ERICSSON IS THE HOCKENHEIM HERO
Marcus Ericsson scored his second successive victory in the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series this afternoon (Sat), leading virtually all the way from the start of the championship's seventh round at Hockenheim.
The Swede in his Raikkonen Robertson Racing Dallara made a superb start from third on the grid, blasting past bogged-down pole man Renger van der Zande and championship leader Daniel Ricciardo to assume command in to the first corner. Then, but for a brief mid-race blip, Marcus led van der Zande all the way to the chequered flag, with Walter Grubmuller third to make it a Mercedes power 1-2-3 on home ground.
"By mid point I pulled a gap on Renger," said Ericsson, "but then I made a silly, silly mistake into the hairpin and he overtook me, so I had to fight back at the next corner. I did it thank goodness because otherwise I would have been very disappointed."
Van der Zande was left to rue his startline error, which cost him his second British F3 win, and also Ericsson's aggressive repass for the lead. "I am not very happy," said Renger. "I stalled it at the start and that made for quite a tricky race. I was able to follow Marcus and I think I was quicker. But I wore my tyres too much. One time he was late on brakes at the hairpin and I got past, but then he put me on the grass so I couldn't stay in front. But second place is good and there is always tomorrow..."
Van der Zande had blown away the opposition in qualifying on Friday, his Hitech Racing Dallara posting the best Hockenheim F3 lap time of the season, more than half a second inside the Euro Series F3 pole time from earlier in the year.
The first lap of the race brought high drama and the elimination of three cars - those of Daisuke Nakajima, Riki Christodoulou and visiting F2 points leader Robert Wickens - in a collision. Ericsson wasn't the only slow starter: the other Rockingham victor, Nick Tandy, bogged down also and got away last.
Tandy and Grubmuller were the men on a mission from the outset, Nick bundling his away through the pack to eighth by the end and Walter picking off three cars on the opening lap to move up to fifth. The Austrian then disposed of the Carlin cars of Max Chilton and Ricciardo to claim third. "Max got a bad exit out of turn two," said Walter, "and that enabled me to get a good tow on him and pass him on the straight. It was pretty much the same story with Ricciardo."
Ricciardo and Chilton hung on for fourth and fifth respectively, with Adriano Buzaid sixth ahead of Carlos Huertas, Tandy, Wayne Boyd and Victor Garcia.
An extraordinary end to the National Class contest brought a maiden class win for Brazilian youngster Victor Correa and the Litespeed F3 team. As in every race so far this season it was Daniel McKenzie and Gabriel Dias who made all the running, the duo swapping the class lead several times in a very close contest. Alas it became too close on the 15th of the 19 laps, the duo coming together and spinning into retirement.
With the fourth class regular, Max Snegirev, not in attendance this weekend, that left Correa victorious. "I just did my job and drove the car safely to the end," said the bemused Brazilian. "I am very happy, it's good to be first."