Magny-Cours Mercedes season finale notes

The Mücke team’s Dallara Mercedes driver Markus Winkelhock won the 19th and penultimate round of the 2003 Formula 3 Euro Series at Magny-Cours on Saturday. In Sunday’s 20th and final race of the season, his team mate Christian Klien...

The Mücke team’s Dallara Mercedes driver Markus Winkelhock won the 19th and penultimate round of the 2003 Formula 3 Euro Series at Magny-Cours on Saturday. In Sunday’s 20th and final race of the season, his team mate Christian Klien finished third behind winner Timo Glock (Dallara-Opel) and Robert Doornbos (Dallara-Mugen-Honda). Klien, who retired on Saturday, claimed runner-up position in the championship in his first Formula 3 year. In the 20 races of the Euro Series` first year, the Dallara Mercedes drivers achieved six race wins, eleven pole positions, 28 out of 60 podium finishes and 58 out of 160 points finishes. Of the seven drivers with the Mercedes-Benz engine M271 developed from the four-cylinder production engine of the C- and E-Class, five ended up among the top-ten overall: Champion Ryan Briscoe (Dallara-Opel) with 110 points and Klien with 89 were followed by Dallara Mercedes drivers Olivier Pla (Team ASM) in third place with 74 points, Winkelhock in fourth spot with 71, Alexandre Prémat (ASM), seventh with 50 and Bruno Spengler (ASM), tenth with 34 points. Klien also won the prestigious 2003 Formula 3 Marlboro Masters at Zandvoort in August. Opel, Sodemo-Renault, Toyota, Mugen-Honda and Mercedes-Benz are five well-known manufacturers to deliver engine for this prestigious Formula 3 series. Race 1: From second spot on the grid, Winkelhock accelerated into an immediate lead, when pole sitter Alexandros Margaritis stalled his Dallara-Opel at the start. Winkelhock maintained the lead until the chequered flag 16 laps later. The ASM team’s Dallara Mercedes driver Olivier Pla improved from fifth to second at the start, held off charging Fabio Carbone (Dallara-Renault) and finished second ahead of the Brazilian. Pla’s team mate Bruno Spengler retired on lap six due to a damaged diffusor whilst ASM driver Alexandre Prémat hit the retaining wall following a driving error on lap eight and retired. Klien’s race ended at the first corner’s gravel bed after being hit by Adam Carroll (Dallara-Opel) at the start.

Race 2: Klien had qualified sixth fastest and lost one spot after the start. He fought back and passed Pla to take sixth again on lap two, then improved to fifth on lap seven and overtook Prémat to take fourth on lap 11. Five laps from the end, Klien outbraked Margaritis and was third. Klien reduced the gap behind leader Glock from 2.5sec to 1.2sec and came home third. Prémat finished fifth whilst Pla ended up seventh. Winkelhock had a short off on lap three and came home ninth.

Christian Klien: „ With second place in the Championship, I achieved more than I could have dreamed of before the season. Today’s third place was a compensation for Saturday’s first-corner accident caused by Carroll - it was unnecessary.“

Olivier Pla: „We started well into the season, however, we suffered from several accidents preventing a better overall result. Therefore I’m not satisfied, because with our team’s potential a better result would have been possible.”

Markus Winkelhock: „I had expected more than fourth place at the beginning of the season, however, in the second half of the year I improved significantly and Saturday’s race win was an enjoyable finish for me.“

Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: “A nice and exciting first season of the Formula 3 Euro Series. Our teams and drivers did a good job, positions two, three and four in the Drivers`Championship and the Mücke team’s victory in the teams’ ranking are a good balance of our second year in Formula 3. In the Euro Series’ first year we have probably seen several drivers whom we can expect to see in Formula One in the future. This is one of the reasons, why Mercedes-Benz will continue to support this series and to promote young talents. Congratulations to Ryan Briscoe and the Prema team on winning the championship, they have been the best this year.”

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Series F3 Europe
Drivers Norbert Haug , Robert Doornbos , Ryan Briscoe , Fabio Carbone , Bruno Spengler , Christian Klien , Olivier Pla , Alexandre Prémat , Alexandros Margaritis , Markus Winkelhock