As part of the build up to the second round of the UIM Formula 2 World Championship we had a look back at the last time Antwerp, in Belgium held an international powerboat race, which, believe it or not was seventeen years ago.
Back then it was the turn of the Formula One drivers to entertain the crowds gathered along the Scheldt quays as they watched Guido Cappellini, who now oversees the F2 racing activities of Team Abu Dhabi, hold off Scott Gillman and Francesco Cantando to win the Belgium Grand Prix. That season Cappellini won five Grand Prix but lost the World Championships driver’s title by just two points to Gillman.
Several of those drivers that raced on that May day are regulars these days in the F2 pits with the likes of Massimo Roggiero looking after his BaBa drivers, Fabio Comparato over seeing his son Alberto and Sami Selio, along with Rudi Mihaldinecz, guiding Ferdinand Zandbergen through his first season in F2.
Looking a bit further down the results sheets that day you would have come across a driver who was making just his fourth Formula One Grand Prix appearance and that was Duarte Benavente, who was racing with Cantando and Mihaldinecz in the Singha Beer Team.
Fresh from a brilliant fourth place at his home Grand Prix in Portimao just two weeks earlier, Benavente arrived in Antwerp full of confidence but it was too be short lived after the Portuguese driver barrel rolled in qualifying. Starting from the back of the grid the young driver soon moved up through the field of eighteen drivers, which included the local hero Danny Bertels who only lasted just three laps before his cowling came off and he had to retire. After thirty five laps the chequered flag came out and Benavente had remarkably finished in sixth place.
Now Benavente splits his racing calendar between the F1H2O series and the UIM Formula Two World Championship but it hasn’t been easy for the driver from Vila Fresca, just south of Lisbon. Gear-case issues meant he was unable to start in Ribadouro last year and an electronic fault meant he also missed the race start at the opening round of the 2017 championship in Kaunas.
I really hope all the issues we had back in Lithuania are now resolved
Because I am enjoying every minute of racing in F2. I’m also delighted to be heading back to Antwerp as it proves to everyone that even when you are in a difficult situation you can still turn it into a triumph.