Hype Energy eForce India came away from the second F1 Esports Series live show with a podium to celebrate and deep in the battle for third place in the Constructors' Championship.
It was a night of mixed feelings, however, as the team could have snatched a maiden win, only for it to slip from its grasp in cruel circumstances.
Competing on the Paul Ricard circuit, at Silverstone and on Spa-Francorchamps's hallowed tarmac, the team produced a series of battling performances, competing at the sharp end of the grid and creating a lot of promise for the final round of the championship, when Hype Energy eForce India will aim to defend their position in the standings.
Qualifying in France was a damp affair, the weather calling for full wet tyres. Marcel Kiefer qualified in P4, with Mads Sørensen lining up in P12. The German, who scored the team's first podium in China in the first live event, had a busy race, battling with Daniel Bereznay in the opening stages before ultimately finishing fifth. Mads briefly led the race, courtesy of an alternative strategy, but was ultimately denied his maiden points by a track-limit penalty that put him in P12.
Later in the evening, another qualifying session marred by changing weather saw the Hype Energy eForce India team produce a brilliant performance. Fabrizio Donoso Delgado, returning to the car, qualified in P2, with Kiefer exactly one row behind in P4. The race, however, was one of missed opportunity: Donoso took the lead with a great move on championship leader Brendon Leigh on the Hangar Straight, only to be assigned a five-second penalty for speeding in the pits, ultimately turning into a further 15-second penalty that relegated him to P14. Marcel Kiefer took up the team's lead mantle, however, battling with Sauber's Salih Saltunc before ultimately being at the receiving end of a collision. The German was still able to claim P3, his second podium of the season.
The final race of the evening saw Fabrizio Donoso get off to a good start from his starting position of P3. The Chilean star cleared Frederik Rasmussen at the pit stops and was on his way to a sure P2 before a controversial moment with Joni Tormala which resulted in a three-second penalty for Donoso, relegating him to P7. Kiefer suffered damage in the opening stages, eventually losing ground and finishing outside the points.
The results leave Hype Energy eForce India one point off third place in the championship with the final live show, featuring four races, including a double-points season finale in Abu Dhabi, on November 16th and 17th.
Fabrizio Donoso #88
"I'm a bit frustrated about our performance tonight. Our pace was much stronger than in the first event: sadly I made a mistake in Silverstone that cost me the whole race and maybe a victory. We are appealing the Spa results, which could well turn into a podium, but we can look at it as a good result as we've been very competitive. I wish I could have got more points out of tonight but I am confident we can bounce back in the final event."
Mads Sørensen #95
"It was a bit of a mixed day for the team, with some strong results but a few opportunities missed. In the end of the day, we are in a solid position in the championship which is our main objective. I was happy to make my debut in the series in France. Qualifying in the wet didn't really go my way as I made a mistake on my final flying lap; I started in P12 rather than in the front rows, which compromised my race. I had really good pace but everyone in the midfield was really bunched up in a train and it was impossible to make up any ground."
Marcel Kiefer #24
"Coming into the second event we had really different expectations about the challenge ahead, having seen where all our rivals stand. It was important to bring home some points for the championship so to finish the first race in P5 and the second one on the podium was a very good way to start the evening. Unfortunately, qualifying didn't go to plan in Spa and I had to start from a low position. In the race I got front wing damage and it was very difficult to come back from there. Some positives and some negatives tonight, so we have scope to improve in the final event."