M2 Competition’s Kush Maini moved into the top six of the Formula Renault Eurocup with a pair of useful points finishes at the Nurburgring last weekend, while Patrick Schott made a strong impression on his debut for the Brussels-based team.
Kush’s seventh and eighth-place finishes extended his record of consecutive points-scoring results to four in a row – his best run of the season – and maintained his status as the second-highest-placed rookie driver in the intensely-competitive series.
Practice went well for 18-year-old Indian, who was sixth-fastest in Friday’s afternoon session, and his strong form continued in Saturday morning’s opening qualifying session as he put his Tatuus fifth on the grid; just 15 hundredths of a second away from the front row.
A terrific start moved him up to fourth on the opening lap, but he finished seventh after a mid-race brake-bias adjustment caused him to suffer extreme rear-tyre degradation.
He qualified and finished eighth on Sunday, but significantly set the race’s fourth-fastest lap; the difficulty of passing at the Nurburgring – evidenced by the lack of overtaking manoeuvres throughout the field – preventing his progress.
New team-mate Patrick, driving competitively for the first time in three months, made an impressive team debut.
Setting the 12th-best time in practice, he repeated that achievement brilliantly in qualifying to take a career-best starting spot on the sixth row.
Sadly for the 18-year-old Swiss, he was eliminated from the opening race at the first corner when a rival turned in on him, leaving Patrick with no option to avoid a collision.
Secondary contact not only broke his right-rear suspension, but also injured Patrick’s hand, which would become problematic in Sunday’s race.
Having missed out on a potential top-10 grid spot when an incident elsewhere on-track forced a full-course-caution as he was on his fastest lap, Patrick qualified 16th.
Having driven through the pain barrier for 14 laps, the discomfort became too great with just three laps to go, forcing him to withdraw from a race that was due to give him a 14th-place finish.
The next round takes place in just a few days’ time at the Hungaroring, Hungary, with Lucas Alecco Roy rejoining the team to partner Kush and Patrick.
Kush Maini said: “I’ve moved up a spot in the championship, which is the big positive to take from the weekend, especially in a series that’s as closely-fought as this one, but I’m disappointed we couldn’t score some better results. I’d never driven at the Nurburgring before Friday practice, so I was pretty happy with the pace and very pleased to qualify fifth for the opening race and only 15 hundredths from the front row. I made a great start and was pretty comfortably in fourth, but I made a few errors and slipped back to seventh by the finish. Sunday qualifying was similar again with a very small gap to the front row, but that meant I started eighth. I got up to sixth, but I was pushed wide in the first few corners, dropped back to eighth and couldn’t make up any positions. We didn’t show our potential, but we’ll work hard to make sure we do at the Hungaroring.”
Patrick Schott said: “My first weekend with M2 Competition has been very positive. We’ve developed a good way of working very quickly, found some good pace in practice, and every change we’ve made to the set-up has improved the car. The pace in first qualifying was good and I was very pleased to get my best position in my Formula Renault career, but in the race, [Joao] Viera turned in on me – I guess he didn’t see me – at the first corner and I couldn’t go anywhere because I had cars either side of me, so we hit and I hurt my hand. In Sunday qualifying the top 10 was the target, but I got a full-course yellow on my best lap, then didn’t warm the tyres correctly for the last green-flag period, so was stuck in 16th. I made a good start and was running a consistent pace, but I was in agony with my hand – which was okay in qualifying because you only do a few laps at a time – so I had to stop. I’ll go to hospital to see if it is broken on Monday, but in any case, I’ll do the maximum to be ready for the Hungaroring.”
Elise Moury, Team Manager, said: “The results this weekend were disappointing because we were capable of so much more. Both drivers’ race pace on Sunday was extremely good with Kush fourth-fastest, but this is a track where overtaking is very hard, so he could not make any progress. Even in qualifying, he was less than two tenths away from the front row in both sessions, which shows how close things are right now. Kush had some rear-tyre graining too in Race One, which cost him pace. Patrick did a very good job considering he’d not raced for three months. It’s a shame that the contact in Race One not only robbed him of a potential top-10 finish, but also caused the hand injury that affected him throughout Sunday.”