Stevens shines as Norfolk’s P1 Motorsport finish Formula Renault campaign on a high in Barcelona
- Credit: Archant
P1 Motorsport closed their Formula Renault 3.5 season off with their best performance of the year which helped lead driver Will Stevens secure fourth place in the championship for the Norfolk outfit.
As champion-elect Kevin Magnussen raced to a pair of victories and a Formula One race seat at McLaren, the Besthorpe team was determined to bounce back after two disappointing meeting.
'It has been a tough couple of rounds for the team and last time out at Paul Ricard we just didn't manage to piece together the weekend we had hoped for,' remarked Mike Henderson, P1's chief engineer. To compound things a mix up by race officials saw team-mate Matias Laine being handed someone else's drive-through penalty.
It was only after he had served the penalty and the race was over that it transpired that Laine's car had been mistaken for that of Oliver Webb, immensely frustrating for the rookie driver who had been heading for his best finish of the year
Qualifying at the Barcelona circuit saw Stevens push Magnussen all the way but just narrowly failed to take pole position from the 2013 title holder, while Laine lined up in 15th place.
Stevens – who is on the academy programme at Hingham's Caterham Racing – was unable to squeeze ahead of Magnussen on the run to the opening corner but a mid-grid melee allowed Laine to emerge in eighth before the safety car was deployed to clear the mess. When the race resumed Stevens tried hard to dislodge the leader but had to settle for his fifth podium of the season as consolation.
'This year's been up and down and things have not always fallen our way,' said Stevens. 'We have had five non-finishes throughout the season, which is not a good way to fight for a championship but overall the car feels really good and we are working really well as a team.'
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Laine was pleased with his best finish of the season, seventh: 'The start was good and I managed to avoid what happened on the exit of the first corner. After that, our race pace was good and I am pleased to pick up the points,' said the Finn.
A truncated second qualifying session restricted Stevens to fourth while Laine was even unluckier having to begin from 20th on the grid.
A demon pit stop for new rear tyres elevated Stevens to third and with it fourth in the final standings.
'Qualifying did not help,' added Stevens. 'Our main objective for the race was obviously to finish ahead of Nico Müller so we could secure fourth in the championship. It is good to close out the season with a strong showing at the final event.'
The solid weekend also helped the local squad finish sixth in the team's championship, while Laine rounded out his season 16th.