After significant delays due to continuous rain in Spa, Alex Smolyar says he was a tad surprised – and concerned – to learn that Race 1 would take place, but admitted that it was “surprisingly good,” cheekily adding that he might now try “some impossible things, without being stupid” in Race 2.
After three formation laps in the rain, the field were forced to head back into the pits before Race 1 could start. Action eventually got started almost an hour later than scheduled, with three laps behind the Safety Car before a green flag.
Like most of the field, Smolyar was reluctant to make moves and bided his time before getting past David Schumacher for 10th in the closing laps.
“It was quite emotional at the start of the race,” said Smolyar. “Even before we started, when we were doing laps behind the Safety Car, it was hard to keep the car on track. It continued to rain even more, but the message came through to say that we would be racing, and I had a bad feeling to be honest, but in the end, it was surprisingly good.
“The first four or five laps were really, really tough. You couldn’t see anything down the straight to Turn 5 - you couldn’t even see the boards on the side. If there were opportunities to pass, I would have, but mainly I was just concentrating on driving.
“In the end, I was able to pass David (Schumacher) and get myself a point, which is good. It doesn't matter if I start P2 or P3, as long as I am in and around it for Race 2. If it rains again, then it is easier to be at the front because you get a cleaner track.”
Starting from second, Smolyar will have the chance to climb up the drivers’ standings in Race 2. The ART Grand Prix driver is fifth in the standings, 78 points off Championship leader Dennis Hauger, but only 19 off reverse grid polesitter Jack Doohan in second.
And after gaining some confidence in Race 1, the Russian feels that he can take a few more risks in Race 2.
“I know that Dennis (Hauger) is having a hard weekend so far, but the gap is quite big, and I think I am in the group who are fighting for P2,” said Smolyar. “In Race 1, I don't think I had to take risks as some people did, but in Race 2 I will give everything I can and maybe try some impossible things, but I won’t do anything stupid.
“We don’t want a penalty for Race 3, but I will definitely be more aggressive than in Race 1 to gain more places and hopefully win the race.”