CEO Bruno Michel looks back at an eventful fifth round of the 2021 season and picks out his key topics from Spa.
Michel looks at how Jack Doohan’s exceptional weekend and Dennis Hauger’s drop in form has affected both the drivers’ and teams’ title fights and discusses the bravery of Juan Manuel Correa.
JACK DOOHAN ON THE RISE
Jack Doohan came to Spa with a 63 point-deficit to Dennis Hauger in the Standings. He left Belgium having massively reduced the gap to 25 points, thanks to a pole position and two wins. He impressed the field and definitely put pressure on his title rival, whose weekend was oddly poor.
Doohan was strategic in Race 1, starting from P12 and not risking anything for just a few points, which would have possibly allowed Hauger to move up into points finishing positions. It also meant that with 12th place the Australian started Race 2 from reverse pole. From there, he earned a second win in 2021 while Hauger took only two points. On Sunday, Doohan grabbed another victory, sustaining huge pressure from Victor Martins. He pocketed 44 points in total – 38 more than Hauger.
With only two rounds left in the season, it will be very interesting to see if Doohan can keep his momentum through next weekend in Zandvoort.
READ MORE: Hauger plays down title deficit, insisting that PREMA have ‘got the pace to beat’ Doohan
PREMA RACING VS TRIDENT
What a difference a weekend makes… PREMA Racing struggled in Belgium, taking only eight points in total, which is really unlike them. They didn’t have the pace, especially on Friday and Saturday. In Race 3, Dennis Hauger produced a strong and mature drive to move from P14 on the grid to eighth at the flag, in treacherous track conditions. That was great to watch, but most likely, just a consolation prize for a tough weekend.
Meanwhile, Trident were pretty dominant with a pole position, three podiums – including two wins and a 1-2 finish - and a fastest lap! The gap to PREMA was 88 points ahead of Round 5, it is now just 16 points, with two rounds to go. Trident have gained a psychological edge over PREMA with no time to regroup or to properly analyse the data ahead of the next event… Having said that, the reigning Champions have the experience to bounce back quickly. The Teams’ Championship title fight has never been this close!
READ MORE: ‘Hopefully we’ve destabilized PREMA’ – Novalak says Trident have gained momentum in the Teams’ title fight
ROUND 5 HIGHLIGHTS
I was very pleased to see Lorenzo Colombo take the win in Race 1. The last time it happened, he was unfortunately stripped of his victory following a time penalty. The entire Campos team was heartbroken. They and Colombo kept their head down and were able to cross the line first again in Spa. This time, they got to keep their win. On the year of Adrian Campos’ passing, it means even more than any other past victories.
It was also nice to see MP Motorsport return to form following a pointless weekend in Budapest. Both Victor Martins and Caio Collet scored in all three races, with the Frenchman snatching a front row start in Qualifying. Next up on the calendar is the team’s home event where they’re expected to know all the tricks from the track.
Finally, I’d like to highlight the performances of ART Grand Prix’s Alex Smolyar and Frederik Vesti. Both took points in all three races, with the Russian claiming another podium finish – his first since his victory in Race 1 in Le Castellet. As for Vesti, he seems to be back to his usual consistency, keeping close to Doohan in the Championship and keeping his title hopes alive. It will be tough, but we saw last week that anything can happen until the final race in Austin!
READ MORE: Doohan reveals the strategic play behind his Race 1 finish as he looks to cut Hauger’s title advantage
RAIN, RAIN AND MORE RAIN…
We usually like the rain to come at some point over a race weekend to spice things up even further… But it definitely overstayed its welcome last week! I don’t recall an event as wet and as cold as this one. At least, not from recent memory. It was a tough weekend for the drivers on track, but also for the teams, with their mechanics getting drenched in the pitlane. I must say that the drivers have raced exceptionally well in these dreadful conditions and all three races were quite entertaining and clean. Hopefully, the sun will pay us a visit next week in Zandvoort. It’s about time we see our cars on slick tyres!
READ MORE: Collet admits Race 1 penalty ‘was fair’ and says he wants to reward MP Motorsport with a podium in Race 3
THE BRAVERY OF JUAN MANUEL CORREA
I’d like to say a few words on JM, on his return to Spa as a racing driver. Like many others, I am blown away by the courage and tenacity it took him to jump back in a racing car on that track. It would have been fantastic to see him fight at the front, but the sole fact that he was there and raced his heart out is already amazing. Like the rest of us, he had Anthoine in his mind the whole time…