At Monza earlier in the season, Hong Kong’s Matt Solomon showed that he was undaunted by competing on one of the most historically significant circuits in Europe, by putting his #19 Double R Racing Dallara/Mercedes inside the top ten during practice, a position he was able to convert to top ten pace in qualifying.
Coming to perhaps the most famous international circuit of them all – the famed Nurburgring in Germany – Solomon was looking to recover his Monza form, however the popular Asian driver was once more forced to concede track position to many of his rivals who had intimate knowledge and considerable experience on the 3.629-kilometre, 11-turn Grand Prix circuit.
Despite the challenge he improved with every session and typical of his 2015-form, forged through the field in all three races, although he was again forced to retire whilst battling to break into the top half of the field after contact with another driver, something which has been a big feature of the 2015 season – one of the toughest seasons on record.
“It was another weekend learning the circuit through practice and qualifying, so a little bit challenging to start off with, but nothing new in that regard,” Solomon explained. “The races though were a different story, we were actually quite strong and I managed to move through the field, picking off a number of cars from the start of each race. In race one I got a great start and took five cars off the start, but going into turn five the car ahead of me braked a lot earlier than normal and I tagged him with the nose of the car. There was no structural damage to the car, just a hole in the nosecone but it wasn’t 100% after that and the car ended up going away from me with the setup we had, and I could only manage 28th.”
“We had a much better setup for race two, and I was able to come right through the field, I think I gained around nine or ten places before I came up to the tail of Julio Moreno at the chicane. I took him into the left-hander, but on the right-hander his front left hit my right rear and I nearly ended up on my head. Sadly despite all the great gains I had to come in because it broke the floor on my car. In the last race I had a few issues off the start, but eventually got going and went from 29th on the grid to 19th.. it was an eventful race, but for me quite a boring race because there were four Safety Car periods which lasted quite a long time, around 10-12 laps in the end, so too much time circulating slowly. It was good to end on a high note, with a result in the top 20. Without the Safety Car interventions I think again we would have been well inside the top half of the field.”
The final round of the season will see the world’s toughest breeding ground for rising young open-wheel talent return to the German circuit of Hockenheim (16-18 October), the scene of Solomon’s second start in the series. During the May event, the Hong Kong teenager ran strongly during the races after an incident in changeable conditions in qualifying saw him forced to start rear-of-field for much of the weekend.
With a season of experience under his belt, Solomon is hoping to end the season on a high note with the series returning for the first time to a circuit on which he has competed previously, ahead of an announcement about the end of the 2015 season and his plans for the 2016 calendar year.
Ben Potter

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