Red Bull Junior Team racer Neil Verhagen has paid tribute to Tech1 Racing following a collective decision to run slick tyres after a red flag in qualifying handed the American third on the grid for the final Formula Renault Northern European Cup race at Pau this afternoon [13th May].
Verhagen – along with team-mate Frank Bird and the MP Motorsport pairing of Christian Lundgaard and eventual pole-sitter Alex Peroni – elected to switch from wet tyres after two reconnaissance laps onto slicks, with a window of opportunity presented after a spin for Sharon Scolari at La Gare brought out the red flags.
Though it took a handful of laps for the disparity between the two compounds to disappear, Verhagen then put himself at the sharp end of the timesheets with a 1:19.949, four tenths of a second off pole.
Wet weather is expected to hit the 2.7km street circuit again this afternoon, with the race getting underway at 18:02 CEST.
“The team asked for my thoughts on switching to slicks and I was quite hesitant,” admitted Verhagen.
“But it was really a team effort to make that call. It was a risky option to take and it meant I couldn’t put a foot wrong, At the end of the day it was the correct decision and I’m very happy with own performance to get the car to the end of the session, which is the priority.
“Starting third will make it easier in terms of visibility, but I think the amount of rain we had yesterday was hopefully more than we’ll have today. Hopefully we’ll have some sun today too, yesterday it was quite dark and with the spray visibility was impossible.
“For me, at the moment it’s more important getting the experience and building everything up towards Monaco, obviously I want to win but at the moment I think it’s more valuable for me to keep getting experience on the circuit and maybe don’t make a risky move for second or the lead.”