Van Amersfoort Racing might not have added points to their Teams’ tally in the Feature Race after post-race penalties, but the Dutch squad is very satisfied it has taken a step forward in competitiveness.
Caio Collet has led the way for the team in black and orange recently, taking back-to-back podiums in Spielberg and adding a P4 finish in the Silverstone Sprint Race. He made a late-race charge through the pack in the Feature but ultimately lost his ninth place finish for forcing Ido Cohen off track.
Despite that, VAR Team Principal Tom Claessen says the team can be proud of the progress it has made with the team’s speed and performance levels lately.
“We are still working on the performance, as we know it's not an easy Championship, but we have to do it step by step, and we’re getting there,” Claessen explained.
“We still struggled a little bit in Qualifying again this weekend, which doesn't make the things easy, but we showed during the race we had good pace. We came from the 17th to P4 on Saturday and P17 to P9 today.
“Pace-wise, we are there. Caio is also I would say more focused than the beginning of the season. We've set some objectives and he is getting there and reaching them. Today, we had a good strategy as well with Tommy. We just gambled and pitted under the safety car a few laps before the end and he went from last to finish P11 on the road. So it’s been a positive weekend, but we need to focus a bit more on Qualifying.”
Tommy Smith also made an impressive comeback in the Feature Race, fitting the wet tyres with just a handful of laps to go and rebounding from P28 to 11th by the chequered flag, just over a tenth away from ending up in the points on the road.
While he was demoted to 25th in the end following track limits violations, Smith says he was very happy with his team and the decision on strategy that almost resulted in a charge back to points.
“Yesterday I made a mistake, I should have stayed with the slicks and it would have been a similar result to today. But it was actually quite a difficult race on the slicks, I struggled a lot with rear degradation and as soon as it rained, I was like we're gonna just try something. We made the right call and I nearly got points.
“My engineer and I were considering it and I was like, ‘let’s just do it’. The thing is, I'd never caught the Safety Car queue after pitting. I was coming through Stowe and the field was already coming out of the last corner, but it was a good race.”
Looking ahead to the rest of the month, Claessen says that the team will be working hard to keep the positive momentum rolling in Budapest and Spa-Francorchamps.
While the increased level of performances might have been nice earlier in the year, any upturn in form is welcome at this stage of the season.
“It's a good time. I would have would have liked it to happen earlier in the season, but it's never a bad time when it's positive momentum, that's always welcome.
“Budapest a track that even last year we did quite well at. Spa as well. Rafael is still improving, Tommy as well and we can’t forget that Caio scored 80% of his total points in the second part of the season last year, so hopefully this year it’ll be 90% in the last races.”