Second place is becoming something of a theme for Edoardo Mortara's 2008 season, the Italian backing up his overall runners-up spot in the F3 Euroseries with a similar result in the Macau Grand Prix.
The Signature Plus driver had been hoping for more at the start of the weekend, having set the quickest time in both practice sessions and provisional qualifying, but then struggled to consolidate his form in the quicker second qualifying session and dropped to row two. His fortunes rose again in Saturday's 'qualification race' as he took advantage of poleman Carlo van Dam's demise to claim victory and pole for the main event, before the rollercoaster ride continued on Sunday.
Having had to give chase from the start of the blue riband event, a brush with a wall just after the second safety car period saw Mortara damage a front suspension wishbone and, with his handling awry, his challenge - and recovery from fourth place at turn one - was blunted and he eventually crossed the line in second place, 1.1secs behind surprise winner Keisuke Kunimoto.
"I didn't get the best start today, but I was still confident that we could get a good tow and get back in front at Lisboa, which is exactly what happened," he reflected, "Then I brushed the wall slightly at Matsuya after the second safety car period. It wasn't even a real impact – only a small knock – but it's just frustrating as this was the first time that it happened to me all weekend!"
Despite the damage to his front-right suspension, Mortara still managed to set some very quick times, and was delighted to have again shown the potential of the Volkswagen engine.
“I think that goes to show just what we were capable of,” the 21-year old said of his performance, “With a perfect car, we had a really good chance of getting past [Kunimoto] and winning, but it was not to be.
"Things didn't quite go my way, but second is still a very good result and one that we can all be proud of. If you think how far Volkswagen has come in only its first full year of F3, it's a very impressive achievement. I'd like to congratulate the race winner but, above all, the Signature team and Volkswagen for a brilliant season. I think we've surpassed all expectations this year, and this is a real testimony to all the hard work that has been put in over the course of the season.”
Mortara's plans for 2009 are expected to be announced shortly, but the Italian is understood to be on the shortlist of contenders for a seat at title-winning GP2 Series team Racing Engineering should he decide to graduate from F3 after two successful seasons in the Euroseries.