After the disappointment of breaking at his home Grand Prix two weeks ago, France’s Philippe Chiappe rebounded this weekend with a superb victory in the F1 H2O Grand Prix of Portugal. It was his seventh career win and his first in Portimao, according to the F1 H2O press release.
CTIC F1 China driver Philippe Chiappe ran a perfect race to win the F1 H2O Grand Prix of Portugal. Photo courtesy F1 H2O
Second place went to pole-sitter Sami Selio—his first podium of the year signaled a long awaited return to form for Finland’s two-time world champion—and American Shaun Torrente took his fourth consecutive podium for the Dubai-based Victory Team.
A blistering start off the pontoon saw current points leader and three-time champion Alex Carella and Chiappe grab the advantage from Selio, with Torrente moving up a place into fourth ahead of Jonas Andersson. The most disappointed racer at the start was Emirates Racing’s Erik Stark, who dropped from second to sixth.
Carella held the advantage until lap 14 when a trim problem dropped his pace and allowed Chiappe to pass; the same problem occurred again on lap 30 and Carella dropped down the field to fifth, which he held to the finish.
The pace throughout the 48 laps around the 1.97-kilometer Arade River seven-pin circuit was ferocious with Chiappe maintaining a comfortable lead from Selio, who in turn was kept on his toes by Torrente. Andersson, who had a good run in fourth to get over the reliability issues of the previous race, matched his best finish of the year.
Today’s result for CTIC F1 China driver Chiappe was a mirror image of a year ago when a breakdown in France followed by a victory in Portugal. His winning margin of 6.8 seconds moved him to within two points of championship leader Carella at 42 points, with Torrente right behind in third place at 36 points.
“It is the same story as last year and we needed this result,” Chiappe said. “I felt very confident today and especially after we took the lead. I wasn’t sure who was behind me but after the troubles we had, today everything worked very well.”
For Torrente, his recovery after looking down and out in qualifying keeps the title very much in sight for him and the Victory Team.
“Keep racking the points up—that’s what we have to do,” he said. “The pace today was incredible but the main thing is we kept fighting and got through and over the problems we had.”
The F1H2O World Championship now heads to the Far East to the People’s Republic of China and to its most northeastern city, Harbin, on Sept. 2-4.