TEAM NEWS: The Carlin team demonstrated blistering pace in Bucharest today, on the first day of track action at the Romanian round of British F3. In a session disrupted by numerous red flags, four Carlin drivers qualified in the top six. Alberto Valerio heads the team, setting a stunning time with just two minutes to go. Sam Bird, who set the second fastest time in practice earlier in the day, will line up on the second row in fourth, just ahead of team mate Niall Breen in fifth and Maro Engel sixth.
The day started off wet for the Carlin F3 drivers, all five taking to the track for the first time with wet tyres. As the rain subsided, and the track dried out, Engel, Bird, Breen, Valerio and Moraes all pitted for slicks. On a drying track, Engel posted the second quickest time, ahead of team mate Moraes. Sam Bird was the next Carlin driver in fifth place, followed by Valerio in eighth. Niall Breen had somewhat of an eventful session; the young rookie was involved in an incident early on and completed just three laps.
The weather brightened for the second practice session of the day and with a dry track the times tumbled. Sam Bird topped the timesheets for the majority of the session and was the first driver to break into the 1.14s. Bird would remain in the top three for the remainder of the session, consistently improving lap by lap and finished the session second, with team mate Maro Engel just 0.056 seconds behind. Alberto Valerio also improved his times significantly and finished the session sixth ahead of Niall Breen who made the most of his second session of the day in eighth. Mario Moraes meanwhile finished the second practice 17th.
In a qualifying session marred by four red flags, the Carlin drivers struggled to put in a clear lap. 21 year-old Brazilian Alberto Valerio timed his best lap to perfection, putting in a stunning 1.11.841 in the dying minutes of qualifying. With just one and a half minutes remaining, the fourth and final red flag came out, brining qualifying to a premature end and depriving the Carlin drivers the chance to improve further.
Second placed man Alberto Valerio was delighted with his qualifying result commenting, “I’m very happy, this is my best performance in British F3 and I have to thank Carlin for all their hard work, the team have worked very hard to get this result. I had a bit of good luck with the red flag at the end, having just managed to put in a clear lap before the session ended“.
Sam Bird, who put in an impressive debut on his first street circuit said, “I’m pleased, this is my highest ever qualifying spot in British F3, but I’m also a little disappointed, I think I could have done a quicker time with just a few more laps. The track is great, very challenging, there’s lots of hard, late braking and you’re always doing something in the car – there’s lots of fast chicanes. I think it’s going to be an interesting weekend.”
Team Principal Trevor Carlin was delighted with the team’s efforts adding, “This is a fantastic result. Every lap was an improvement. The numerous red flags and traffic were definitely a problem and I think held all the drivers up, Maro seemed to be especially unlucky. But as is the case with all streets circuits, it’s the same for a lot of teams and drivers. Four cars in the top six is brilliant though and I think today is the result of some great team work.”
The team will be back on track for qualifying two at 8.15 local time and will take their positions for race one at 11.55.