DAMS made a superb GP3 Series debut at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain with a front-row lock-out and a podium finish propelling the French team into immediate title contention.
Jake Hughes impressively qualified on pole position for his inaugural GP3 start, 0.140 seconds ahead of DAMS team-mate Kevin Joerg and more than 0.3s faster than the best non-DAMS car.
After losing the lead at the start, the 21-year-old Briton ran a strong second throughout the 22-lap race to take a well-deserved rostrum finish on the 4.655km Spanish Grand Prix circuit.
From second on the grid, Renault Sport Academy member Joerg lost positions at the start, but produced a fine fifth-place finish to ensure double points for Le Mans-based DAMS.
Rookie Joerg added a seventh-place finish in the partially reversed-grid race two on Sunday morning – one place ahead of team-mate Hughes.
Fellow DAMS driver Santino Ferrucci qualified 16th for his GP3 debut and finished 15th in race one. He gained four places inside the opening two laps of race two and finished 11th.
The 17-year-old American survived a close call at the start of lap two on Sunday when he was pushed onto the grass at the pit exit – an incident for which his assailant was given a time penalty.
The results from the weekend leave Hughes and Joerg third and eighth in the championship standings while DAMS sit second in the Teams’ standings ahead of the trip to the Red Bull Ring, Austria, on July 1-3.
Jake Hughes (P2/P8) said: “I’m very happy with the way we’ve started the season. To be on pole for our GP3 debut is very satisfying. I lost the lead at the start, but I can’t be unhappy with second place. We learnt some things in race one, but unfortunately couldn’t put these into practice in race two due to being stuck in the midfield. But to come away from Spain third in the standings – only four points off the lead – is great. If we can keep this up in the coming races, we can fight for the title.”
Kevin Joerg (P5/P7) said: “Now my first weekend in GP3 is over and my general feeling about how things went here in Spain is quite positive. I was especially pleased with the pace we showed in qualifying, which is an early indication of the speed we have within the team. I need to work on executing my starts better and on my race pace for the coming rounds, but I finished in the points on both days and I can be quite happy with this.”
Santino Ferrucci (P15/11) said: “The team did a really good job from practice right the way through to the races and we were very well-prepared. I made a few mistakes in qualifying, but the car was very good. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to gain much in race one because of the start, but in race two I moved forwards on the first couple of laps and finish four places higher than I started. We can now look forwards to the next round at the Red Bull Ring positively.”
Francois Sicard, DAMS Managing Director, said: “To debut in a series as competitive as GP3 and not only lock-out the front row, but also score a podium, is a truly exceptional result. We have three very good drivers who have all delivered this weekend, but the result also shows that the working methods at DAMS are exactly what’s needed and this is very encouraging. We can see from the race results that we still have some areas in which we need to learn; especially with the starts and the set-ups, but as we gain experience in this category, we will improve. We had pole for our debut in Formula Renault 3.5 and Formula E previously, so to do the same in GP3 is fantastic.”