The second FIA Formula 3 European Championship race weekend will take place at the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg (DEU) from 2 till 4 May.
Race Report – Round 3 (Race 3):
Silverstone this morning saw the third winner from three races in the European F3 Championship and the first all-rookie podium in a very long time as Antonio Fuoco (Prema Powerteam) waltzed away from the rest of the pack, leaving yesterday’s Round 2 winner Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam) to lose 2nd to a hard-charging Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing) after a very committed move from the young Dutchman.
At the start Verstappen was more than a little slow off the mark on the formation lap, while Jordan King (Carlin) was indulging in a spot of wheelspin to try and warm his tyres up. Given how cold the air was (grid girls wearing four pairs of tights under their yellow Lycra suits was the norm) this seemed like intelligent behavior. As the field lined up on the grid for the third and final time this weekend there was a great deal of locking up going on.
When the lights went out Ocon was very slow off the line, handing the advantage to Fuoco, who was not slow to take what was offered, tearing off into the distance while Ocon had to hold off Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) who had a very serious look up the inside of the French teenager’s car before thinking better of it and slotting back into 3rd. Verstappen was up to 4th with King up to 8th. Towards the front of the grid also, Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) made a dreadful start and lost several places before he’d even managed to get off the line.
As the first laps developed, Ocon tried to fight back for the lead but Fuoco resisted for all he was worth, and Blomqvist kept on coming, which left Ocon with severely divided focus as he couldn’t afford to lose another place. Meanwhile there were yellows at Aintree where Jake Dennis (Carlin) had gone off, and right at the back Richard “Spike” Goddard (ThreeBond with T-Sport) was pretty much last having tangled with a bogged down Mitch Gilbert (Fortec Motorsport) at the start. The upshot saw both of them pit and Goddard rejoin.
A couple of laps later and Rosenqvist muscled his way through to 8th while just behind him Felix Serralles (Team West-TecF3) and Gustavo Menezes (Van Amersfoort Racing) were fighting for 12th. With tyres perhaps more worn than was wise, some drivers seemed to be having problems with grip – or more precisely lack thereof. Fuoco seemed to have no such issues and was now steadily building up a gap over Ocon. The order behind him had now changed though, as Verstappen dived through to claim 3rd from Blomqvist.
The Carlin driver tried to come back at the Dutchman but was badly boxed in behind the Prema pair and couldn’t make it stick despite having pulled alongside the Van Amersfoort car. He backed off and settled back in to 4th, believing that the move had been made under yellow flags. Later the officials would think otherwise and would take no action against Verstappen. Elsewhere people were running wide all over the shop, with Felipe Guimaraes (Double R Racing), in particular, going a long way off onto the grass before he could recover.
The top three were now also well clear of 4th place, Blomqvist acting like a stopper in a bottle. It looked a lot like the Carlin driver was really holding the rest of the pack up. Latifi in particular really wanted to pass and was trying really hard to get the better of the more experienced man up ahead. In the same pack Lucas Auer (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) managed to pass Ed Jones (Carlin), while Rosenqvist ran very wide as he fought his Dallara to a draw, losing places to both Giovinazzi and King.
Just to add to the fun, Roy Nissany (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) and Alexander Toril (ThreeBond with T-Sport) were having a bit of a scrap which eventually went the Spanish driver’s way, and ended with Nissany spinning out of 14th place. The move of the race, though, came when Verstappen caught Ocon as they ran into the Loop. Verstappen jinked to the outside, then shot through on the inside, having sold the Frenchman a dummy. Ocon tried to get the place back but Verstappen was having absolutely none of it. It was excellent driving from both of them, but 2nd was now Verstappen’s without a doubt as he started to pull away from the Prema driver.
With over half distance gone, Fuoco’s lead was starting to look a bit shaky as Verstappen began a pursuit of the tiny Italian. Fuoco wasn’t hanging about though and was quick to respond to the threat, setting a new fastest lap of the race as he did so. Shortly after there was a bit of a reshuffle in the pack, when Jones spun and dropped himself to 16th. That let Serralles into the top ten, and helped Rosenqvist no end as well, improving the Swede’s mood no end. If only Blomqvist could have been so fortunate. His tyre induced misery wasn’t over yet as Giovinazzi got the drop on him at Stowe, demoting him to 6th.
Just in case that wasn’t enough for you the battle for 10th got a bit hair-raising as Menezes got over-ambitious, before spinning out from 10th place and ending up back down in 18th, thus throwing away the chance of a point.
And so Fuoco, to the joy of his flag waving fan club, claimed his first victory of the season. “The start was fantastic and I overtook Esteban. My race pace was good and I was not having tyre problems like yesterday. With two new tyres today it was better. I got in front and there was no problem for the first five laps, thanks to the Prema team and my engineer. The championship is long, with 33 races and although this weekend was really good, at Hockenheim our testing was really fast.”
