Ralph’s ultra-competitive pace goes unrewarded
After enjoying a superb month of July that saw him claim his maiden GP3 Series win in Austria, Ralph Boschung had a tougher weekend at Hockenheim, which played host to the fifth round of the season on July 29-31. Despite showing very competitive pace once again, the Swiss ace was not able to increase his 48-point tally in Germany.
Ralph found himself on the back foot from the qualifying session, though he came very close to claiming a career-best result. Having sat third fastest after the entire field completed their first run, the 18-year-old was prevented from improving his mark on his second set of Pirelli tyres when he encountered traffic on his final flyer. The mishap meant the Koiranen GP driver started Saturday’s Feature Race from outside the top 10 for only the first time this year.
Lining up 14th on the grid, Boschung enjoyed one of his trademark starts and was running in ninth by the end of the opening lap. Determined to pursue his recovery, the Champery racer was quickly all over the back of Steijn Schothorst.
On Lap 3, Ralph lunged on the inside of the Dutchman at Turn 8 but the pair’s late braking put them under pressure from a charging Nirei Fukuzumi in the next sequence of corners. Trapped in between the Campos Racing and ART Grand Prix cars, Boschung got his front wing damaged in the squeeze while his two opponents collided.
Now at the wheel of a car with poor aero, Ralph could not help going wide at the next corner and was then rammed at the back by team-mate Matevos Isaakyan. The incident further dropped Boschung down the order, with the Swiss ace needing to pit for repairs.
Having re-joined the fray 27 seconds behind the pack, Ralph put the hammer down, lapping quicker than the front runners to erase the gap over the remainder of the 23-lap contest. He managed to overhaul Alex Palou in the closing stages to cross the finish line in 15th position.
If Saturday was bittersweet for Boschung, his Sunday would prove to be even more frustrating, as his Sprint Race only lasted a single lap. Starting from 15th, Ralph once again made a rocket of a getaway to vault himself up to ninth through the opening corners. Unfortunately, he then lost his front wing at the Turn 6 hairpin following contact with Trident’s Artur Janosz. While Boschung managed to limp back to the pits, he was not able to continue.
Despite this challenging weekend in Germany, Ralph occupies a strong seventh position in the Drivers’ championship, while Koiranen GP is third in the Teams’ standings.
After a very busy July schedule of four rounds in five weeks, Boschung will now be able to recharge his batteries during the traditional summer break that precedes the second half of the GP3 Series campaign.
“The Hockenheim weekend was frustrating because we clearly had the pace to challenge for the podium,” said Boschung. "The root of my problems lies in qualifying where I was on pace to set the second or third fastest time until I hit traffic in my last attempt. Everything then snowballed from there.
“Regarding the incidents in the Feature Race, I was squeezed in between two cars and had nowhere to go and ended up with a damaged front wing. At the next corner, Matevos simply could not avoid me. It’s obviously regrettable, but we were able to discuss it calmly as team-mates afterwards.
“As for the Sprint event, I did not apply enough pressure on the brake pedal ahead of the hairpin. I wanted to avoid locking up but eventually made a mistake so would like to apologise to Artur and Trident.
“Despite this tough weekend, I’d rather focus on the positives. Once again, we were very fast and Koiranen GP team continues to work extremely hard to develop the car. A massive thanks to them for their tremendous efforts.
“As usual, I would also like to extend a warm thanks to the Valais-based building company CP3 and Patrick Polli, Moderntimes Hotel, Platinum Fighter Sales from Los Angeles, and PARC. Finally, I’m extremely grateful to the members of 'Club 50' for their unwavering support and loyalty.”
Coming up next on Ralph Boschung’s programme is the iconic Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, with the sixth round of this year’s GP3 Series serving as a curtain raiser to the Belgian Grand Prix (August 26-28). The Swiss ace will have to drop three places on the Feature Race grid after he was penalised for the collision with Janosz.
Image copyright: GP3 Series Media Service.