Silverstone-based Formula 3 team Hitech GP came within 0.2 seconds of claiming a famous podium finish on its debut weekend in the FIA F3 European Championship at Hockenheim in Germany on Sunday, 18th October, with a superb top four finish for Alexander Sims in the weekend’s final race.
On the pace from pre-event practice, Sims was well on course to secure a headline-grabbing rostrum finish in the last of the event’s three contests at the wheel of his Dallara-Mercedes but unfortunately missed out when a pass for second place resulted in a slip back to fourth.
Although unable to hit back due to the appearance of the Safety Car, which remained on track to the chequered flag on lap 18, his fourth place, added to a top five result in race one on Saturday, 17th October, underlined the stunning competitiveness of the new Hitech GP team on its bow in the world’s most hotly contested and hard-fought F3 category.
“What a fantastic weekend”, reflected Hitech GP team manager David Hayle, “We intended to arrive at Hockenheim and be at the sharp end, and we knew with Alexander if we could qualify well there was every chance of some really strong results.
“Right from opening practice, we proved we had the pace and the guys in the team did a fantastic job with the set-up. Alexander was, obviously, as quick as ever and he did a very professional job all weekend. Finishing on the podium would have been a dream on the team’s debut in FIA Formula 3, but we’ll take a top four on our first weekend against some of motorsport’s biggest and best teams.”
Lapping within just half a second of the outright pace in the first free practice session, Sims went on to qualify an excellent fifth on the grid for the opening encounter – only 0.4 seconds away from pole position. Although edged back to seventh early on, he fought back strongly and after moving into the top six on lap six, Sims broke back into the top five on lap 14.
Race three, though, was the undoubted highlight with the 27-year-old scything his way through from ninth on the grid into the top three on the first lap. Even though ultimately missing out on the podium, the strong performance confirmed Hitech GP is very much a genuine FIA F3 contender.
“After such a strong debut in the championship, we’re all even more determined to be on the pace from the off at the start of the 2016 season to mount a consistent challenge”, added Oakes, “We’re hopeful of announcing the first of our drivers for next season before the end of the year.”