F3 Basil Shaaban pleased with progress at Oschersleben
2009 FORMULA 3 EURO SERIES
Oschersleben, rounds 9 and 10 – July 31st-August 2nd
For immediate release
Monday, August 3rd 2009
ARAB WORLD’S BASIL SHAABAN PLEASED WITH PROGRESS AT OSCHERSLEBEN
· Shell-backed Lebanese driver finishes as high as 12th in German races
· F3 Euro Series leader Bianchi and Vietoris share glory in Germany
OSCHERSLEBEN (Germany): Abu Dhabi-raised Lebanese Formula 3 driver, Basil Shaaban, was pleased with the progress he made during the ninth and 10th rounds of the 2009 F3 Euro Series at the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben on Saturday and Sunday.
The outcome was a major boost for Basil, especially after the setbacks he faced two weeks before in the championship rounds at Zandvoort in the Netherlands. The Prema Powerteam driver qualified in 23rd position for the first race, despite an ill-handling car, but he managed to finish 15th in race one and improved to seal 12th position in the second race at the remote German circuit, near Magdeburg.
“Finishing 15th in race one was not bad considering I started from 23rd,” reflected the Arab world’s leading F3 driver. “We made the car’s handling a lot more predictable for the race, compared to qualifying, although there was still some work we could do before the second race. It was also important in regaining the confidence I had lost in the car after the large accident I experienced at Zandvoort, which was not helped by the way the car was behaving in qualifying!
“It is very difficult to overtake at Oschersleben, but I again managed to gain some places at the start of the second race and maintained a respectable race pace. We clearly made another step forward from the difficulties I faced in qualifying,” added the Dallara Mercedes-Benz F308/309 driver.
“I know I could have still improved in places to extract a few more tenths of a second out of the car, but we also went a little too far on the set-up change for race two. We will test at Oschersleben tomorrow (Tuesday) and that will give us a good opportunity to learn a little more.”
Shaaban’s 23rd-quickest lap in qualifying for Saturday’s opening race was just 1.5 seconds off Pole Position, underlining the quality of the field in the F3 Euro Series.
“Fridays have been tough for me lately in terms of my fortunes,” admitted Shaaban. “I was getting sudden amounts of oversteer across the circuit and this costs lap time. It also does not inspire confidence to attack and reach the limit everywhere, which is especially critical in such a competitive championship as the F3 Euro Series.”
Frenchman Jules Bianchi clinched his fifth F3 Euro Series win of the season in the first of the weekend’s races and extended his championship lead to 18 points over race two winner, Christian Vietoris, who finished the race in seventh position on the road but inherited the victory due to post-race officiating.
Frenchman Jean-Karl Vernay holds third position in the points’ standings, while Shaaban’s Prema Powerteam colleague, Stefano Coletti, holds seventh after sealing seventh place in the 22-lap opening race and a penalty-affected second overall in Sunday’s longer 10th round of the series.
Twenty-one of the 25-car field, including Shaaban and Coletti, were handed a 30-second penalty for yellow flag violations during an action-packed second race. Coletti had, in fact, taken a dominant victory by over 10 seconds on the track, but fell back to second because of the penalty. Shaaban was fortunate not to lose his race position because of the penalty.
“It was a very tricky situation for us drivers as well as for the race director,” said Shaaban. “Our regulations contain specific criteria for determining if we’re driving too quickly when a yellow flag is raised for an incident, and thus endangering the safety of the marshals on the scene. In this case, with the flags coming out in the first laps of the race, most of the drivers did not meet those criteria, even if we did make an effort to slow down at the flags.
“Unfortunately, that cost my team and team-mate a superb and well-deserved victory. Hopefully, we can find a clearer solution to avoid this situation in the future.”
Shaaban and the F3 Euro Series field now head to the Nurbürgring in Germany on August 14th-16th for the 11th and 12th rounds of the 20-race series.
“I’m back in the top half of the field with Sunday’s result,” added the Lebanese. “Now we must keep up our progress to reach the top 10 and higher in the second half of the championship. This is our continued target and our aim for the Nurbürgring.”
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