A1 Team Netherlands driver Jos Verstappen has admitted that it was his fault that the orange Lola failed to get off the line in the feature race in Malaysia, the Dutchman left to rue the loss of almost certain points.

A hot Sepang the day had started well for the team, with Verstappen claiming fifth place in the sprint race after making a good getaway and battling with both New Zealand and Ireland before taking the chequered flag. However, when the former F1 ace attempted to repeat the start in race two, he stalled and had to rejoin from the pit-lane.

After that, a top-ten finish was all but impossible, a fact made all the more galling by the fact that Verstappen, after a late pit-stop, set the fastest lap of the race. However, even then, however, the Dutch thinking had been a little muddled as, with the first drops of rain coming down on the far side of the circuit, it considered switching to wet weather tyres before Verstappen eventually went back out on slicks.

"I'm pleased about the first race, but....," Verstappen said after coming home 16th in the feature, "The speed was good, and I made some nice overtaking manoeuvres on Ireland and New Zealand. Fifth place was a more then decent result, and also a good position to start the feature race.

"Of course, the second race started off in the worst possible way. I let the car stall and then you are lost. The safety car did not come out, so I could forget about getting a good result. It's a shame, as I think the car was very good this weekend. Maybe not quite good enough to win, because France is still very fast, but, as far as lap times and race pace are concerned, we are close to a second place."

Despite getting less then it had hoped for, Team Netherlands still moved up to the joint sixth position in the championship, with 32 points, although team principal Jan Lammers admitted that everyone on the squad was feeling a little disappointed.

"There was no real start for us at the second race, so we all feel bad about that one," the sportscar ace reported, "We had expected to be able to really attack at the start as we were on new tyres, but it was not to be. After that, it becomes very difficult. At some of the other races when this has happened, the safety car came out, but this track is very long and very safe, so the safety car stayed in.

"During the race, you are constantly picking your brain about what you should do and how you can get a result from the situation. We decided to wait with the pit-stop until five minutes before the end. Then Jos had minimal fuel on board, and we sent him out on new tyres and let him use the powerboost button six times in order to set the fastest lap of the day. That would have given us a point. But, just as we made the pit-stop, it started to rain slightly....

"This caused confusion about whether or not we were allowed to fit rain tyres, even though it was not officially a wet race. Eventually, we took the right decision to go out on slicks again, and were lucky to be able to set the fastest lap of the race because the rain stopped."

Lammers admitted that, had the team fitted wets and the rain arrived with a vengeance, Verstappen could still have pulled off a miracle win.

"If the rain had really come in here, there would have been a few centimetres of water on the track instantly," he explained, "If that happens, you hit the bull's-eye. With slicks, you can hardly drive back to the pits, so Jos could have driven to the top of the field quite easily. But the rain stopped and, because of the confusion, we lost a lot of time at the stop and that's a shame."

 

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