Wolverhampton’s Dean Smith enjoyed home success at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit this morning, Sunday, 10th July, with a well deserved second place finish during round eight of the GP3 Series – his second podium of 2011 lifting the Addax Team driver to within 11 points of the championship lead.
Yet again confirming his true front-running credentials in the FIA Formula One World Championship support category, the 23-year-old was delighted to be back on the rostrum and especially so on the morning of the British Grand Prix with his best result yet in GP3.
The 2009 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award Winner, who is facing a continued struggle to be on the grid at all with severe budget restrictions meaning he’s competing race-by-race, also scored with eighth place in round seven on Saturday, 9th July, during a peculiar, rain-affected outing. That result was all the more impressive considering he was racing with an unidentified suspension problem.
“I’m really pleased to be back on the podium, especially at Silverstone in front of the British Grand Prix crowd”, he said, “We’ve taken two points finishes this weekend and we’re not far behind at all in the championship which is great for me and everyone at Addax. Whether we’ll be back out for the next rounds at the Nurburgring, as ever we’ve just got to wait and see.”
Dean’s weekend didn’t begin as smoothly as he would have liked and in qualifying on Saturday, 9th July, he had major problems with the rear of the car which led to an uncharacteristic 25th best time leaving a huge amount of work to do to even get close to the points-paying top eight in race one.
As the cars circulated the 5.8-kilometre track on the green flag formation lap ahead of round seven, a heavy burst of rain led to a quandary for drivers and teams as to whether or not they should run with slicks or pit for treaded, wet-weather rubber.
Dean’s car was set-up for dry conditions so he decided to take up his position while almost two thirds of the grid dived into the pits before the start. During the first half of the race the Addax star did struggle for grip with low tyres pressures and stiff suspension making his Dallara a handful in the greasy conditions. Nonetheless he held a placing just inside the top 10.
As the race entered its final third though the pace did improve and Dean was able to attack more, the highlight overtaking move being a superb pass up the inside into the flat-out Copse Corner to take eighth position – and with it the ‘reverse grid’ pole position for round eight.
Even so, he wasn’t happy with the overall feel of his car and was sure there was something amiss at the rear. Post-race this was confirmed by the Addax Team mechanics who discovered a breakage in the suspension.
Getting away from pole position well at the beginning of race two, the 2005 Formula BMW UK and 2009 Formula Renault UK Champion fended off his pursuers through the first couple of turns but as he defended the inside into Brooklands, while under attack from James Calado, this compromised his line and gave Lewis Williamson an opportunity to pass around the outside.
Although unable to wrest the lead back, Dean posted strong lap times throughout and ran a very comfortable second all the way to the chequered flag after pulling well clear of the three-car battle over third place.
“I’m pleased with second place but we did go the wrong way with set-up”, said the Briton after race two, “We took a chance but the car was too stiff and the tyres only lasted a few laps – the rears had gone within three laps and then the fronts went so I didn’t have much grip, we had really bad graining. The mechanical issue messed us up really, we were chasing it nearly all weekend.
“I knew after the first race there was something broken on the rear, without that we would have been in the top six in qualifying for sure and probably on the podium in race one as well. When you look at the problems we’ve had this year with lost points through mechanical issues though, to be within 11 points of the championship lead isn’t bad at all at the halfway stage of the season.”
Germany’s Nurburgring will host rounds nine and 10 of the 2011 GP3 Series a fortnight from now, 23rd/24th July.
Provisional 2011 GP3 Series Driver Standings (after Rd8):
=7th Adrian Quaife-Hobbs & Dean Smith, 18pts
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