Matt Parry came within a whisker of claiming points on his first weekend of GP3 Series competition at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.
The Koiranen GP newcomer finished ninth in race two after a rapid start to the Sunday morning event, climbing from 13th on the grid to latch onto the tail of the main points group, chasing hard after Saturday polesitter, Luca Ghiotto, from lap two.
Clearly quicker than the more experienced Italian through the opening sectors of the lap, Bury St Edmunds-based Parry could not quite get close enough through the final chicane to make a move down the main straight, although he remained in Ghiotto’s mirrors until a couple of laps from home.
“Starting where I did, and with the race only being 17 laps, I knew I had to make up places early on,” Parry said. “It was frustrating because I know that, if I had been able to pass him, I would have been able to put pressure on Esteban Ocon for seventh.”
Having lapped in a tightly-bunched midfield group in Friday’s lone practice session, Parry placed a disappointing 16th in Saturday’s early morning qualifying session.
Despite that, former County Upper School student Parry was only four-tenths of a second away from a spot in the top 10, which would have seen him starting in a point-scoring position.
While Parry’s starting position for the opening race of the weekend could have left him vulnerable to one of Barcelona’s familiar first corner incidents, the GP3 field proved well-behaved, leaving him to consolidate his place in the pack.
A post-race penalty for one of the drivers ahead of him later promoted the 21-year old to 13th, earning a spot on the inside of row seven for Sunday.
“I just got too impatient,” Parry said. “I had a pretty good start and made up a few places, but then got stuck behind Alex Fontana for a few laps until the safety car came out.
“While that was good for us in as far as it closed the field up, I was too eager at the restart and ran wide at turn ten, which allowed Kevin Ceccon to get through.”
Parry left the Circuit de Catalunya eleventh in the standings, the highest-placed driver without a point thanks to his narrow miss in race two, but now has a lengthy wait until round two of the season.
This takes place at the Red Bull Ring in Austria from June 19-21, after the F1 world championship – which GP3 supports throughout Europe – has completed its race weekends in Monaco and Canada.