Arden Motorsport driver Frank Bird got his 2019 Formula Renault Eurocup Championship off to agood start at Monza in Italy this weekend where the Cumbrian-born teenager claimed a superb top eight position in the opening race.
The 19 year old originally from Penrith, fresh from a trio of successful sorties into the world of stage rallying, gradually upped his pace throughout the four practice sessions held in the wet on Thursday to end up tenth fastest in the Be Wiser Insurance, Hager, Fuchs Silkolene and Frank Bird Poultry-backed car.
Eventually getting some dryer conditions, Frank was inside the top eight in the Collective Tests on Friday to boost his confidence ahead of the opening qualifying session on Saturday where he ended up ninth out of the 22 starters and on the fifth row of the grid.
Despite a poor start, a calculated drive in the dry conditions saw him eventually cross the line in eighth place to score his first points of the season and in doing so, replicated his result of last year at the historic track in the province of Lombardy.
With the unsettled weather continuing into Sunday, hopes of improving were dashed when Frank crashed out of second qualifying which handicapped him with a lowly grid position for race two. The race itself was interrupted by a number of safety car interventions meaning Frank couldn’t progress through the field as he’d have liked so at the flag, had to settle for a disappointing 14th place.
Frank Bird: “Not a bad first weekend to start off the season. Q1 was OK as I qualified P9 and onlya few tenths off the pole which I was quite pleased with. Race 1, I made a bad start and got boxed in at turn two, dropping down to 14th but after that had some good battles and kept chipping away to get back up to P8. Q2 didn’t go to plan, I made a small mistake in the wet conditions and crashed the car which wasn’t ideal. In the race I had to start right near the back and the race started under the safety car because it was too wet. I think we only got two laps of racing which was a shame, so I ended up finishing 14th. Overall a decent weekend, I showed some good pace and to get a top ten finish in race one was a good start to the season. Thanks to the team for all their work, our sponsors and of course my dad. Now onto the next one at Silverstone next month.”
Paul Bird, Team Owner PBM: “Frank has driven well all weekend, he qualified in a good position for race one and eighth place was a decent effort, but it just didn’t happen today. The off in Q2 put us on the backfoot and the safety car interventions ruined the race. Being critical, he needs to qualify better and communicate more with his engineer as I felt there was a couple of missed opportunities. Hopefully, we can improve at the next round at Silverstone in front of our home crowd.”
2019 Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup Calendar
|12/14 Apr||Autodromo Nazionale Monza||Italy|
|10/12 May||Silverstone||Great Britain|
|31 May/2 Jun||Circuit Paul Ricard||France|
|12/14 July||Red Bull Ring||Austria|
|26/28 July||Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps||Belgium|
|30 Aug/1 Sep||Nürburgring||Germany|
|27/29 Sep||Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya||Spain|
Copyright-free pictures courtesy of Dutch Photo Agency.