It was a frustrating but rewarding weekend for Cameron Das in Monza as the sixth round of the Euroformula Open Championship took place in Italy. Strong pace in practice was replaced with tactics all around him in qualifying which left Das stuck in traffic and unable to get a proper representative lap on the board. As a result, the 18-year-old found himself lining up on the grid out of position for both races with it all to do. Despite pushing hard, Das was taken out of the first race however he more than made up for it on Sunday with a storming drive to take another great podium position – his fourth of the season so far.
Thursday and Friday before the weekend properly got underway gave Das the opportunity to hone his skills around the so-called Temple of Speed. Enjoying the hours of testing behind the wheel the talented American was on the pace and looking good ahead of the weekend.
However qualifying on Saturday morning was a completely different prospect. As is often the case, traffic built up around the 3.6-mile circuit as every single driver looked to take advantage of the slip stream effect. Instead of lap after lap of competitive times, drivers slowed and bunched together; desperate for an advantage without giving an edge to their rivals. Unfortunately, this traffic coupled with a gearbox issue throughout the session, left Das unable to make an impression and meant he qualified in tenth.
In the race, Das’ luck failed to turn around. Despite a solid start he found himself squeezed tighter and tighter between two cars at the first corner during the second lap which caused contact and sent him off track with damage to his car, unable to continue.
Sunday provided the opportunity to do it all over again. Das fought well to find a gap and remove himself from the tactics on track but was once again at a disadvantage with the traffic. This meant that for the final race of the weekend, he lined up in sixth.
Looking to end the weekend on a high Das got a solid start but dropped a position following an incident ahead of him at turn one. From there, he continued to push hard in seventh position before a safety car came out on track to deal with a collision between his Carlin team mate Dev Gore and Aldo Festante.
A few laps later, Das began his charge in earnest and had taken position from Matheus Iorio as the pair carved their way through the field, avoiding incidents around them. Swapping positions multiple times in the final laps, Das made it up to third, the final spot on the podium, before his team mate Iorio stole it back.
As it was, the pair continued their battle right up until the checkered flag fell with Das brilliantly coming out on top and adding another podium to his season tally as he walked on to the third step of the rostrum.
Das reflected on the weekend, “I think we recovered as a team well on Sunday. On Saturday, we had a gearbox issue, so I had to start at the back for Race One. To make matters worse, I was sandwiched between two cars on the second lap which critically damaged my front suspension.
“On Sunday morning, we got unlucky with track position during the last two minutes of qualifying, but despite not having any sort of a tow we were sixth fastest. For the race, I was in a bit of survival mode for the first two or three laps, but I knew my strong pace would allow me to proceed ahead if I was patient. After working with my teammate, Matheus [Iorio], we picked off cars in between us and I eventually overtook Matheus and defended the podium position from him for the last two laps.
“I’m actually really happy with how we recovered as a team. I think we will be a force to be reckoned with in Jerez in a few weeks’ time.”
Das will take to the track for the penultimate round of the championship in Jerez at the beginning of October.