Maxwell still positive after frustrating weekend at Paul Ricard
By Andy Gray
Aussie racer Thomas Maxwell endured a frustrating weekend in the latest Formula Renault Eurocup round at the Circuit Paul Ricard in the south of France.
With a grid penalty being carried over from the previous event at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, the driver from Darwin, Northern Territory knew he would face an uphill battle if he was to score points.
After struggling to find pace in practise and qualifying, Maxwell was resigned to starting in 29th position after the grid penalty was applied. Knowing the task that Maxwell faced, the team at Tech 1 Racing decided to tune the car to make it racey, trimming down force from the wings which would increase top speed but also hamper tyre life and car handling. Maxwell delivered in race 1, making up seven positions in the first lap around the 5.8km Le Castellet circuit. The talented 19 year old continued to pick off positions one-by-one, eventually crossing the line in 13th place, only 2.5 seconds away from a points finish.
The team made some more changes ahead of race 2 where Maxwell would start in 22nd position on the grid. Unfortunately track conditions were a little unpredictable and the changes didn’t pay off as handsomely as race 1. Despite this Maxwell raced well and fought his way through to finish in 17th position.
“We struggled to make the new tyres work and get a good balance. Although the car felt reasonable, it lacked the raw speed,” said Maxwell, “We struggled all weekend and despite the changes we made, the car stayed nonreactive and lacked speed.
“I really enjoyed race one and it was action packed the entire way through the race. We had decent race pace and I was able to hustle it and make good progress. It is just a shame about the penalty, otherwise we could have made it into the points.
“Race two was more difficult as the changes we made just didn’t pay off, but importantly we picked up another race finish.”
“It was a difficult weekend, a rather frustrating one in fact,” summed up Simon Abadie, the Tech 1 Racing team manager. “We lacked speed and despite all the changes we made with the drivers, the level of our package stayed the same throughout the meeting. The cars’ handling was good, but quite simply they weren’t quick enough.”
Thomas’ next outing in the car will be the next round of the Formula Renault NEC, the Northern European Cup, at the Nurburgring on September 15th, before the Formula Renault Eurocup moves on to Spa-Francorchamps the following weekend.
"There are always areas to improve, we’ll sit down and work out where we went wrong and how to improve next time. I’ll be working super hard to find more in myself and hopefully be more competitive with my team mates” said Maxwell. “We’ll keep working together so that the team can deliver the fastest car possible, and we can contest the last few rounds with positive results.”
“Spa is my favourite circuit and I have good memories there from the British F3 championship last year, where I picked up my best qualifying and had one of my strongest race weekends of the year.
"I’m also really looking forward to the NEC round at The Nurburgring as it will give us some important time running the car at a track we’re already familiar with.”
"There are certainly a lot of positives to take from this last weekend and plenty to aim for in the remaining rounds.”