Juan Manuel Correa brought points home for Van Amersfoort Racing in the team’s home event at Zandvoort but believes a better result was on the cards. The VAR driver says that the Dutch race weekend was one of their best so far in 2023 but comes away slightly disappointed that it was only P10 in the Feature Race.
He started the weekend with plenty of momentum and qualified a season-best seventh on the grid. From there, the team expected to take a healthy points haul away from Zandvoort but things didn’t pan out as envisaged. A curtailed Sprint Race was followed by a dramatic Feature event, one in which Correa says promised so much more.
“There was a lot more on offer. I think we deserved more,” he said after stepping out of the car. “We had the pace for more and actually I’m very disappointed with the result. It’s quite painful to have so much pace and finally have a better Qualifying and then to feel like the race is taken away because I really feel like what happened wasn’t on me. To me, I think it was a racing incident with Oliver Bearman. The Safety Car came at the right moment for the guys that boxed later so we got screwed there in two different scenarios which sucked.”
After his opening lap contact with PREMA Racing’s Bearman and the 10-second time penalty that went along with it, Correa says the hardest part of the race was just keeping the car on the circuit. Plenty of others fell by the wayside after their own dramas, allowing Correa to make back places he’d have otherwise lost.
“There was no grip, and it was still wet in parts of the track, it was really tricky. To be honest, I was happy to just keep it on track and I think everyone was when cars were going off left and right.”
From there, the VAR driver was untroubled, passing PHM Racing by Charouz’s Roy Nissany with a brave pass off the dry line into Turn 1 just past the mid-point of the race.
Reflecting on the weekend overall, Correa says that he is hopeful that the team’s speed isn’t a one-off and that Van Amersfoort will be able to replicate their smooth start to the weekend, a factor he indicates was crucial for their performance.
“This is a track I’m comfortable around, but I think we found a good window for the car during the weekend, and we found it when it mattered in Qualifying. That’s the difference for a weekend like this. That’s what we’ve been lacking the whole season and this weekend we found it, and that’s a massive positive. So at least we can take that. Hopefully it’s a trend and we keep that for the last two rounds. It was a good weekend from Qualifying onwards.”
Looking ahead to the penultimate Round of the 2023 campaign, Correa says it will be a totally different ball game from the narrow old-school twists and turns of Zandvoort. Monza’s long straights and high top speeds mean that while track position isn’t everything, being in the right place at the right time in Qualifying could make or break your race weekend.
“I like Monza. I think it’s going to be quite a tricky Qualifying because of the tow. Everybody will be fighting for that spot on the road that gives the best tow. That won’t be fun but Monza’s a track I enjoy and know well. I’m hoping to have a better weekend than here and show the speed we have.
“I think Monza’s one of those tracks that if you get a good lap in Qualifying with a good tow, you can jump positions even if you don’t have the pace. That’s why it’s a tricky track to have a clean weekend at because a lot of things can happen. We’re still very focused on that approach, we want to be strong in FP and carry that into Qualifying.
“I think it’s a circuit that even when you’re the fastest car on track, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be P1 because of the tows but then in the races, you can show that over the course of 20-30 laps and finish where you deserve to be.”