Jos Verstappen was a very happy racing driver come the end of the Feature race in Durban for the A1 Grand Prix, but the Dutchman's feelings were rather different at the end of the earlier Sprint race in South Africa.

Verstappen, who has contested all the A1 Grand Prix, took the emotions of his Team Netherlands squad on something of a rollercoaster over the weekend.

First, Verstappen secured his best qualifying position of fourth after the aggregate times were added. Morning warm-up saw the highly-popular driver pacy on track, and then in the barriers late in the session.

Sporting a new, black, nose cone for the Sprint race the former F1 driver was in a secure second place when presented with an opportunity on the very last lap, an opportunity that Verstappen's racing instincts would not miss.

The Dutchman went to the outside of Alex Premat barrelling down into Turn Nine of the tight street course, and so very nearly made the move around the outside in the corner, until Verstappen's Cooper tyres couldn't find the grip level required off line and the Dutchman span, within sight of the finish line. Instead of his secure second place, the attempt for first had turned into a sixteenth place finish on the classification.

"France missed some pace the last laps. There was an opportunity and I just had to take that chance. Now I'm not happy I did this," said a disappointed Jos afterwards, his frustrations evident to everyone at the track and watching it on TV.

Time for another nose cone, this time one with Team India livery. Verstappen then went on to make amends in the hour-long Feature race. With a superb start of the ilk of his famous ones in Formula One, and not of the stalls he has suffered previously in A1, Verstappen made six places on the first lap, but there was another nine places to come.

After a fast pitstop A1 Team Netherlands moved up the field further and further and after Germany went into the wall and Switzerland lost their pace because of braking problems, victory was secure for A1 Team Netherlands. That Verstappen's move on the Swiss car came exactly at the same spot as his ill-fated move on Team France in the first race, made the victory all the more poignant.

The win was Verstappen's first race victory since 1992. "Starting from sixteenth is of course never easy, especially on this circuit," he said. "With a good start I passed five or six cars directly. With safety cars and the boost button it is definitely possible to pass here.

"The last lap Switzerland had problems and at the same spot where it went wrong in the Sprint race, it worked this time. I'm extremely happy with this. The Sprint race was disappointing. Getting second there would also have been good. That went wrong, but this victory makes up for all that."

Seat Holder Jan Lammers, was in action in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, but was soon given the news. "Absolutely superb this win," he said. "For us this comes at a very good moment, for A1, Racing for Holland and Jos. It's too bad losing second place in the first race, but Jos showes he has got the guts to attack France, in the second race the difference between the Netherlands and France clearly showed. Fortunately that dominance is broken again. I'm very, very proud of the team."

If Verstappen has the choice in future between a black nose cose and one liveried in Team India colours, he is probably advised to opt for the Indian one.

 

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