Having dominated proceedings at Monaco last weekend and led the way from the first turn of wheel all the way to the chequered flag, Sam was presented with the diametrically opposite challenge this weekend on the circuit of Spa Francorchamps, for the third round of the 2012 World Series by Renault Championship: what could he achieve from last on the grid in close to zero-visibility conditions?
Indeed, having already secured another front row start followed by his third consecutive podium finish on Saturday, all seemed to be going to plan in Sunday’s qualifying session, this time in very wet conditions. Sam was on provisional pole with only a few minutes left on the clock and was on course to improve on his own lap time. However, he then ran out of fuel on track and in improving conditions, his time was bettered by two rivals in the final moments of the session.
World Series by Renault regulations state that there must be a set quantity of fuel left in the tank at the end of qualifying and Sam was consequently demoted to the back of the grid for the race.
In very difficult conditions, however, Sam sliced his way through the field, lap after lap, displaying a combination of pace, courage, opportunism and inch-perfect decision-making, to take the chequered flag in an impressive fifth place.
"The team were very upset with themselves for the fuelling mistake in qualifying," said Sam after Sunday’s race, "but these things can happen and we stuck together as always. We win as a team, we lose as a team and on a weekend when things didn’t particularly go our way, we still extracted everything possible to get the best results available. From that perspective, we have to be satisfied with the outcome of the weekend."
The next round of the World Series by Renault Championship takes place at the Nürburgring on 30th June - 1st July.