05 July 2023
Five Alpine Academy drivers took to the Spielberg circuit across a weekend of mixed fortunes in Round 8 of FIA Formula 2 and Round 6 of FIA Formula 3.
Jack Doohan (Invicta Virtuosi) secured his second consecutive double points finish in Austria, collecting a haul of 14 points across the Sprint and Feature Races.
Starting the weekend off strong, Jack showed great pace in both sessions on Friday, ultimately finishing Qualifying in fifth. In Saturday’s Sprint Race, the Australian driver moved up to second in the opening laps, however, a mistake running into Turn 4 sent him into the gravel. Re-joining the race at the back of the order, Jack made his way back into the points to finish the Sprint in seventh. He once again showed incredible pace in Sunday’s Feature Race, moving up to second in the early stages before being caught out by a series of unfortunately timed Safety Cars which favoured those on the alternative strategy. Defending from those on fresher tyres, Jack ultimately finished the race in fifth.
It was a strong weekend for Victor Martins (ART Grand Prix) who collected a second pole position and fifth podium in his rookie FIA Formula 2 season, continuing to move himself up in the championship standings.
Running in the top three for much of both sessions on Friday, Victor set the time to beat with his first flying lap in Qualifying. Victor consistently battled for the top spot with Frederick Vesti and Theo Pourchaire,ultimately taking pole position with a 1:14.643. Starting 10th on the grid for Saturday’s Sprint Race, Victor fought his way through the order to secure a spot on the podium in second place. Despite a good start in Sunday’s Feature Race, the Frenchman lost out as a result of the Safety Car but managed to retain a point scoring position, finishing the session in ninth.
It was a weekend of mixed results for Gabriele Mini (Hitech), with the highlight being a third podium of the season in Saturday’s Sprint Race. Showing some strong pace over the weekend Gabriele finished Friday’s Free Practice in fourth but lost out on a higher position in the afternoon session, qualifying in 11th after he ran wide at Turn 10 and was unable to put in a final flying lap. Although he would start on the backfoot for the Feature Race, his position secured him a second place start for Saturday’s Sprint which he turned into second place on the podium. In Sunday’s Feature Race, Gabriele ran into the gravel at Turn 4 after slight contact with teammate Luke Browning, forcing the Italian driver to retire early from the race.
Nikola Tsolov (ART Grand Prix) had a challenging weekend in Austria in his first visit to the Red Bull Ring. The Bulgarian driver finished Friday’s Free Practice in 12th but struggled with traffic in Qualifying, closing out the session in 17th. Saturday’s rain-stricken Sprint gave Nikola his first taste of a wet race in a formula car and although he struggled in the initial stages he got to grips with the conditions, improving his pace in the final stages. Nikola closed out the weekend with a 16th place finish in Sunday’s Feature Race.
Sophia Floersch (PHM Racing) also had a mixed weekend at the familiar Austrian circuit, which sits across the border from her home city of Munich. Finishing Friday’s Free Practice and Qualifying sessions in 20th and 21st respectively, Sophia made up some positions in Saturday’s Sprint to finish 18th, before securing her best on track finish of the season on Sunday. Starting 20th on the grid in the Feature Race, the German driver made her way through the order to cross the chequered flag in ninth place but was unfortunately disqualified due to a breach of the Technical Regulations.
The Alpine Academy drivers now look ahead to Silverstone for Round 9 of the FIA Formula 2 Championship and Round 7 of the FIA Formula 3 Championship.
Jack Doohan, Invicta Virtuosi Racing: “It was a strong weekend in Austria. I struggled with the car a little bit in Qualifying, but the session went well, and we were capable of securing pole position with the pace of the car. Unfortunately, I was impeded and finished the session in fifth which is still a good result. We started sixth for the Sprint Race and managed to get to second on the first lap, but I had a slight hiccup going wide into Turn 4 on the slick tyres and dropped back through the order. I had a good recovery and managed to get back to seventh, so all-in-all I was happy with the result. On Sunday, we had another good start, getting up to third in the opening laps and then passing Pourchaire to reach second. We managed our tyres well and would have been able to catch the leader quite comfortable, however the unfortunately timed Safety Car meant those on the alternative strategy were able to get a free pitstop and those on the normal strategy could pit again for the super softs. In the end I couldn’t hold off those drivers on the super softs and finished the race in fourth. It was disappointing, and without the luck of the Safety Car for other drivers we could have had a better result but it was great to be quick in the race which I am happy about.”
Victor Martins, ART Grand Prix: “It was a really positive weekend for the team in Austria because we showed some good pace and we managed to get pole position. I fought from 10th to second in the Sprint Race which was a good start to the weekend, and we also finished the weekend scoring points in the Feature Race. Even though we were expecting a lot more in the race on Sunday because I started on pole, we need to find positives and we were still able to complete a full weekend which is good for the rest of the championship. The race was going well from our side, and we were maintaining our position in fourth and fighting for a podium position but unfortunately, we ran into some bad luck with the Safety Car. I also started to understand the car more in different conditions across the weekend. We need to keep working hard, we understood a lot on the direction that we need to take with the car, the tyre warm-up and even for myself on the driving side. It was good to be back on the pace in Qualifying and to get another pole position.”
Gabriele Minì, Hitech Racing: “Overall, pace wise it was a positive weekend. Once again, we were quick, the pace was great from the very start of the weekend but a small mistake on the last push in Qualifying meant we couldn’t start the Sprint Race from the front. On Saturday there was some good fights and really clean racing, I enjoyed it a lot. Sadly, I didn’t win but I managed to secure second place on the podium which is still a very positive result. Unfortunately, even though the start was good in the Feature Race, and I managed to keep my position, I wasn’t in a good position breaking into Turn 4 and although I tried to leave enough space there was slight contact with the car on the inside of me which ultimately meant I had to retire early. However, once again we know the car is good and the pace is good, so we will continue to push as we head into Silverstone and the coming races.”
Nikola Tsolov, ART Grand Prix: “It was a very disappointing weekend in Austria. We started off struggling with a lot of traffic in Qualifying, which prevented me from being able to complete a clean fast lap. Saturday's Sprint Race was my first experience racing a formula car in wet conditions and even though I struggled a little in the beginning, the pace looked strong towards the end. I again struggled for pace in Sunday’s Feature Race and couldn’t do much to rectify it. Now we are looking ahead to Silverstone. I have done some prep in the simulator which went well, so now we just look to improve out on track.”
Sophia Floersch, PHM Racing: “Being back at Red Bull Ring was amazing. I love the track and atmosphere there. In the end the weekend was pretty positive for me, we learned a lot and made some positive steps in the right direction especially in the races. Both the wet and dry conditions were looking pretty good, but for Qualifying we still need to keep working. Finishing ninth in Sunday’s Feature Race made me super proud for both the team and myself. We started in 20th and tried to have a clean race and not make any mistakes however, in the end I was disqualified but sometimes that is motorsport. We are going to keep working to get closer for Silverstone.”