For Hong Kong’s Matt Solomon, the Portimão round of the 2015 FIA Formula 3 European Championship signaled a return to ‘work’ in the Double R Racing Dallara, after a four week summer sabbatical where the teenager had an opportunity to relax and catch up with family and friends back in Asia.
FIA F3 European ChampionshipLike the pre-season tests at Valencia and Silverstone, and the mid-season test at Monza, Portimão gave the team a chance to gain valuable data ahead of Solomon’s debut on the southern Portugese circuit, and the results were promising, the opening session on Tuesday morning a highlight with Matt well inside the top half of the field, and just eight tenths off the quickest time with a stunning 1:39.262.
Frustratingly for Solomon, the team were unable to unlock any more pace ahead of qualifying with little forward progress from fresh tyres, forcing three starts from the tail of the field, although Solomon put his newly found European F3 experience to good use, charging through the field in each race to finish strongly in the 32-car field.
“In race one I had quite an uneventful race and moved up to be 21st at the end, which I was quite happy about, said Matthew. “But in race two I managed to get from 28th up to 18th, but I misjudged a move going into the hairpin and tangled with Callum Ilott which was disappointing because I think we would have finished a little higher, and that would have been a pretty good result considering where we started. We had good pace in the final race too, and I managed to move from 28th up to 19th, however I was handed a drive-through penalty for leaving the circuit at turn one which I think was a little bit harsh given that I didn’t gain an advantage in the overall lap, but hey, I made a mistake and got penalised for it.
FIA F3 European Championship“It was a very up and down weekend that had the potential to go much better. Whatever the reason is, we lost a lot of pace in qualifying, so I think that’s one area we really need to focus on. Everyone else gained time on the new tyres, but we didn’t really gain much. We really need to find some pace in the car and pull it all together, because I believe we certainly had the pace to be well inside the top 15. From my perspective I was happy with my performance in the races, and how I was driving, so that was definitely a positive.”
The famed Nurburgring circuit in Germany will play host to the penultimate round of the championship in just over two weeks (25-27 September), followed by a return to Hockenheim for the final round of the championship in mid-October (16-18).
Ben Potter

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