Racing Point: Lucas and Daniele narrowly short of scoring

The BWT Racing Point F1 Esports Team came close to scoring points in two of the three races in Event Three after a challenging round of the F1 Esports Pro Series.

Lucas and Daniele both fell narrowly short of scoring points in their home races at Silverstone and Monza respectively, but the pairing – alongside Shanaka – were able to fight their way up the order in all three races, demonstrating their racecraft.

As has been the case throughout the 2020 F1 Esports Pro Series campaign, overtaking has been at a premium and has put a greater emphasis on securing a good grid slot in the new-for-2020 Q1, Q2 and Q3 format.

At Silverstone, Shanaka was blocked by a rival and it compromised his qualifying, while Lucas came ever so close to securing a Q3 berth.

A difficult opening lap meant Lucas had to drive cautiously to avoid contact at Turn 4 and he lost several places. Lucas then put his foot down and was able to climb back up the order and was running in P12 at the one-third distance before switching from his Medium tyres to a set of Softs.

Team-mate Shanaka ran a long stint to two-thirds distance, pitting from P4 on lap 10 of 15 and returned in P18 behind Lucas. The Scotsman carved his way back up the order to join a train of cars chasing for the Top 10 places and just missed out on points.

Spa proved a challenging race, with Lucas and Daniele qualifying in P18 and P19. Lucas was then caught up in an incident through no fault of his own at the Bus Stop chicane at the end of the opening lap, which damaged his front wing and resigned him to P20 after a stop to replace the wing.

Daniele was able to execute a long-running stint on the Medium tyre and led at the halfway point. Firing in a then-fastest lap of the race, Daniele pitted and returned to the track in P16 having made up three places on and off track.

The Italian then charged to P14 after a thrilling last-corner overtake to underline the race pace of his RP20.

Shanaka re-joined the line-up for the finale at Monza alongside home racer Daniele and the Italian came so close to points. Narrowly missing out on Q3 earlier in the day, Daniele started P13 but a technical glitch cost him a place and put him on the backfoot.

Not to be deterred, Daniele would again run a longer stint on the Mediums but maximised the Soft in the late stages to climb the order, taking P13 after post-race penalties were applied to his rivals.

Shanaka had looked set to go from the back of the grid to the fringes of the Top 10 as he ran the joint-longest stint of anyone on the Soft tyre, only to pick up a late penalty for track limits that limited him to P15.

Lucas Blakeley: “I’m disappointed not to have scored points in this Event, despite all our hard work. Silverstone was a mixed bag, qualifying in P13, which was very close to Q3 in the end. We know where we lost out – these things can happen. I lost a lot of places at the start as I was boxed in at Turn 4 by someone divebombing down the outside and it was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We recovered to P11, which was a great comeback, and we were so unlucky not to score points. At Spa, we just couldn’t put it together in qualifying. The start was great, we gained two places from P18 and started to chase for more, but we got held up with cars stopped at the apex in front of me at the Bus Stop chicane. I couldn’t avoid it – and I ended up damaging my front wing. It was a massive shame as the race pace had felt really strong. It’s been a difficult few days, but we’re looking to turn the chapter and come back stronger in the last event.”

Shanaka Clay: “Overall, it’s been a tough Event. We expected to score points, but we definitely know where we need to improve ahead of the final round. We’re certainly better than the qualifying results we had – we were capable of Q2 and perhaps Q3 across all the drivers. We missed out at the critical moment, but the positive is that we have almost a month to work on things and improve for next time. We’re consistently showing that we have very strong race pace, so we just need to find those little margins in qualifying so we can put it all together and get the results we think we’re capable of. We’ve seen this year that it’s extremely difficult to recover after a tricky qualifying, so we want to hit the ground running in the last Event. I’m confident we’ll do so.”

Daniele Haddad: “Today was a shame as my Q1 effort showed how much pace there was – I was in P6 and I had saved the tyre. I was then looking strong at first in Q2, but the lap wasn’t quite perfect for Q3 – we missed out by such a small margin. We started P13, and I tried to do everything I could to get into the points but we ended up in P11 before the penalties were applied in the field. We lost out at the start due to a glitch, I lost a place, and it put me on the backfoot. That glitch proved very costly when the DRS train at Monza is so crucial. I’m unhappy with my performance at Spa, we didn’t qualify well and it was very difficult to make up places, despite the race pace we showed. The important thing across my two races is that the pace is clearly there, but things aren’t falling our way in qualifying. Hopefully, the luck will change in our direction, and we can have a strong end to the season in Event Four.”