DAMS recorded their maiden GP3 Series victory thanks to a commanding performance by Jake Hughes at the fifth round of the 2016 championship at Hockenheim.
Starting the Sprint event from pole position, the 22-year-old Briton lost the lead at the beginning of the race, but re-took the top spot halfway through the second lap with a well-judged move.
Hughes was untroubled thereafter, setting the fastest lap and pulling out a 2.6-second lead by the chequered flag to claim the first GP3 victory for himself and for DAMS, who are contesting their inaugural season of the Formula 1 support championship.
American Santino Ferrucci ensured two large helpings of points for DAMS as he finished fourth on Sunday. The Haas F1 Development Driver moved from ninth to fifth on lap one and made up more positions as an early ‘virtual safety car’ period ended.
Saturday’s opening race had featured a double-points finis h for Hughes and Ferrucci in eighth and ninth; the pair climbing brilliantly from 12th and 16th on the grid during the 23-lap race.
Kevin Joerg qualified 19th,but the Swiss driver was another to show excellent progress in the pair of races. He climbed to 14th by the end of Saturday’s encounter and then made up further ground to claim 10th place on Sunday.
The points scored by DAMS at Hockenheim helped the Le Mans-based outfit climb to fourth in the Teams’ Championship. Meanwhile Hughes and Ferrucci have climbed two places each in the drivers’ standings to sit sixth and 13th. Joerg is 15th overall.
Four rounds remain in the 2016 series with the next event taking place at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in support of the Belgian Grand Prix on August 26-28.
Jake Hughes, P8/P1, said:
“It feels fantastic to get the first win for myself and for DAMS in GP3. I made a bad start and lost the lead, but once I got back in front, it was plain sailing. The car has had great speed all weekend in race trim and it enabled me to recover from P12 to P8 in Race One, which helped me to get the reverse-grid pole. We still have issues with unlocking the tyre performance in qualifying and this is something that’s compromised our weekend a couple of times. We’ll work to get on top of this before Spa, but the win gives us a huge lift.”
Santino Ferrucci, P9/P4, said:
“The weekend started very well with P5 in practice, but unfortunately we couldn’t switch on the tyres during qualifying so that limited what we could do. I made a great start in Race One and was on course for P7 before I was hit off the track near the end and dropped to P9. Race Two was great and I have to thank my engineer for telling me exactly when to ‘go’ the moment the virtual safety car period ended because I was able to make up mor e places. I couldn’t quite hang on to a podium spot, but P4 is my best finish and the race pace was strong.”
Kevin Joerg, P14/P10, said:
“It’s been quite a disappointing weekend. At the last round we made a good step, understood the issues we’d been facing, and translated those learnings into practice here. But in qualifying the pace wasn’t quite there, which put us on the back foot. The races were pretty good as I gained lots of places early on, but the tyres lost a lot of grip towards the end of each race and that left it difficult to maintain pace and positions. We’re pretty sure we know how to cure that issue though so the next races should be good.”
François Sicard, Managing Director, said:
“We’re delighted to have added GP3 to the list of championships in which we’ve won races. Jake fully deserved his victory, especially after early contact at the Red Bull Ring robbed him of a win that should ha ve been his, and Santino is now showing all the qualities that we knew were there. Both were very good at tyre management this weekend, which is crucial in this series. We are well aware that it wasn’t a perfect weekend and that we need to work hard to unlock the pace of new tyres in qualifying, because that’s something which has left us unable to realise our full potential in races this year. But we will work hard and I’m sure we can have a strong end to the season.”