Monza, 25th March 2013

Gelael stays cool to finish all three races at Monza

The first races are over for Sean Gelael in his attack on the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, and he can be very happy with three strong finishes on the legendary Italian Grand Prix circuit of Monza.

Sixteen-year-old Gelael, the youngest and least-experienced driver in the field, took a best finish of 14th among the 30 hotshots from around the world. He added 16th and 18th places in the other two races as he measured up for the first time in such exalted company.

One of the best features of Sean’s performances was the fact that he climbed through the field. His best position on the starting grid was 25th, and he was upset in the second qualifying session when officials showed him the black flag, requiring him to come into the pits, because of going straight on and missing one of the chicanes. But then the officials decided they were mistaken and that it should only have been a black-and-white warning flag.

This cost him valuable time, and almost certainly contributed to his Double R Racing Dallara-Mercedes racing car not getting a better grid position on the high-speed Monza circuit.

With long straights and tight chicanes, there was plenty of overtaking in the first race, not least from Gelael. With just seven race weekends in cars under his belt, he won a frantic battle with reigning British Formula 3 National Class champion Spike Goddard of Australia and Italian Formula 3 Championship front-runner Nicholas Latifi of Canada to take 14th position.

Heavy rain fell on Sunday as temperatures plummeted. Still, Sean belied his lack of experience by keeping going as many other drivers spun off the track, and his lap times suggested he would have almost scored an exceptional points finish had he been able to start from further up the grid.

“This has been a big experience,” he said. “I was disappointed in qualifying, especially when I had the wrong flag signal. But in the first race I went from 27th to 14th and I have to be happy with that.

“I had never driven in anything as bad as the conditions on Sunday! It was really bad to have this on my debut in Formula 3, but I was getting better and better with my speed. The problem was you can’t see anything to overtake. The final race was all about survival. I even went into the gravel at one point because I couldn’t see where I was going.”

Double R Racing team principal Anthony ‘Boyo’ Hieatt added: “Sean is the youngest driver in the field and the least experienced. We are trying to improve him gradually, allowing him to gain experience without too many incidents.

“There were a lot of accidents in front of him in the first race but he maintained his concentration, and his best lap was quicker than he went in qualifying, which is unusual and shows how he is learning. Everything is new to him – he had never had to push hard on cold, gripless tyres before this weekend. Where he has raced in Asia the tyres just don’t get cold!”

Gelael’s next race weekend is at Silverstone, the home of the British Grand Prix, on 12th-14th April, where he will be pushing to improve further and get close to scoring points in the top 10.

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