William Alatalo brought home his highest finish in Formula 3 yet with P6 in a chaotic Sprint Race around Spa-Francorchamps, but the Jenzer Motorsport driver was left ruing what could have been after an error at the restart cost him a shot at a potential podium finish.
Starting down in P13, he took full advantage of two early Safety Car periods to slice his way through the mid-pack and up into sixth by the time the red flag brought racing to a halt at the end of Lap 8. Navigating his way during the rolling start proved to be a tricky task, as Alatalo dipped his rear wheels into the gravel on the exit of La Source, dropping him down to P10 and undoing much of his earlier work.
Feeling disappointed despite the positive result overall, Alatalo expressed his frustration as his error left him unable to completely capitalise on his stellar pace around the circuit.
“Quite rubbish, just could have been much better. It's my own mistake, after the red flag restart I just went wide in Turn 1, lost the car and lost four positions there. I climbed back from P10 to P6, which is of course good, but could have been a few positions better.”
Known for its abundance of overtaking opportunities, the Finnish driver showed no signs of hesitation or rustiness after the summer break as he dared to dip and dive his way through, going late on the brakes to bravely outmaneuver his rivals.
Dueling all the way to the finish line, Alatalo saved his best moves till last with a series of spectacular moves on the final lap – swooping out and under to get the better of David Vidales into La Source before dispatching Brad Benavides with help from the slipstream along the Kemmel Straight.
“First of all, it was difficult to keep the temperature in the tyres, so they were a little bit too cold for the start. Then after that, you don’t have DRS for the first three laps, so you have to fight a bit more. Once I went off then got back in, I got the hang of it, and I think my speed was quite good. I could overtake quite well, but you definitely have to fight here quite a lot.
“There’s a long straight which you have to prepare for to have a good straight-line speed and then just fight for all you can – I think I made a good move on the last lap overtaking two guys.”
Adding five points to his tally, another performance like this in Sunday’s Feature Race could see Alatalo secure his biggest points haul yet – having achieved seven points in the six rounds prior and he’s optimistic that he can put it all together to go even better next time out.
“Looking back at the races, we haven't really been there on the points as we are now, and I think it's a good result for the team. Also, there’s a race tomorrow and we will try to be in the points again and it gives us good momentum for the next races. We’ll do even better in Zandvoort and Monza!
“I’ll have to have a good start and after that, hopefully we’ll have good speed to fight and try to overtake every lap. It’s going to be a long race around Spa but need to have good speed overall and try to move forward – top five would be a great result and we will at least fight there.”