Defensive masterclass earns Correa season-best P5 in Austria Sprint Race
At Round 6 hosted by the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain, Juan Manuel Correa had recorded a DNF during the mixed conditions Sprint Race and finished just shy of the points with P11 in the Feature Race.
During a chaotic 30-minute qualifying session in Austria, in which drivers jostled for free air on track, it looked promising for Correa as he held onto P9 across the first two runs. Unfortunately, by the time the third runs had been completed, he’d dropped to P16 and at the end of the session, was P14 on the timesheets.
The Sprint Race
A drying track always presents a unique challenge for a field of drivers and the Sprint Race in Austria was no exception. Whilst most of the grid played it safe on wet tires, the American-Ecuadorian driver took a gamble with slicks. It paid off, and when much of the field – apart from Jak Crawford who also started on slicks, and Zane Maloney who stayed out on wets – pitted to change tires during two early Safety Car periods, Correa was elevated from P14 to P2.
Upon the restart, Maloney held the chasing pack behind allowing Crawford and Correa to escape with several seconds in hand. The first driver to be released was Victor Martins and he had the bit between his teeth, closing on Correa and making a move on Lap 14. The Van Amersfoort Racing driver would then come under increasing pressure from Clement Novalak. Correa fended off his advances on Lap 17 but had to concede the position on Lap 18, and Isack Hadjar quickly followed Novalak through. In the closing laps, Correa kept a charging Roman Stanek at bay to secure his best finish of the season with P5.
The Feature Race
Having started the race from P14 once again, Correa dropped a place on Lap 1 and one further position on Lap 5, leaving him in P16 ahead of his pit stop. Once he’d completed his stop, he re-joined the race in P20 but once others on the alternate strategy pitted under a late race Safety Car he was up to P11. With eight laps remaining on the restart, Correa’s older soft tires were no match for the fresh super soft rubber of the cars behind, and he eventually fell back to P18 at the flag.
Round 8 of the FIA Formula 2 Championship gets underway at Silverstone Circuit, England (7-9 July).