WTEC 2021. Not many Teams were ready to attend the first Free Practice of the season, but the session kept to it’s promise and delivered a first glimpse and insights on what to expect.
First things first. The fastest lap was set by Nihad Gluscic (1:13.422) and showed the second Marlboro driver having gained 0.01 seconds to last season, while Sandro Kapeller (Gulf) could drive his Radical 0.6 seconds faster around the Motorsport Park, compared to his performance in the former season opening.
While Gluscic’s time is still 0.6 seconds off last years pole, it was a technical innovation that made everyone gasp for air who witnessed the start of the sprint race. Using a new “double-clutch” made the Marlboro driver go from P5 on the grid to P2 at Turn 1, and underlied Marlboro’s efforts to be seen as a serious title contender in this years Championship.
Besides that, many Teams didn’t manage to get their drivers on the track for the first test session. And they may witness revenge on race-day, as Teams like Martini had the chance to sort out technical problems. Iwan Bremer missed the start because of problems with his Radio, and Alfonso Ruiz found himself on the grid without working force feedback in his Radical. Wile this reminds some of the problems Martini faced throughout the last season, it gave them a chance to sort out problems that other Teams might have missed in the final days before it’s getting serious.
As for Martini the same is true for Team Gulf, where Nathan Brumby missed the session, but Sandro Kapeller gained crucial insights by getting back on track. “I have accomplished the test program”, the younger one of the Gulf drivers said, “had my moments with the wall at T2, but the pace is there, we did pit-stop tests and noticed a lot of buttons on my wheel that might have to be labelled”. The only thing to worry for the Team is Gluscic’s start peformance. “That double-clutch system might give us a headache, and we will have to think of ways to get around it”.
Damian Gee and Francesco Cuscino gave their first appearance in the series and proved their competitiveness. Cuscino made it to P3 in the race with just a few practice laps in front, as he didn’t get ready at the start of the session. Damian Gee could be witnessed in a clean battle at the front, on pace with Gluscic througout the race, although he felt the track had been slippery and struggled to find grip.
After this first session, the drivers and Teams have two days off – time to gain time and sort out their problems before it is going to count, Sunday, November 7th, 20:00 GMT.