Verstappen was happy with his first “full” podium and though the weekend had improved immensely: “The first race was not what I had hoped for and in race 2 the start was not so good so I learnt a lot for race 3. There was a lot of front tyre degradation but the car worked really well and I overtook Tom Blomqvist. I fought Esteban for the second place and he was much better on the straight, but then Esteban had a little moment and I took the chance, otherwise it’s very difficult to pass here. For Hockenheim I like the track and the team was fastest there. My strength is to be fast immediately and on the pace straight away.”
Ocon was ruing the start, but at least leaves here leading the championship. “It’s been a good weekend, but Antonio got a better start and it is difficult to pass here. We got a bit too close and I destroyed the front left tyre and lost pace. We need to work a little bit to improve. At Hockenheim the team was really good there last year and I won my first single-seater race there, so it will be really useful. I think we all have the same strong points; we learnt together in karting, we are all quite aggressive and quick on the pace.”
Latifi was 4th from Giovinazzi, Blomqvist, Rosenqvist, Auer, King and Serralles. 11th went to Bryant-Meisner, van de Laar, Hector Hurst (Team West-TecF3), Toril, Jones, Nissany, Beretta, Menezes, Tatiana Calderon (Jo Zeller Racing) and Jules Szymkowiak. 21st was Goddard from Agostini, while Sean Gelael (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin finished two laps down and unclassified. Fuoco claimed the fastest lap of the race.
Race 3 Provisional Results:
1st – No. 25, Antonio Fuoco*, ITA, Prema Powerteam, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, 18 laps, 34:13.614
2nd – No. 30, Max Verstappen*, NLD, Van Amersfoort Racing, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 4.731
3rd – No. 2, Esteban Ocon*, FRA, Prema Powerteam, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 9.325
4th – No. 1, Nicholas Latifi, CDN, Prema Powerteam, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 17.322
5th – No. 19, Antonio Giovinazzi, ITA, Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 21.667
6th – No. 31, Tom Blomqvist, GBR, Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 25.945
7th – No. 27, Felix Rosenqvist, SWE, kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 26.266
8th – No. 3, Lucas Auer, AUT, kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 32.033
9th – No. 5, Jordan King, GBR, Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 33.437
10th – No. 21, Felix Serralles, PRT, Team West-TecF3, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 33.814
11th – No. 10, John Bryant Meisner, SWE, Fortec Motorsports, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 34.027
12th – No. 26, Dennis van de Laar, NLD, Prema Powerteam, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 34.448
13th – No. 22, Hector Hurst, GBR, Team West-TecF3, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 35.474
14th – No. 12, Alexander Toril, ESP, ThreeBond with T-Sport, Dallara F312, NBE, gap 35.792
15th – No. 6, Edward Jones, UAE, Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 38.021
16th – No. 4, Roy Nissany, ISR, kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 39.821
17th – No. 8, Michele Beretta*, ITA, Eurointernational, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 42.527
18th – No. 16, Gustavo Menezes, USA, Van Amersfoort Racing, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 43.205
19th – No. 18, Tatiana Calderon, COL, kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 45.972
20th – No. 15, Jules Szymkowiak*, NLD, Van Amersfoort Racing, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 48.697
21st – No. 11, Richard Goddard, AUS, ThreeBond with T-Sport, Dallara F312, NBE, gap 1:16.767
22nd – No. 7, Riccardo Agostini, ITA, Eurointernational, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, 2 laps
No. 20, Sean Gelael, IDN, Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, lap 16
No. 9, Mitch Gilbert, AUS, Fortec Motorsports, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, lap 2
No. 14, Felipe Guimaraes, BRA, Double R Racing, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, lap 1
No. 28, Jake Dennis*, GBR, Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, lap 1
No. 25, Antonio Fuoco*, ITA, Prema Powerteam, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, 1:53:005, lap 7, 116.6mph, 187.7kph
F3 FIA European Championship 2014 - Points After Round 3
1st – Esteban Ocon, 58 points
2nd – Antonio Fuoco, 52 points
3rd – Tom Blomqvist, 45 points
4th – Nicholas Latifi, 38 points
5th – Max Verstappen, 28 points
6th – Jordan King, 25 points
7th – Lucas Auer/Antonio Giovinazzi, 14 points
9th – Ed Jones, 10 points
10th – Felix Rosenqvist, 8 points
11th – Felix Serralles, 7 points
12th – Dennis van de Laar, 2 points
13th – Felipe Lopes Guimaraes/John Bryant Meisner, 1 point
14th – Alexander Toril/Gustavo Menezes/Hector Hurst/Jake Dennis/
Jules Szymkowiak/Michele Beretta/Mitch Gilbert/Riccardo Agostini/
Roy Nissany/Sean Gelael/Spike Goddard/Tatiana Calderon, 0 points