Seb Morris called on all of his resolve and racing nous to deliver two battling points finishes during a frustrating first event of the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup season at Monza over the weekend, 12th/13th April, having gone into the races on the back foot after a troublesome qualifying.
Ending the opening event of his maiden season in European-level racing ninth in the championship standings, the 18-year-old Welsh driver produced a superb performance in round two on Sunday morning to climb into the top eight from an uncharacteristic 17th on the grid. Post-race, that became seventh position when Raoul Owens was handed a five second time penalty.
In Saturday’s first round, the Caterham Racing Academy youngster had a thankless task after contact at the final corner on the opening lap dropped him to the tail of the 32 car field. Even though having to contend with serious front wing damage, he tenaciously fought his way back into 15th position.
“It’s been a bit of a tough one this weekend”, said the Marford driver, “We were quickest in practice and it all looked good going into qualifying, but there was a mistake with the tyre pressures which put the team further down the grid than we should have been. We were on the back foot really for the rest of the weekend, so we have to be satisfied with the race performances.”
Beginning the Monza weekend with a superb run in pre-event practice, topping the times as the only driver to dip below the 1m50 second barrier, the Fortec Motorsport racer was all set to challenge for pole position in qualifying but the incorrect tyre pressure choice led to a difficult run.
Starting round one from the eighth row of the grid, Seb was unceremoniously tagged from behind at the Parabolica on lap one and resulting contact to his front wing from another car led to a very long afternoon’s work. Fighting serious understeer for the rest of the race, the Jack Wills ‘Young Briton’ and TAG Heuer ambassador worked wonders to recover from the back of the field into the top 15
For Sunday morning’s second round, Seb lined-up on row nine of the grid in 17th position and was able to show more of his genuine pace as he carved his way through the order into an impressively strong eighth place. Working his way into contention for the top 10 on lap one alone, he emerged from a great four car battle with eighth place – later becoming seventh post-race – to bring a positive conclusion to the weekend.
“In race one I got spun round into the last corner, then I was hit round by another car back into the right direction but it ripped off the right side of my front wing”, explained the Elite Cymru driver, “I battled back through though and from being at the back we got 15th place which was good going, especially with the damage.
“Sunday’s race was much cleaner, we picked off cars one by one and made the best of a bad job really – it was a good drive. We definitely had the pace to challenge for the podium this weekend, and probably wins to be honest. We’ll learn from it, though, and hopefully do better at Silverstone.”
Next on the calendar for Seb will be a return to British soil for the second event of the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC season, rounds three and four, which will take place at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit on 24th/25th May in support of the Blancpain Endurance Series.
Photo by Insight F1 Motorsport Report/Jeroen Vermeeren.