble worth taking, as we anticipated more rain during the race, but unfortunately it did not come," he said. "The handling of the car got worse and worse and subsequently we found out that this was due to a tyre wear issue as well.
"As always the Masters was a great experience though, and now we very much look forward to the F3 Euroseries resuming at the end of the month, so I can defend my championship lead."
Signature team principal Philippe Sinault admitted the team was unsure what had caused the tyre problems but praised Mortara for his performance.
"As always Edoardo did an excellent job, but the tyre wear problem we encountered was a very unusual one and it would have affected him quite badly," he said. "We need to get the car back to the factory so that we can analyse all the settings and work out exactly what happened."