Gearbox issues behind Belén García's troubled weekend at Silverstone
The revelation of the opening W Series race in Austria was slowed down by technical issues in both the following rounds, with gearbox issues behind Belén García's difficult British GP weekend.
Spanish W Series newcomer Belén García certainly attracted the world's attention after her debut in the female-only championship in Austria, when she set the third fastest time in qualifying, battled throughout the race for the podium positions and ultimately finished fourth following a great recovery after the late Safety Car.
García – who is at her second full season in formula cars after a remarkable 2019 campaign in Spanish Formula 4 – impressed with her pace in W Series and, despite missing out on a podium at debut, looked like a strong contender for the front-running positions coming into the second race of the Red Bull Ring double-header.
Unfortunately, Belén was't able to repeat the same results into the second round, with a series of technical issues forcing the Catalan to battle in the midfield.
A strong vibration on her left-front wheel that found no solution after each session meant that she couldn't finish higher than ninth - as the 21-year old driver was still able to score solid points for the championship and headed to Silverstone in seventh place in the standings.
The problem, which initially seemed caused by a brake caliper, was back at the British GP to afflict García while she tried to learn the track. In the single 30-minute practice session on Friday morning, the vibrations were accentuated and the Scuderia W mechanics decided to change the steering knuckle on the front suspension and it worked.
Belén went out in qualifying and, while the steering problems were indeed fixed, a gearbox issue emerged.
Despite difficulties to engage the gears, García qualified in ninth place for Saturday's third round of the season. “We sorted out the steering, but qualifying was difficult because the car behaved very differently compared to free practice. The qualifying was for me as if I had started from scratch”, she explains.
The race was naturally a difficult one, as she was aware of the deficit on the straights due to the time lost in the upshifts. Miki Koyama – who ultimately retired – reported similar issues.
“It was quite a difficult race." – she recalls. "I started quite well, despite the fact that every time I changed gears I lost a lot of time and could not follow the others, even with the slipstream. I tried to push a lot in the corners to open a gap so that they couldn't catch me at the end of the straights. That meant taking risks, and I made a mistake that allowed Abbie Eaton to pass me. I held on, but I wasn't able to do more.” – she says, disappointed.
Nevertheless, García was tenth up until the final lap of the 30-minute race, which would have gained the young Spaniard another hard-fought point. Unfortunately, a contact with Jessica Hawkins at Turn 4 put her out of the race. The Brit would later receive a 20-second penalty for the incident.
"It's a shame because I would have scored a point for which I had fought a lot throughout the race. It was super difficult to hold on, but that's the way racing is." – Belén says.
"I want to compete in 'normal conditions' again, because in the last rounds I was also trying to minimize damage due to the problems I had with the car. I feel strong, but I have not been able to fight in the last two weekends because of these issues."
"I hope to get rid of these situations and show where I am, because this is not my position” – she concludes.
The next W Series round will be contested at Hungaroring, Budapest, as the all-female series will support the F1 Hungarian Grand Prix from July 30 to August 1.