F3 Basil Shaaban enjoys a stellar drive at the Norisring
2009 FORMULA 3 EURO SERIES
Norisring, rounds 5 and 6 - June 27th-28th
For immediate release
Monday, June 29th 2009
BASIL SHAABAN’S STELLAR DRIVE AT THE NORISRING ENDS IN DISAPPOINTMENT
· Shell-backed Lebanese driver placed 11th and crash-affected 19th in Germany
· Frenchman Bianchi and Germany’s Vietoris win action-packed races
NORISRING (Germany): The Arab world's leading Formula 3 racing driver, Basil Shaaban, left the Norisring with a bitter-sweet taste, despite finishing an excellent career-best 11th overall in the first of the weekend’s two races in the prestigious F3 Euro Series and putting in a stellar performance to rise as high as fourth in a safety-car hampered second race.
At the wheel of his Prema Powerteam Dallara Mercedes-Benz F308/309, Shaaban finished 11th in the first rain-interrupted race on the 2.3-kilometre circuit on Saturday and a mere 0.608 seconds behind Marco Wittman and the top 10.
“Race one was good fun and another strong showing. But race two, while being a milestone performance in its own right, left the team and I feeling disappointed,” added Shaaban. “I managed to manoeuvre my way up to sixth position from 11th at the start and then fought my way into fourth position by one-third distance.
“By two-thirds, I had slipped down to seventh position – we believe because I was using too many engine revs on the downshifts. This weakened my chance to attack and defend my position under braking.”
Shaaban was never under threat after this stage and secured the eighth-fastest lap time and sixth quickest lap sector times.
“But then, four minutes before the end of the race, the third safety car came out and brought the whole field back together. I made a small mistake at the restart and braked a few metres late defending seventh place into the turn one hairpin. To avoid smashing into two cars ahead of me, I took avoiding action and that put me into the wall two laps from the end. I cannot describe my feeling of disappointment. I was on track for an historic top seven or eight finish in the F3 Euro Series.”
Shaaban was actually classified as 10th in the overall standings for race one when Prema Powerteam colleague Stefano Coletti was excluded from third position for a dramatic post-race physical altercation with championship leader Jules Bianchi of the ART Grand Prix Team. Race stewards decided, however, not to promote subsequent drivers in the general classification.
A mass collision forced five drivers to retire after the first start of race one in a dramatic day’s action. “I had some good battles fighting my way through the field, overtaking four cars,” enthused Shaaban.
Race one victory eventually fell to Bianchi, with Britain’s Alexander Sims in second position. Twenty of the original 27 starters completed the race.
Christian Vietoris moved into second position behind Bianchi in the F3 Euro Series championship standings by securing victory in the second race on Sunday. It was the second Sunday success of the season for the 20-year-old German, with Jean-Karl Vernay taking second and Bianchi finishing third.
Practice makes perfect
Shaaban had finished 13th in final practice on Friday, a mere 0.592s behind the quickest driver. Inclement weather conditions hampered progress in the build to qualifying, however, and it began to dry to create a “lottery”, according to the Lebanese.
“I ran as high as 11th mid-way through the qualifying session, but it began to dry a lot towards the end,” he added. “I was one of the first drivers to reach the chequered flag at the end of the session and was classified in 20th.
“For sure, I still lack a bit of experience and confidence in wet conditions on street circuits, but my wet performance was better than last year in any case. I was not too disappointed with only half a second between my time and sixth position, proving again just how competitive the F3 Euro Series is this year.”
Next stop on Shaaban’s F3 Euro Series race programme will be the seventh and eighth races of the 20-race series at Zandvoort in Holland on July 17th-19th.
Shaaban heads to the Netherlands full of confidence after the ongoing potential he showed again at the Norisring.
“There are 14 races to go and I am making progress all the time. My performance this weekend, especially during the second race, proved how strong I can be in this world-class championship. We have to take the positives and lessons from this experience and fully-apply them for the coming races to secure the result we deserve. I can’t wait for Zandvoort.”
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