F3 Basil Shaaban disappointed by Zandvoort showing
2009 FORMULA 3 EURO SERIES
Zandvoort, rounds 7 and 8 - June 17th-19th
For immediate release
Monday, July 20th 2009
ARAB WORLD’S BASIL SHAABAN DISAPPOINTED WITH RESULTS AT ZANDVOORT
· Shell-backed driver finishes 16th and 18th after multiple setbacks in Holland
· Frenchman Jules Bianchi leads F3 Euro Series by 17 points
ZANDVOORT (Netherlands): Abu Dhabi-raised Lebanese Formula 3 driver, Basil Shaaban, was disappointed with his results in the seventh and eighth rounds of the 2009 F3 Euro Series at Zandvoort in the Netherlands at the weekend.
The Prema Powerteam driver finished 16th in the first race, after starting from the back of the grid, and was then classified in 18th position in the second race after being taken off the circuit at the second corner of the first lap.
“I was hit and pushed off the circuit just after the start of race two,” revealed Shaaban. “The car was damaged, but I was able to rejoin the race in last position. I fought my way back to 18th, despite the fact the car was not handling very well. It’s something I must take in my stride, as this happens in racing, and just focus on the next steps forward.”
Shaaban, the Arab world’s leading F3 driver, was hoping to build upon his impressive top third performance in the prestigious Masters of F3 at Zandvoort held five weeks earlier and to claim his first championship points of the season. But an accident in practice and a difficult car thwarted his challenge for the top eight.
“I’m certain my practice accident and the little off I had at the same corner in qualifying, not only put me on the back foot for the weekend, but also knocked my confidence in the car,” he added.
Jules Bianchi of the ART Grand Prix team extended his lead in the F3 Euro Series to 17 points over Christian Vietoris of the Mücke Motorsport team by scoring maximum points at the weekend, taking a clean sweep of pole position and victories in both races. Bianchi became only the second driver ever to do so in an F3 Euro Series weekend since the top-eight reverse grid was implemented for race two in 2006 - this year’s Formula One title contender, Sebastien Vettel, of Red Bull is the only driver to have achieved the feat before when he was racing in the 2006 F3 Euro Series.
Practice crash for Basil
Shaaban’s pre-race preparations suffered a major setback when he crashed 20 minutes into Friday morning’s 150-minute practice session. “The conditions were dry, yet spitting a little rain, and I was on slick tyres,” said the Lebanese. “But, following a big snap oversteer, I went off at the second quickest corner on the circuit, trying to push before the serious rain came and I had a massive crash into the barriers.
“The fact that I walked away unhurt is a testament to how important the seatbelt, helmet and modern F3 safety equipment are, and to why speeds are only justified on a race circuit, added the UN World Youth Ambassador for Road Safety and ambassador to the UAE’s national Salama Road Safety campaign.
The Abu Dhabi-raised driver’s skilled team made swift progress to rebuild the car during the afternoon qualifying stint, but Shaaban was again unable to coax a stable handling balance from his Dallara Mercedes-Benz F308/309. With this instability causing another minor off at the same corner he crashed at in practice, Shaaban and his team undertook in-depth analysis that evening to rectify the problems before the first race. Shaaban eventually qualified in 26th place and was forced to start the first race from the rear of the grid.
The Lebanese and his Prema Powerteam now head to the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben on July 31st-August 2nd for the ninth and 10th rounds of the F3 Euro Series, which will take Shaaban to the mid-point of the season.
“Our return to Zandvoort was very challenging, and it really tested my mental toughness,” admitted the Arab athlete. “I am glad I went through this hard experience as it has only made be stronger. We’re now looking forward to a new opportunity at Oschersleben, to give our maximum and fight towards the front of the field again.”
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