A promising showing ultimately came to nought for Team France in Mexico City last weekend, with rookie ace Jean-Karl Vernay on the pace but out of luck.

Having qualified a strong fifth on his series debut, Vernay's A1GP racing bow unfortunately did not last long. After avoiding the opening lap carnage to run third behind Malaysia and Great Britain, he would come to grief only a handful of laps later.

"It was a tough start to the sprint race," the 19-year-old acknowledged. "I was surprised at the pace. As the cars pulled off the grid Junqueira passed me and it all went very quickly: Mexico and Brazil collided, and Germany and Brazil were forced into early retirement. Then I was third and I don't know what happened, but that was it - I spun. It was a disappointing result for me after qualifying so well."

Starting down in 19th position for the longer feature outing, the rising F3 star's efforts were compromised by a startline collision with Jonny Reid in the New Zealand entry, depriving him of any chance of a good result and causing the defending champions to slip behind Britain down to fourth in the nations' title chase.

"At the start of the feature race, it all went very fast," Vernay admitted. "I had contact with New Zealand and thought the race was over for me as I flew over his back wheel. Landing on the grass destroyed the spoiler and messed up the geometry of the car, but as I did not stall I managed to make it back to the pits for repairs.

"When I rejoined the race although I was one lap behind, I was determined to drive with both my heart and my head and fight every inch. In the end, I drove a strong race and completed two good pit-stops. It was a good learning curve."

"Jean-Karl's problem in the sprint race cost us a lot over the weekend after an excellent qualifying session," added Team France general manager Eric Boullier. "In the feature race the accident at the start cost us a good chance of a strong finish.

"To start from the back of the grid is always difficult. Despite his contact with New Zealand, Jean-Karl finished the race but he had to pit to change the front nose. It is very disappointing, as his physical condition was ok for a long race like this and his race pace was good. Jean-Karl learnt a lot from the weekend, though, and we look forward to the next race with him in Shanghai."

 

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