Prior to the final round of the Protyre Formula Renault Championship at Silverstone, the Championship contenders benefitted from two days testing on Wednesday and Friday on the National circuit. In the four half hour sessions on Wednesday, Matteo topped the time sheets for three out of the four. His competitive speed continued on Friday again topping the time sheets in session one and only six-hundredths behind quickest man Piers Hickin in session two.
With two positive days behind him Matteo was confident and prepared for the two qualifying sessions on Saturday morning, which determined positions for the two races of the weekend. Track conditions were considerably different to the previous day and Matteo found the handling of the car to be nervous and light in the rear end. He finished the first qualifying session with the third quickest time behind teammate Colin Noble and Piers Hickin (Matteo’s rival for second place in the Championship).
Matteo made a car set up change for the second qualifying session to combat the handling issues he had experienced earlier that morning. He was immediately on the pace and setting fastest laps. He was pipped at the post by one tenth on the very last lap by teammate, and Protyre Formula Renault Champion, Pietro Fittipaldi, placing Matteo second for race two, ahead of Hickin and Noble respectively.
From third on the grid, Matteo made a good start in Saturday afternoon’s race one. He was straight into a good rhythm and had good pace. The front four runners were relatively evenly matched for speed as the fastest laps swapped between them. Fourteen laps into the eighteen lap race Matteo started to feel the pressure from Fittipaldi, the Brazilian was hot on his heels making some overly aggressive moves to try to take third place, one of which resulted in him touching the rear of Matteo’s car causing Matteo to spin in the second corner, Becketts.
Matteo was able to recover quickly and slotted into fifth place behind American TJ Fischer whom he quickly overtook on the exit of turn one. Despite his speed and determination to regain his third place spot, there were not enough laps remaining for Matteo to challenge Fittipaldi, and he crossed the line in fourth.
Following the race there was a steward’s inquiry into the incident between the MGR teammates, which resulted in the finishing positions of Fittipaldi and Matteo, being reversed as they deemed the incident to have been caused by Fittipaldi. This gave Matteo his much-needed points for third as he continued his pursuit of second in the Championship.
With Matteo still sitting fourth in the Championship, three points behind both Hickin and Alex Gill, he was focused on earning the maximum number of points to secure a minimum of a top three Championship position. Matteo made a good start from second and as the first four cars rushed to turn one they fought for position. Fittipaldi merged from turn one in the lead with Matteo glued to his tail and as they braked for turn two Becketts, Matteo made a finely judged move around the outside of Fittipaldi to challenge for the lead. As they exited the corner Fittipaldi edged Matteo wide which allowed Hickin to get alongside Matteo. At Brooklands on the first lap Matteo had a moment which allowed Hickin through to attack Fittipaldi who he soon demoted. Matteo and Fittipaldi were then involved in intense battles as they regularly swapped positions during the first twelve laps until at Brooklands, Matteo ran a little wide giving Fittipaldi the advantage allowing him to run up the inside as they went towards the Luffield right hander. With the ever-narrowing gap into Luffield Matteo tagged Fittipaldi’s rear wheel, which badly damaged his front wing. Matteo continued on although his damaged wing caused severe understeer. Despite some good defensive driving he was unable to hold off a charging Fischer and eventually took the flag in fifth. Fittipaldi took fastest lap from Matteo on the last lap by less than two hundredths. The provisional results place Matteo third in the Championship.
The official results of the last two events, at Croft and Silverstone, and as a result the final Championship Standing, are subject to official confirmation by the national motor sporting authority, the MSA, as a protest is pending regarding technical compliance of car number 9, Piers Hickin, entered by Scorpio Motorsport.
Allinsport’s Samantha Collins commented; “We are very proud of the progress Matteo has made this year and the determination he has shown through the difficult times when the car wasn’t as good as it could have been. He raced hard this weekend and showed how far his race craft and driving has progressed.”
“It has been a memorable year,” remarked Matteo. “A bit of misfortune at times but a lot of progress. Thank you to all those who have supported me.”