SMP Racing driver Robert Shwartzman finished fifth in Race 1 of the fourth FIA Formula 3 round, which takes place on July 12-14 at Silverstone, the UK.In the Friday qualifying session, Robert was sixth fastest as there were some difficulties with finding the car balance. "We could not find the proper settings for the car," Robert Shwartzman commented. "We had two sets of new tires, and only with the second one we managed to find more or less the right balance. It still was not perfect, but at least the car was drivable.”
In Saturday's race, the Russian started from sixth position and kept it until the 18th lap. A virtual safety car period, which was from 7th to 9th lap, and the safety car, which appeared on the track on the 11th lap after one of the drivers stopped at the start and finish line, played a big role. The restart was after five laps, and Robert immediately increased the pace. Soon he passed the rival ahead, got close to fourth place, but did not have time to fight for next position as the race finished. Shwartzman was classified fifth.
“At the beginning of the race, it was difficult for me to drive fast, because for some reason the front tyres did not warm up properly,” Robert Shwartzman said. “I lost a lot of time relative to my rivals, and when the tires started to work more or less, the virtual safety car mode was declared, and the tires cooled down. I had to warm them up again. Then I started to catch up, but a safety car appeared again and for some reason stayed on the track for five laps. I do not really understand why so long, because the car was removed in two laps. And these extra laps, which I had to drive behind the safety car, eventually helped me, because in the last lap I got close to Leonardo Pulcini. I think I could have fought, perhaps even for the podium. And I could have driven the best lap and needed just 0.3 seconds for it. We were just unlucky, although our pace was high.”
SMP Racing driver Vitaly Petrov, the mentor of Robert Shwartzman also commented on the results of the first race: “The track at Silverstone has always been famous for its special surface, and the new asphalt has become even more influential for tire wear. Therefore, it is very important to understand how you will operate the car in order to preserve the rubber. We did not qualify like we could have, we did not show the speed we were capable of. During practice sessions, Robert did not expect that the rear tires would be so worn out, and could not setup the car in the end. This played a role in the qualifying round. We analyzed it and were focused on the race, we intended to compete for at least the podium. But the safety car spoilt our plans. It is not clear why it was on the track for so long. If you start to observe, Jüri Vips, who won the race, practically worn out his tires even before the safety car appeared, and other drivers were neck and neck with him. At the same time, Robert kept the rubber to the finish. He beautifully overtook Christian Lundgaard in the fight for fifth place and immediately approached the top four. I am pleased with how Robert drove the race. We need to do our best in the next race and regain the lead of the championship."
Race 2 of the fourth rounds starts on Sunday, July 14 at 09:25 Local time.