Ralph Boschung’s experience-gathering GP3 Series campaign moved up a gear at Silverstone last weekend (July 3-5) where the Swiss ace claimed his maiden championship podium during Sunday’s Sprint Race. Indeed, the third round of the season also started well for the JENZER MOTORSPORT driver, who secured eighth in Saturday’s Feature contest.
Although he had never raced at the ultra-fast British Grand Prix venue before, the youngest driver in the GP3 field quickly got up to speed and was closing in on the top-10 as early as qualifying. The hotly-contested session saw Boschung once again set the 11th fastest time and was the highest classified of all three JENZER drivers on the Feature Race grid.
But a difficult getaway meant Ralph was immediately under pressure from works Nissan LMP1 driver and GP3 race winner Jann Mardenborough. Fortunately contact between the two drivers did not prevent the 17-year-old from making a strong recovery through the field, despite slightly affecting his car’s balance.
While Ralph benefitted from Alex Palou’s early retirement he certainly had a fight on his hands passing Austrian Sprint Race victor Oscar Tunjo and Lotus F1 Team development driver Adderly Fong en route to P8.
The reverse grid for Sunday’s Sprint event saw Boschung start on pole for the second time this season. Despite his previous experience as pole-sitter in Austria, the Swiss youngster suffered too much wheelspin at lights out, meaning that experienced racers Kevin Ceccon and Esteban Ocon beat him into the first corner. But Ralph’s steely determination was not dented as he put up a staunch defence against repeated assaults from Jimmy Eriksson and Matthew Parry.
Superb management of his Pirelli superhards enabled Boschung to stay one second ahead of the Koiranen GP duo all the way to the chequered flag. That maiden podium allied with Ralph’s strong eighth-place finish has propelled him into the top-10 in the championship standings.
“What a great feeling!” enthused Boschung the day after his strong performance. “I’m really happy to have secured my first ever podium in GP3, especially on a circuit like Silverstone where I had never raced before last weekend. When I crossed the line I was obviously tremendously happy, but also relieved after fighting to stay ahead of Eriksson and Parry right to the very end.
“Lining up on the grid on Sunday morning, I was determined to convert pole position into a strong result and I’m glad we did. However, too much wheelspin at the start allowed Ceccon and Ocon through. This is one of the areas where I still need to improve because I had a similar issue on Saturday.
“The contact with Mardenborough meant my car was a bit unstable throughout the Feature Race but I managed to recover thanks to our strong pace. We knew we could match the speed of the cars starting in front of us, as we had proved in qualifying when we weren’t far from cracking the top-10.
“After such a great weekend, hats off to JENZER MOTORSPORT who continue to do a tremendous job. As ever, I’d like to extend my gratitude to my main backer B63, as well as the Valais-based construction company CP3, Champéry-based Avanthay&Partners real estate, and Moderntimes Hotel. Last but not least, thank you to all the ‘Club 50’ members – in particular the Monthey Audi dealership – for their renewed loyalty and on-going support. This maiden podium also belongs to them.”
The GP3 Series drivers will now head to Budapest where round four of this year’s championship serves as a support event to the 2015 Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix on July 24-26.