Anthony Davidson’s stars of Portimao
We spoke to official FIA WEC TV commentator Anthony Davidson to get his thoughts on who were the stand-out drivers at the recent 6 Hours of Portimao.
Below is what the former WEC World Champion had to say.
“I'm going to go for Nicklas Nielsen in the No.50 Ferrari AF Corse 499P. I thought he extracted everything that he possibly could from that car. Every time I saw him he was always the Toyotas nearest threat in terms of lap times. Not that it was much of an ultimate threat but he completely optimized the car's performance and I guess maximized what the car could do.
“He was also cool on the radio and we didn't hear him flustered when he was in that fight with his stablemate James Calado in the No.51 Ferrari. They didn't have to nurse car problems like car No. 51 did, so I was impressed with his speed, consistency and professionalism.
“I thought the engineer on No.51 (Justin Taylor) handled it brilliantly when James was asked to move over for Nicklas to come through. Obviously, it's frustrating for James and I've been in that situation myself many times where you're fighting your sister car. It's tough.
“For whatever reason, the No.51 car probably had the problem from quite early on and clearly it struggled for speed.
“In relation to that, I thought Antonio Giovinazzi was exceptional in coping and adapting to that issue. His speed with what he was having to go through in the car was amazing, keeping his head going through all the controls. Clearly he knew what he was doing to keep that thing performing half decently without getting too flustered. That was remarkable, actually.”
LMP2 – Geido Van Der Garde
“It was a really nice redemption story for the No.23 United Autosports car. But it still wasn't easy for Oliver Jarvis, Josh Pierson and Giedo van der Garde to execute the win.
“I really feel like the right car won though. It was great to see two 'super subs' at United, Ben Hanley and van der Garde doing so well.
“Giedo was much calmer at the start of the race than I thought he would be, based on how he used to perform in the TDS run Racing for Netherlands car. I spoke to him after the race and he said, 'yeah, I knew I had a race winning car, and couldn't approach it in the same style that he did back in the day with TDS car.'
“That was when he had a bronze driver as part of the package. This time he knew he had a race winning car and line-up which made him feel he had more responsibility to keep his nose clean at the start.
“I thought he played it very maturely and it all made sense in the end. He drove a brilliant first stint, yes he was out there with many silver drivers, but he still did the job that he needed to do.
“I think the reason why they were going to leave him in the car to do a triple at the end is testament to the job he was doing. It shows that he had the speed and consistency to bring it home.
“But then obviously ran into massive trouble with the radio that they thought was unique to him, so they got him out the car, only to find out that it was a car problem and not a driver's helmet radio problem. Stressful!”
“Oliver Jarvis runs Giedo close, but I just feel that coming out with that performance in a one off race like that was really special from the Dutch master.”
LMGTE Am – Nicky Catsburg
“I loved that fight at the end between Nicky Catsburg and Alessio Rovera. I could have watched that all day long.
“If I was a fan back at home I would have just been watching those two because that was absolutely top quality stuff in LMGTE Am. It was a fantastic display of two pro GT drivers at the top of their game, with Rovera in the Richard Mille AF Corse Ferrari putting massive pressure on Catsburg's Corvette.
“Towards the end of the race Catsburg just had to place his car. I mean, nobody could have hoped to have done a better job in just how precise he was and how calculated he was in where he placed that Corvette.
“He made it as wide as he could, but without doing anything risky or dangerous, anything that would raise an eyebrow, even remotely from the stewards room. It was honestly really top quality stuff.
“It was a bit like a 0-0 draw in a football match. It doesn't have to be a high score, or even a goal scored to make it a great show. There wasn't an overtake but there didn't need to be an overtake because it was the anticipation and the gamesmanship – a high speed chess game of where you would place your piece. That, I found absolutely fascinating.
“I think the right driver won at the end. I think the right team won, based on all of the jobs that the other drivers, Ben Keating and Nicolas Varrone had done.”
In just over one week's time, the FIA WEC will be at Spa-Francorchamps for the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. Click HERE for ticketing information.