FRECA: Léna Bühler completes difficult weekend with P32 at Mugello
It was a difficult round for Léna Bühler at Mugello, still hampered by straight line speed. The Swiss racer moved up to P32 and now gets ready for the season finale at Monza in two weeks' time.
The sixth round of the 2021 Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine turned out to be a challenging one for Swiss racer Léna Bühler. The R-ace GP driver is at her series and F3 debut, after just one season in F4 in 2020, where she was often among the front-runners of the Spanish-based championship. Bühler, a promising karting star in Europe earlier in her career, progressed quickly through the single-seater ladder but, having secured a seat for her first full-season in the uber competitive FRECA, endured a character-building season. A testing crash ruled her out for the entire pre-season testing – and the resulting broken hand forced her to sit out also the season opener at Imola. With very limited testing and experience of the Tatuus T318 car, she had good races in Barcelona, Monaco and Zandvoort, scoring her first Top20 on the famous street circuit. Always better in the races compared to qualifying, Léna was often among the biggest movers as she managed to stay out of troubles and gained several positions. Coming off a good Valencia race 2, where again she moved up the order to finish P25, Bühler headed to Mugello – a track she had not driven on before and very physically demanding – with a difficult task to tackle, especially after issues in pre-event testing on Thursday, which limited her running time. In Race 1, Bühler managed to climb to P29, moving up 7 positions from her starting place. On Sunday morning, in a sunnier yet chilly day at the Tuscan Autodromo del Mugello, Paul Aron took pole position – just like on the previous day – ahead of freshly-crowned champion Gregoire Saucy and, on the second row, Dino Beganovic and Franco Colapinto. Léna Bühler improved her lap time by two tenths compared to Q1 but was P36, in a session interrupted by a red flag for the KIC Motorsport car of Jasin Ferati ending up in the gravel. At the start, Aron held off Saucy who had a good launch, but the 2021 champion eventually lost out second place to Dino Beganovic, in a Prema 1-2 after the second corner. In the huge 36-car field, many cars were temporarily in the grass and kicked up clouds of dust, but everyone managed to complete the first lap. Léna Bühler took a cautious start and remained close to Alexandre Bardinon throughout the opening stages. By the third lap, she moved ahead of rookie driver Arias Deukmedjian. Michael Belov passed Colapinto for fourth place, as the Russian continued to close in on Saucy. His charge, though, was temporarily halted by an off track on lap 7 at Turn 3, which gave Saucy some room to breathe. Gabriele Minì was also struggling to keep Vidales and Alatalo at bay, and the Italian ended up dropping behind the Prema driver, before having to pit for damages. Making the most out of the situation, Bühler moved into 33rd place and, with better pace than Bardinon, she continued to follow the FA Racing's driver under the second gap. The Safety Car was then brought out with 5 minutes left on the clock for the accident of Ido Cohen. The race went back to green with 2 minutes left and, while the positions were settled at the front with Prema drivers Aron and Beganovic leading, Saucy came under more pressure from Belov and Colapinto. G4 Racing's Belov had just managed to get ahead of Saucy and gain a place on the podium when the red flag was shown on the final lap: Jasin Ferati had crashed heavily on the main straight and the race was ended prematurely – with the classify being dated back to the lap before. Ferati was ok. Léna Bühler had climbed to P30, but the red flag demoted her to P32. Paul Aron took a stunning double-victory in Mugello, preceding Dino Beganovic – in his first podium of the season – and Gregoire Saucy, who took back P3 thanks to the red flag. Having started from ninth place, Hadrien David recovered to sixth. Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine will contest its final double-header in two weeks' time at the Monza. At the Temple of Speed, Léna Bühler hopes to end her learning oriented season with some more development, even though the Swiss racer has struggled throughout most of the second half of the season with straight line speed – which was particularly evident in Spa Francorchamps, Red Bull Ring and Valencia. Bühler has driven at Monza before, but she hopes to find a solution to the top speed issue in time for the season finale.