DAMS ends 2016 in style with Abu Dhabi GP2 victory
DAMS and Alex Lynn claimed a dominant victory in Abu Dhabi, round 11 of the 2016 GP2 Series (November 25-27), to end their campaign on a fantastic high.
From pole position on the Sprint Race grid, British racer Lynn simply drove away from his opposition; the 23-year-old taking the chequered flag by five seconds at the Yas Marina Circuit.
It was the third win of the year for the Williams Martini Racing Development Driver and the fifth of his GP2 career - all of which have been achieved with Le Mans-based DAMS.
Lynn had finished eighth in the Feature Race after starting ninth and running a long first stint on the championship's medium-compound slicks.
A sticking wheelnut caused a longer-than-expected tyre change and dropped Lynn behind his team-mate Nicholas Latifi, but he passed the Canadian with two laps to go to secure eighth spot.
Latifi, who had started 13th, made it double-points for DAMS in the Feature Race. He came home ninth after opting for a short stint on super-soft tyres and an early switch to mediums. The Renault Sport Formula One Team Test Driver added 12th in Sunday's Sprint Race.
DAMS finished fifth in the Teams' Championship while Lynn's superb season-ending weekend elevated him to sixth in the Drivers' points. Latifi concluded his rookie GP2 campaign in 16th.
DAMS now remains in the UAE for the official three-day GP2 post-season test at the Yas Marina Circuit (November 30-December 2).
Alex Lynn, P8/P1: "It's great to finish the weekend - and the season - on such a nice high. I think I was on for a solid fifth or sixth in the Feature Race, but lost quite a bit of time in the final part of the medium-tyre stint and then also with the unfortunate wheelnut problem at the pitstop. But P8 gave me pole for the Sprint Race. The team made a lot of improvements to the car overnight and things just went fantastically in the race. It's a great way to end the season."
Nicholas Latifi, P9/P12: "It's nice to be back in the top 10 and to reward the team with some points for all their efforts this weekend. The top six was possible in qualifying, but the brakes got too hot, which affected my pace. I went for the 'exciting' strategy by starting on the option tyres and ended up having a relatively clean, trouble-free Feature Race. Sunday was tough and I struggled for pace generally, so that's something for us to analyse in the coming days."
François Sicard, Managing Director: "The best possible way to end a season is with a victory and we've achieved this. We had some bad luck in qualifying, mainly with yellow flags when Alex was on his best lap, and ninth and 14th didn't reflect our pace. But both drivers were very strong in the races and scored points. Alex should have been fifth in the Feature Race, but lost time with an unfortunate issue at his pitstop, and that helped him to get pole and the win in the Sprint. A perfect way to end two years together."
DAMS increases points tally in Malaysia
DAMS driver Alex Lynn finished in a strong fourth place in the GP2 Series at the penultimate round of the 2016 season at the Sepang International Circuit (September 29 - October 2), while Nicholas Latifi fought back from early misfortune to take a top-10 result in Malaysia.
Both demonstrated promising pace during qualifying; Briton Lynn posting the sixth-fastest time and Canadian Latifi showing front-running pace before a yellow flag ended his chances of a top-10 grid spot.
Lynn made a good start and climbed to fifth by the end of the first lap and ran there for the first half of the race; the Williams Martini Racing Development Driver then making up another position with a superbly-judged overtaking manoeuvre on British compatriot Oliver Rowland later on.
Team-mate Latifi made a lightning start to climb from 12th to seventh, but a spin dropped him down the order and forced him to make an earlier-than-planned pitstop, which preceded a 14th-place finish.
Gearbox issues for Lynn caused him to lose ground at the start of race two and a lack of grip restricted him to 12th at the chequered flag, while Renault Sport Formula One Team Test Driver Latifi performed strongly to climb to tenth.
DAMS hold fifth in the Teams' Championship while Lynn and Latifi are ninth and seventeenth in the drivers' standings with season finale, in support of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, to go on November 25-27.
Alex Lynn, P4/P12: "Qualifying was messy with a lot of red flags and problems throughout, so while sixth wasn't exactly what we wanted, it wasn't a bad starting position for the Feature Race. We had a good consistent run to finish fourth, which is a good improvement; and the car felt positive, which is great. There are some questions as to what we feel went on in the second race; it wasn't an ideal result, but we'll look into everything to try and find out what is going on."
