WEEKEND OF MIXED FORTUNES FOR MANOR AT NORISRING Germany's Norisring provided its usual dose of excitement and chaos during the third event of the 2009 Formula 3 Euroseries over the weekend, 27th/28th June, with Spaniard Roberto Merhi once again...
WEEKEND OF MIXED FORTUNES FOR MANOR AT NORISRING
Germany's Norisring provided its usual dose of excitement and chaos during the third event of the 2009 Formula 3 Euroseries over the weekend, 27th/28th June, with Spaniard Roberto Merhi once again producing some impressive performances for Manor Motorsport.
The British squad, based in Dinnington near Sheffield, concluded rounds five and six of the year fourth in the entrant standings while teenager Merhi is fourth in the driver's championship after taking away an excellent fifth place finish during the first race of the weekend.
Not for the first time, qualifying on Friday afternoon, 26th June, turned into something of a lottery with the session starting wet and then progressively drying towards the end. The top grid slots went to those drivers in the right place at the right time but unfortunately Manor's trio weren't among the fortunate ones.
Merhi lined up 12th on the grid for the opening race of the weekend on Saturday, 27th June, and he enjoyed a superb first lap by climbing into the top seven before setting about trying to find a way past Dutchman Henkie Waldschmidt as quickly as possible.
On lap eight, the Manor ace moved ahead into the top six and then a drive-through penalty for Adrien Tambay meant he was taken out of the front-running equation and Merhi was handed a further place into fifth position. Esteban Gutierrez was the Spaniard's next target and he passed him for fourth on lap 13.
The good move proved short-lived though, unfortunately, when Merhi ran too deep into the first hairpin at the start of the 14th tour and Gutierrez nipped back ahead to demote the Manor man to fifth.
Further behind, team-mates Pedro Enrique and Cesar Ramos were both having an impressive race after climbing up the order very well from 23rd and 26th on the grid respectively. Like Merhi, the Brazilian duo had a good opening lap to round five with Enrique lying in 16th place and Ramos up to 19th position.
On lap 19, heavy rain hit the Norisring which meant red flags were shown and the race was halted. Each car lined up on the grid to have tyres changed from slicks to treaded wet-weather rubber but by the time the race got back underway, the scheduled time limit had surpassed.
At this point round five was declared a result with Merhi finishing fifth, a gain of seven places on his starting slot, Enrique was 14th -- having climbed nine places -- and Ramos was 16th, a gain of 10 positions on his grid slot.
In round six earlier today, Sunday, 28th June, Merhi was again the top finisher for Manor but his race wasn't without incident. Managing to come through from fourth on the grid into the lead on lap five after an incident involving Sam Bird and Alexander Sims, 18-year-old Merhi slipped back following a Safety Car period around lap nine when passed by Christian Vietoris.
Back in fourth place and battling hard with Finnish driver Mika Maki, an unfortunate mistake at the second turn on the final lap meant Merhi ran wide and dropped to eighth position -- missing out on his second points result of the weekend. Moving up to second in the standings on Saturday, today's result has seen Merhi slip back to fourth in the championship.
Ramos secured by far his best finish since graduating to the F3 Euroseries at the start of 2009 with an impressive drive to a superb 10th place, having started 16th on the grid by virtue of his finishing result yesterday. Countryman Enrique, meanwhile, started in 14th place but ended the encounter down in 20th position after an action-packed outing.
Reflecting on the weekend, Manor Motorsport team principal John Booth said: "We had a very good day on Saturday, Roberto did a fantastic job from where he started as did Pedro and Cesar -- we were really pleased with the all-round team performance. Today it was all going well until the last few laps really but all in all it's been a decent weekend."
Rounds seven and eight of the 2009 Formula 3 Euroseries will take place three weeks from now over the weekend 18th/19th July at Zandvoort in the Netherlands.
Provisional 2009 Formula 3 Euroseries Driver Standings (after Rd6): 4th Roberto Merhi, 20pts; Cesar Ramos & Pedro Enrique -- No Score
Provisional 2009 Formula 3 Euroseries Team Standings (after Rd6): 4th Manor Motorsport, 20pts