Nürnberg – Germany, 09 July 2023
The Emil Frey Racing team had to cope with the hot temperatures on their Norisring debut.
Not only the street circuit in Nuremberg, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, was new to the Swiss racing team, but also the qualifying format. Due to the short track of only 2.3 km, the field was divided into two groups. The first laps of the qualifying were used to prepare the optimal tyre temperature of the Ferraris. Due to the short track layout with few corners per lap, the drivers could try to set their fastest time over several laps. In the free practice, the team struggled with the brakes’ heat. This problem also prevented the drivers from achieving a better position than 23rd and 25th in qualifying.
Jack Aitken could already fight his way up to 22nd place on the third lap. But only six laps later, he reported that due to the extreme usage, the temperature of the brakes increased very early above average, further reducing the performance. Between the safety car phases on laps 11 and 20, Vermeulen touched his teammate on the left rear in an unfortunate situation – fortunately without further consequences. Due to these safety car phases, the pit stop window shifted backwards. Thierry Vermeulen was the first in the pit. The team performed with a solid pit stop of 6.6 seconds, which allowed Vermeulen to maintain his previous position. Immediately afterwards, Aitken also pitted. The fresh tyres boosted his confidence in the car and helped him finish the race in 17th place. His teammate Thierry Vermeulen benefited from the late retirement of Porsche driver Laurin Heinrich and finished 20th.
New day, same problem: On Sunday at 09:20, the starting signal was given for the qualifying of Group B. Due to the thermal issues of the previous day, the team relied on a new strategy for #69, so instead of the usual warm-up laps, the second part of the qualifying was used. Qualifying for Vermeulen started at 09:26 and ended in 26th place.
On the other hand, the crew of #14 stuck to their previous strategy. They started Group A qualifying with the usual warm-up laps and brought Aitken back into the pits for a short cool-down. After a break of 4 minutes and 30 seconds, Aitken was back in action, fighting for every tenth on the demanding track.
Despite the hard and sweaty efforts of the Swiss team, both drivers started the second race from the back of the grid and tried to make the almost impossible possible.
A few minutes before the scheduled start time, a loud booing sounded through the spectator stands. The reason: climate activists illegally gained access to the race track and went onto the track with banners and paint. At 1:43 p.m., the lights turned green, and the cars duelled again, with some delay, for victory in the weekend’s second race. The conditions took their toll, and not only with the places in the back rows.
“Unfortunately, our debut weekend at the Norisring was unsuccessful. Our cars struggled with the high temperatures, which had already become apparent in the preparation simulations. We hope that we can implement a solution as soon as possible. Next weekend we will start again in the GT World Challenge in Misano,” concluded Lorenz Frey-Hilti, Team Principal.
“It was a challenging and instructive weekend. Of course, we would have wished for a better result. But unfortunately, the conditions didn’t allow it,” said Jack Aitken.
Despite the heat, 102,000 spectators found their way to the Norisring. The atmosphere lived up to its reputation and was fantastic throughout the race weekend.
Emil Frey Racing
Schürmattstrasse, CH-5745 Safenwil
T: +41 (0) 79 567 25 18