Atte Mustonen sixth at the Bucharest F3 round on Saturday
Collision robs Atte of the lead on Sunday, and forces him to retire
Raikkonen Robertson Racing team's (Double R) F3 driver Atte Mustonen finished sixth at the Bucharest round of the British F3 series on Saturday. In Sunday's race Atte started from third on the grid, immediately grabbed the lead and led the race until Carlin Motorsport's Maro Engel crashed into Atte. Both drivers were forced to retire due to the collision.
The Bucharest street track was a challenge for all the drivers. Untimed practice was held in both wet and dry conditions; rain periodically soaking the track before the sun dried it out again. The difficult conditions caused problems for all, including Atte, who crashed into a barrier wall and totalled his car. This meant that Atte lost valuable time in which he could have been getting experience of the Bucharest circuit. However Atte did well enough in Saturday's qualifying session to secure himself a start from seventh on the grid. In qualifying for Sunday's race, Atte was flying and almost certain to be fastest qualifier, until the last lap of the session when slower traffic robbed him of his chance to claim pole position. Atte had to settle for a start from third on the grid.
For Saturday afternoon's race, Hitech Racing's Marko Asmer started from pole, Carlin Motorsport's Alberto Valerio from second on the grid and Fortec Motorsport's Sebastian Hohenthal from third. There was no shortage of crashes during the race, the safety car coming out on several occasions to lead the drivers in procession around the track. Eventually Atte finished sixth. Pole position man Asmer was first home with Valerio second and Carlin Motorsport's Sam Bird third.
On Sunday Atte and the team were in optimistic mood. Atte had been so quick in qualifying that there was a very real chance he could win Sunday's race. Atte started from third on the grid, with Double R's Stephen Jelley on pole and Carlin Motorsport's Antonio Valerio starting from second. Atte started well. On the third lap Jelley and Valerio ran wide, and Atte didn't hesitate to grab the lead. The situation changed however when fourth fastest qualifier Maro Engel of the Carlin Motorsport team caught Atte and tried to steal the lead. Trying to squeeze past Atte, Engel succeeded only in driving into the side of Mustonen's car, forcing both drivers to retire. Carlin Motorsport's Sam Bird took the win, with Carlin's Niall Breen second and Double R's Stephen Jelley third.
"What can I say, Engel robbed me of a sure win," said Atte after the Bucharest round.
Atte is currently tenth in the series points standings.