At Vallelunga this morning, when it looked as if Raffaele Marciello (Prema Powerteam) was about to wrap up the 2013 FIA F3 European title after his only remaining rival, Felix Rosenqvist (kfz-teile24 Mücke Motorsport) had a disastrous qualifying, the series chase again came alive when Marciello failed to score any points in Race 2 of the weekend and Rosenqvist put in another storming drive from 27th to 9th. The race winner was Alex Lynn (Prema Powerteam) from Alexander Sims (ThreeBond with T-Sport) and Daniil Kvyat (Carlin).
At the start it was all over for Marciello when he stalled on the grid. As he was starting from 2nd it was a miracle everyone managed to miss him, but miss him they did, Lynn storming away into the lead, while the pack behind jostled and shoved. In the melee both Jann Mardenborough (Carlin) and Jordan King (Carlin) ran into problems, Mardenborough ending up in the gravel, while King limped round to the pits.
Rosenqvist, meanwhile, must have had some sort of force field around his car, because he’d gained 10 places by the end of lap 1 and was just as fired up as he had been yesterday afternoon. This championship is a long way from over… So was the race, mind, and a Safety Car period was declared while Mardenborough’s car was rescued.
At the restart Rosenqvist lost a place to Blomqvist, but you knew he wasn’t going to take that lying down, and sure enough he didn’t. A lap later and he was back ahead and in pursuit of the squabbling pack that included Nissany, Serralles, Calderon, Gelael and Goddard. At the front Lynn controlled in nicely and was soon powering away again, his new tyres giving him the advantage over Sims who was running on old rubber.
Behind them, Auer launched an attack on Derani for 5th that didn’t quite come off, while Serralles took 12th back from Nissany, and then moved up to 10th, as he tried to recover the ground he lost at the start. A couple of laps later and he was 9th, having passed Bryant-Meisner.
Giovinazzi was running strongly this morning too, as demonstrated when he took 7th from Mueller, who is not an easy man to pass at the best of times. The Italian seems far more comfortable in the car now he has a season’s experience under his belt, so maybe that was not a big surprise.
The surprising stuff was going on further back where Wolf was apparently in trouble, the car locking up all over and taking up some pretty extreme positions. Also towards the back, Rosenqvist was up to 16th, having passed Goddard, while Blomqvist was finding the Australian a difficult challenge as he tried to follow through as well. He finally got through just as Goddard came under investigation for jump start. That meant he and Rosenqvist were now on the tail of Nissany, Calderon and Gelael who were locked in a three-way scrap and not necessarily aware of what was happening behind them.
While Lynn continued to pull out a gap, Rosenqvist gained another brace of places when he took Gelael, and then went up the inside of Calderon on lap 7. Blomqvist followed him and they both set about Nissany. Goddard, meanwhile, had been awarded a drive through penalty, as had King (which was going to be difficult since he wasn’t running). The pits were quite busy one way and another, Goddard coming in to serve his penalty just as Wolf also pitted for a new tyre.
On the track, Auer had taken 5th from Derani, while behind them Latifi was all over Bryant-Meisner and Serralles. The upshot of that was one retired Puerto Rican after the Canadian got on the kerbs, twitched slightly and knocked the Fortec car sideways and into the gravel. As if that were not enough, Wolf’s race had also ended when he speared off the track and hit the barriers, necessitating yet another Safety Car, just as Rosenqvist had battled through for 12th.
The order now was still Lynn, from Sims, Kvyat, Cheever, Auer, Derani, Giovinazzi, Müller, Bryant-Meisner and van de Laar. Latifi was 11th just ahead of Rosenqvist, Nissany, Blomqvist, Calderon, Gilbert, Tincknell, Lewis, Rudersdorf and Zeller, with Gelael and Goddard bringing up the rear.
Again Lynn controlled the restart, and with 15 minutes left we were racing again. Kvyat challenged Sims for 2nd but Sims resisted fiercely, the Russian having a wobbly moment as he tried to get round the outside. Further back, Rosenqvist was through on Latifi, and on the attack. A truly alarming moment saw van de Laar, Bryant-Meisner and Rosenqvist running three abreast, Bryant-Meisner nearly taking out his countryman to the despair of the Swedish press contingent watching nervously. Rosenqvist recovered and was through for 10th, and promptly set about van de Laar.
As the race wound down, van de Laar was driving a very wide car, but Rosenqvist persisted, trying all sorts before he finally found his way past the Dutchman with three minutes left on the clock. It was a good result after a fraught morning for the Swede, and puts him just 28.5 points adrift of Marciello with four races (and 100 points) still up for grabs.
And so Lynn came home to win at Prema’s home track. It had been a quiet race, apart from the two restarts, but he wasn’t complaining: “If only all races were like that all the time. I had a half set of new tyres so I knew I should be faster than Alexander.” He was happy with the team too, and keen to thank them. “It’s thanks to the guys for changing a few things overnight to get things faster.”
Sims had had a quietish time too, but he was fine with that: “I made a lot of friends in the paddock this weekend so I‘m not too lonely. It was good to have half an hour alone out there! I had old tyres but I really didn’t think about it before. The team had to remind me that Alex was on new rubber.” Even Kvyat going on the attack had not bothered him much.
Cheever came home 4th, from Auer, Derani, Giovinazzi, Mueller, Rosenqvist and Bryant-Meisner. 11th was Latifi, from Blomqvist, Nissany, Gilbert, Lewis, van de Laar, Goddard, Tincknell, Rudersdorf and Calderon, the latter getting a driving standards flag after a tense battle with Lewis and Gilbert that saw the Mücke pair struggle to pass the Colombian. The final two finishers were Gelael and Zeller.
Fastest lap of the race was again set by Lynn, making two out of two so far for the Englishman.