Trident drivers suffer glitch-prone weekend
26 March 2013
Coming out of the first weekend of the 2013 GP2 Series season, it would be hard for anyone to pronounce on the likely form of Trident Racing pair Kevin Ceccon and Nathanaël Berthon since they and the team were too busy overcoming a series of problems that assailed the Italian squad in Malaysia.
"It hasn't been a lucky start of the season for Trident," the team admitted after finishing the first round of the year empty-handed.
At least Berthon had looked set for a strong showing in Saturday's feature race thanks to a canny race strategy from the team - only to have his engine abruptly cut out on him on lap 20. Ceccon meanwhile was suffering from a malfunction of his drinks system, which in the sweltering conditions at Sepang International Circuit left him battling serious dehydration.
"After a few corners I realized that, due to an issue to the drinking system, I wouldn't have been able to hydrate myself and that's a major issue at Sepang," he said. He didn't make things any easier for himself during the mandatory round of pit stops, either: "Re-starting after the pit-stop, I accidentally hit the engine's kill-switch and it took some time to get back going," he sighed.
"On the other hand, I managed the tyres well and recovered some spots in the closing stints," he added. "All in all, I'm satisfied with the laptimes - I knew it would have been hard, but there's plenty of positive components."
He finished Saturday's race in 17th place, but when he came to line up in that position on the grid for Sunday's sprint race he stalled the engine and had to be wheeled off and started from the pit lane behind all the other cars.
“With just a few seconds before the start I pushed the clutch button and the engine stalled," he said. "The stewards had to bring me back to the pit-lane and I took-off the race one lap down.
"At that point, I pushed as hard as I could and the laptimes at least proved extremely quick," he added. However, he was unable to recover the lap he'd gone down in the meantime and finished the race in last place.
"In terms of future expectations it's been good news - but if I think of the potential we showed, that just increases the disappointment," he admitted.
Berthon's sprint outing was compromised because of having to start near the back after his early retirement the previous day.
"It's a pity not to have scored a result we had deserved," the French driver - who is in his second year in GP2 - sighed after that engine problem wrecked his feature race. "Right when I was almost sure to end up into the points zone, the engine shut down and I was forced to retire."
On Sunday, Berthon finished only just ahead of Ceccon in Sunday's race 2. "When you take-off from the 22nd place on the grid there's not too much to do to score a great result," he pointed out.
The team had opted to pit Berthon midway through the sprint race and he went on to set the fastest lap on his new set of options, although he didn't qualify for the bonus points because of his finishing position.
That hadn't been the team's target, anyway: "After having been on-track with harder tyres, I decided to come back to the pits and put softs on. The goal was to collect data in order to analyze it for the following races."
Berthon, Ceccon and the rest of the Trident crew will be hoping that the data acquisition bears fruit in the next race of the season in four weeks time in Bahrain and the Sakhir International Circuit on the weekend of April 19-21, and that they will encounter fewer problems and setbacks during the race than they did at Malaysia.