Today at Monza Sergio Perez (T-Sport) took his third win in a row in this year's British F3 International Series, the Mexican again powering through from 14th on the grid after a disastrous qualifying session when his best times were ...
Today at Monza Sergio Perez (T-Sport) took his third win in a row in this year's British F3 International Series, the Mexican again powering through from 14th on the grid after a disastrous qualifying session when his best times were disallowed for cutting corners. Behind him, Esteban Guerrieri gave Ultimate Motorsport a well-deserved 2nd place on the podium, and Atte Mustonen (Double R Racing) rounded out the podium places having started 3rd and finished 3rd. In the National Class we had the third winner of the year in the shape of Jay Bridger (Fluid Motorsport) after Andy Meyrick tangled with an International Class runner and crashed out of the lead. In the Invitation Class, Matteo Chinosi (Ombra Racing) came home to win but was probably disappointed not to finish higher than 10th overall after the race was red-flagged when Sebastian Hohenthal (Fortec Motorsport) was pitched into a roll after tangling with Oliver Turvey (Carlin Motorsport) at the Ascari Bends.
At the start of the race it looked as if pole man Max Chilton (Hitech Motorsport) intended making up for his problems on Saturday with a win, as the youngster made a great start and got away well ahead of Chinosi. However, behind him people were discovering just how slippery it was out there. Sam Abay (Carlin Motorsport) was the first to come a cropper, spinning in the middle of the field - he was very lucky that everyone else managed to miss him. Others were not so fortunate. While Abay's team-mate, Jaime Alguersuari took to the grass to avoid the Australian, Walter Grubmuller (Hitech Racing) and Henry Arundel (Double R Racing) clashed, Grubmuller dropping right back, while Arundel retired on the spot. He wasn't alone; Justin Wilson (Fluid Motorsport) was in the wall, Philip Major (Fortec Motorsport) was in the tyres after colliding with Craig Reiff (Nexa Racing), and Viktor Jensen (Nexa Racing) and Salman Al Khalifa (T- Sport) were all out on the spot.
At the end of the first lap the Safety Car had to be scrambled to take over the field and Ricardo Teixeira (Ultimate Motorsport), Steven Guerrero (T-Sport) and Wilson all lurched into the pits for rapid repairs before lurching out again. It was very slippery indeed out there and the rain was getting heavier.
At least with the Safety Car in control there was no risk of anything really stupid happening for a while at least. Chilton settled in with Chinosi, Mustonen, Michael Devaney (Ultimate Motorsport), Guerrieri, Hohenthal, Alguersuari, Turvey, John Martin (Double R Racing) and Meyrick rounding out the top ten. 11th was Marcus Ericsson (Fortec Motorsport), from Nick Tandy (John Tandy Racing), Perez, Kristjan Einar (Carlin Motorsport), Brendon Hartley (Carlin Motorsport), Bridger, Hywel Lloyd (CF Motorsport), Grubmuller, Abay and Teixeira. Guerrero and Wilson were bringing up the rear, though Wilson would soon park it terminally out the back, the damage proving too much.
Two laps later and the race could go live again. Chilton controlled the start well, while behind him Mustonen and Devaney were arguing over 3rd. Mustonen managed to get ahead but Devaney wasn't having it and came straight back at the Finn. Meanwhile, Alguersuari got the drop on Hohenthal and now had Guerrieri squarely in his sights. They ran side-by-side but then Mustonen made a break and got through. Alguersuari almost immediately got the better of Devaney, who now had Mustonen ahead and Hohenthal breathing down his exhaust pipe. Hohenthal, however, soon had his hands full with Perez who had been quietly scything his way through the pack unnoticed and was now 8th - and who wanted to be 7th and soon. They had Chinosi right in front of them and the Italian was proving something of a problem, certainly if Hohenthal's efforts to get by were anything to go by. The Swede was all over the kerbs, as was Tandy who was now right behind Hohenthal. He didn't stay there for long, passing both the Swede and the Italian. He was having one hell of a race. Meanwhile, still unnoticed by everyone else, Perez was now 6th and looking very threatening.
Mustonen finally managed to wrestle his way past Alguersuari, who had just lost a place to Guerrieri, while Turvey was bumping and barging his way round the track. Perez moved up further when he managed to get past Devaney and then slotted in a new fastest lap of the race. And now he started to close down Guerrieri and Alguersuari, who were having their own battle. Neither of them proved to be too much of an obstacle to the determined Mexican, and Guerrieri took advantage of the momentum to go through as well. It was soon clear that Perez wanted Mustonen's scalp as well.The Finn can be a tough proposition sometimes but not this time. Perez was brooking no opposition though and he was soon past. That only left Chilton.
Meanwhile, life was still proving interesting for Alguersuari, as he now had Tandy right with him - and Tandy wasn't in the mood to take no for an answer either, sliding around and setting a new fastest lap on the way to another place. While Mustonen was fighting off Guerrieri, it was all getting silly further back. A drive through penalty was awarded to Teixeira, while Hartley made a somewhat ill-thought out move on Grubmuller that put both of them out of the running on the spot.
At half distance Chilton was still leading from Perez, who was towing Guerrieri along, while Mustonen and Tandy were also still with them. By the end of that lap, Chilton had lost his lead, and Perez was through and Guerrieri soon passed the youngster too. Meanwhile, National Class leader Meyrick had gone missing, after tangling with either Ericsson or Martin. That allowed Bridger into the lead, with Einar and Lloyd battling it out for second in class and apparently having great fun slipstreaming each other. A new fastest lap went to Perez (though he was soon replaced by Ericsson on that score), while Mustonen attempted to hack past Chilton. They crossed the start/finish line together, the Finn just ahead. Chilton tried to take it back but Mustonen wasn't feeling cooperative and anyway Tandy was now right with the teenager. With another fastest race lap under his belt, Tandy had a go at Chilton and was soon through. Further back Turvey was looking for some way to demote Hohenthal for 7th.
The rain had stopped by now and the track was still slippery, with a drying line, which meant that we got fastest lap after fastest lap, which meant the next one went to Guerrieri, and then to Ericsson again. And then things got very messy. Turvey made a dive at Hohenthal from a long way back, got two wheels on the grass, and slid into Hohenthal, flipping the Swede into a spin which became a roll. The car landed rollbar down in the middle of the track and the Safety Car lights came on. However, with less than a minute to run there was no point.
The organisers hauled out the red flags and followed them with the chequered and the race was over. The results would be declared as at the end of lap 12, with the exception of Hohenthal, who would be unclassified because he failed to cross the line under his own steam when the race was brought to a premature end. This seemed a little harsh really considering, but then it had been that sort of weekend. Turvey was handed a 10 second penalty for the incident, and dropped a long way down the order as a result.
There was, however, no arguing with the fact that Perez was the winner for the third time in three races and is beginning to look every inch the potential champion. Behind him came Guerrieri, Mustonen, Tandy, Chilton, Alguersuari, Ericsson, Martin, Chinosi (the Invitation Class winner) and Abay. Devaney was 11th, ahead of National Class winner Bridger, Turvey, Einar, Lloyd, Guerrero and Teixeira.
The fastest laps of the race went to Guerrieri, Chinosi and Bridger.
Weather: Warm, raining.
Next Races: Rounds 7 & 8, Rockingham, Northamptonshire, 25th/26th May.