The recent Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit De Catalunya-Barcelona was the setting for 20 year old local Thai racer Sandy Stuvik’s first ever weekend in the competitive GP3 series. Racing alongside Formula 1, the GP3 series is one of the top feeder-series to the pinnacle of motorsport. Being in the same paddock as the Formula 1 teams, all the young drivers get a sniff of what life would be like as an F1 driver.
“Being this close to F1 is a really special feeling. You feel that this is the real-deal and you are closer than ever to the life-long dream of becoming a Formula 1 driver,” commented Stuvik.
Sandy Stuvik drives his Status GP car during the opening race of the Formula GP3 series at the Circuit De Catalunya-Barcelona Spain, Saturday, May 9. (Photo/GP3 Media)
Early on Saturday morning, May 9, the rumble of the GP3 cars woke up the circuit and they were the first cars on track for what would be a busy day. Sandy qualified in 18th place, with a lap time of 1.36.534. Pole position was taken by Luca Ghiotto with a 1.35.469, just over a second ahead.
Later in the afternoon, with Formula 1 qualifying finished, the GP3 cars took to the circuit for their first official race of the season. Stuvik had an exciting time for the first few laps with lots of position changes but after a couple of laps the race settled down as everyone began to focus on tire management. This being something completely new for the Thai driver, he was pleased to finish the race in 10th place.
“Definitely a new experience for me, but it’s great to be racing again. I tried to conserve my tires for the end and it worked out well. I could pick off drivers one-by-one so I’m quite satisfied with how the race unfolded.” Unfortunately the Thai champion was hit with a post-race penalty for overtaking under the safety car, “I had no chance of seeing the lights as they came on right as I was making my overtake,” he said. “It’s a shame that my first point goes away like that after such a good race.”
Come Sunday morning it was race day for Formula 1 at the Spanish Grand Prix, however, for Stuvik in GP3, Sunday would be the second race of the weekend. Starting from 18th on the grid after the penalty, Sandy was aiming for a good start and a steady race, in order to fight for position at the end.
The race began and Sandy immediately got to work to secure a higher position. Much the same as in the first race, the drivers had to conserve their resources in the middle of the race to make sure they were in a fighting position at the end. Sandy did the same, but this time got the tire management wrong and tire grip started dropping off towards the end, which led to him finishing the race in a disappointing 17th position.
“First weekend over and I’ve really had a great experience learning how to properly use the car and the tires to my advantage. It’s not easy to come into this highly-competitive series but I aim to improve for the next race. I’m glad that I could be up there finishing just behind my teammate Alex Fontana but there is clearly a lot of room for us as a team to improve. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity Singha Corporation, The Pizza Company, Dacon Inspection Services, and Tourism Authority of Thailand have given me,” said Stuvik.
The next race for the Thai driver will be at Red Bull Ring in Austria from the 19th – 21st of July. Before then, Stuvik will have a simulator session with his team Status GP in order to be fully prepared for this race.