Round 1 – Sakhir, Bahrain
Jed Norgrove: P7 – Tom Manley P16

Flying the flag for the Scuderia AlphaTauri Orlen Esports team in this first round of the 2023-2024 season were our two rookie racers, Tom Manley and Jed Norgrove, with Joni Tormala on the bench. Things started well with Jed making it through to Q3, lining up eighth on the grid, while Tom had a tougher time of it, qualifying 14th. At the start of the 29 lap race at the Bahrain International Circuit, Norgrove got away well, making the most of the grip from the Soft tyres, immediately making up two places.

Team-mate Tom Manley went for a different strategy starting on Hards and in the usual melee at the start lost three places, but he put his head down and set off in pursuit of those ahead, although a 5 second penalty for “rough driving” definitely compromised his race as the field was so bunched up.

On lap 6, a collision between several drivers ahead of Jed meant he was promoted to fourth place. He matched the pace of those in front and came in on lap 11 to fit Medium tyres. The undercut worked very well and Norgrove got as high as second place behind a dominant Thomas Ronhaar in an Alfa Romeo, who had built up a slight lead and won the race. Then, in the final ten laps Jed’s Mediums suffered a sudden drop in performance and so he began to lose ground, eventually taking the chequered flag in seventh place, thus scoring points on his debut, an exceptional result, given that he was up against more experienced racers. Tom also had cause to be satisfied, fighting his way back into the top ten on track, although the penalty dropped him back.

Jed Norgrove: “I was really happy to get into Q3 and qualify P8, which put us in a good position for the start and it meant we could aim to fight for points. It was an unbelievable race. I got up to P6 and was ahead of a Ferrari and a McLaren to run P4. We really nailed the strategy thanks to a great job from the team. Towards the end, we got caught by those who were on fresher tyres. But I’m really happy to finish P7 on my debut with the team.”

Tom Manley: “Qualifying was a mess as I didn’t feel comfortable in the rig and every lap was inconsistent and on top of that I got a grid penalty for blocking which put me back to 17th. For the race, I had to be aggressive starting that far back, so I went long after starting on the Hards and made some really nice overtakes and maybe P9 would have been the best I could do, which would have been a good result.”