Nicholas Latifi, P14/P10: "Qualifying was definitely a missed opportunity; the red and yellow flags scuppered my chances of maybe finishing in the top seven. I had a really good start, but then spun off the track, which pretty much ruined my race as I flat-spotted the tyres. A top-eight result would have been possible without the spin. I managed the Sprint Race much better with no mistakes. We are still missing a bit of pace, so we have to analyse it and see why. Next is Abu Dhabi. We were fastest there in winter testing so hopefully we can end this season on a high."
François Sicard, Managing Director: "Race one was good for us, with Alex fourth and not far off the podium. Nicholas had a fantastic start and was up to seventh before he went wide and spun. It was disappointing, but there were positives. In the second race, Alex had a dogging gearbox at the start so lost momentum. Then he struggled to get the tyres up to temperature and lacked grip. We don't really understand why this happened; it wasn't due to the balance in the car, as this was good all weekend. Nicholas had a good second race to battle back to tenth; it's not where we want to be but there are good signs. Hopefully we can convert these into strong results in Abu Dhabi."
Points for Lynn highlight of mixed weekend at Monza for DAMS
DAMS driver Alex Lynn rounded off the ninth weekend on the GP2 calendar with an assured display and points in the Sprint Race from the iconic Autodromo Nazionale Monza (September 2-3), while team-mate Nicholas Latifi was demoted from eighth with a post-race time penalty.
Race number 250 in GP2 Series history was looking like a more complete performance from the DAMS pair when compared to the mixed fortunes they endured on Saturday.
A frenetic opening to Sunday's Sprint saw both Lynn and Latifi running their own clean race, picking their way through from 12th and 15th respectively to strong points-paying positions by the halfway stage.
After a mid-race charge, Lynn took a net fifth in a photo finish over the line, with a trio of cars just up ahead, while Latifi looked to have sealed eighth. Post-race, the latter was docked 20 seconds and demoted to 15th for failing to react within the allotted time to the deployment of the Virtual Safety Car.
The Feature Race on Saturday saw the duo hampered early on. Lynn was due to line up sixth on the grid but was forced into starting from the pit lane, leaving the Williams Martini Racing Development Driver with work to do. Latifi, having qualified 14th, was compromised by a flat-spot on his option tyres enforcing a change of strategy and a longer-than-planned stint on the medium compound rubber.
The Englishman responded to his setback, battling from the rear of the field through to 12th by the chequered flag. Renault Sport Formula One Team Test Driver Latifi reached as high as ninth after a string of incisive moves but fell away to 15th place as the Canadian contended with fading tyres and a badly-timed safety car which halted his charge.
Round 10 of the 2016 GP2 Series season will take place in Sepang (September 30 - October 2). DAMS are currently fifth in the Teams' Championship; Lynn lies eighth in the Drivers' classification and Latifi is 16th.
Alex Lynn, P12/P5: "In general, it was a bit of a disappointing weekend. We qualified seventh, which isn't what we'd want then we had to unfortunately start from the pit lane in Race One. We battled through to P12 and the chance at finishing in the top eight was taken from us. In the second race we had good pace - coming from P12 to P6 but from my side it's just a shame that with the speed we had we didn't follow through with the results we deserved."
Nicholas Latifi, P15/P15: "It was a bit of a disappointing one for us. In qualifying, I didn't get the potential out of the car. It would have put me around P8 where my team-mate was. In the first race, I flat spotted the option tyre early on which forced me to pit straight away - that was a mistake. I was forced to go much longer than anyone else on the medium tyre and struggled towards the end. I undercut a lot of people early on but it just became unmanageable and I slipped back. Race Two was much more complete. I made good improvements on the driving side and I moved forward which was great and got myself into the points before the penalty. There are things to analyse but we'll go from here."
François Sicard, Managing Director: "In Race One we had good pace until the safety car, which came at a bad time for us and Nicholas. It was going to be a good result. On Sunday, Nicholas did a good job coming through to P8 from P15. Unfortunately, he was penalised and lost out on points, dropping eight places for reacting too late to the Virtual Safety Car notification. It's a shame as he fought well for it. Alex performed strongly in the Feature event but with the long safety car period there was little time to progress further after starting from the pit lane. He got caught in traffic but his pace was strong. Without that, he could have finished fourth or fifth."