It has been a rollercoaster of a season already for Hitech Grand Prix, but Team Principal Oliver Oakes believes its strong performance in Spielberg was well overdue, having demonstrated pace across the opening seven rounds but not quite being able to convert that into title-contending results.

Immediately, the British team seemed to be well suited to the Red Bull Ring’s demands. Marcus Armstrong got the weekend underway with fourth in Free Practice, before Jüri Vips bounced back from P16 in the morning’s session to secure a spot on the front row in Qualifying.

In Saturday’s race, Armstrong was untouchable as the New Zealander breezed his way to a lights-to-flag victory. Meanwhile, Vips fought hard to get past several rivals to finish fifth at the chequered flag, having started down in ninth. As a result, both cars finished inside the top five in a Sprint Race for the first time since Monte Carlo.

For Oakes, the result should hopefully provide a boost of confidence to his drivers after a challenging start to their campaigns, which has seen mistakes that have proved to be costly in their Championship fights - particularly in Baku. Contact between the two left Armstrong out of the podium positions, whilst his teammate later found the wall and was forced to retire from the lead.

“I think everyone saw Baku was a bit of a wounder to throw away a one-two like that,” Oakes admitted. “Then, obviously we went into Silverstone with sort of high expectations, and it wasn't that it was a bad weekend, it was just a bit uneventful. We didn't quite get Qualifying right and then, although we had pace in the main race, we couldn’t really do anything with it because we’d kind of spread out by then."

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“It’s nice, since the moment we got here, we’ve sort of been strong and in typical F2 fashion, even if you are strong in Qualifying, it doesn’t always convert. I think Marcus (Armstrong) did a textbook job, he controlled the race – good start, very calm, managed the gap to Théo Pourchaire, he’s not an easy one to have breathing down you in your DRS for 30-odd laps. I think that was really good for Marcus, especially for his confidence to handle all of that.

“For Jüri, I just said to him that was one of his best races actually. To start where he did in ninth and get a great opening lap, placing the car well, being smart in terms of when to overtake and I think he did a really good job to get back to fifth. It was quite boring in the sense there was a big gap to Felipe Drugovich by then, but I think he did well. It’s nice to see him putting it all together. He’s been through a difficult time. It's obviously self-inflicted, but he needs to start proving himself now.”

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While Hitech were quietly confident that they had the pace to do the double in Sunday’s Feature Race, the rain threw a massive curveball that eventually derailed their plans. The frontrunners’ decision to start on wets backfired and consequently, Vips could only manage to scrape back two points in eighth, while Armstrong’s race ground to a halt three corners in.

Nevertheless, the Spielberg circuit has traditionally been a track that Hitech has performed well at across Formula 2 and Formula 3. Last weekend, Red Bull junior Isack Hadjar added a third victory to his name as he expertly managed the wet conditions to execute a near perfect Feature Race. Oakes puts down the team's successes in both Championships down to the preparation made to ensure it begins each weekend with its best foot forward.

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“Without giving away trade secrets, not that there is any, but I guess each team has their sort of DNA of how they prepare events and maybe for some tracks it suits one team's method of doing stuff more than another. I think in our case this year in particular, it's been really impressive. We've sort of been. strong across the board really at every track. There’s never any sort of silver bullet. It's kind of just a little bit of aura, everyone coming together with a good mentality and approach.”

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Although Hitech has demonstrated flashes of pace throughout the previous seven rounds, Oakes acknowledged that a run of mistakes and underwhelming performances from its line-up has forced it to abandon hopes of a Championship challenge this season. Currently, Hitech sits fifth in the Teams’ Standings, 40 points adrift of leaders MP Motorsport. Meanwhile, Armstrong and Vips are trailing Felipe Drugovich by over 85 points as the season heads into the final third.

“I think all of that went out the window a little bit when, without being harsh to them, the drivers were making a few mistakes for three/four races on the trot. Baku was obviously a big one, Jüri spun out in Imola and Barcelona. I’d say Felipe Drugovich has run away with it, and the others have tripped over a bit.

“Now, I wouldn't say the pressures off, but it's the fact of just going out there and doing a good job each weekend and seeing where you end up at the end of the year. In reality, I don’t think we're sort of focused on a Championship now.”