The final race of the three races for the FIA F3 European Championship on the Hockenheimring was filled with surprises including the winner!
At Hockenheim today Felix Rosenqvist (kfzteile24 Mucke Motorsport) came out a surprise winner of the third and final FIA F3 European Championship race of the weekend, leading home Felix Serralles (Fortec Motorsport) and Daniil Kvyat (Carlin), after a race that provided far more excitement than normal for the German circuit.
At the start there seemed to be some concern about the state of Alex Lynn’s front left wheel and the associated suspension, but despite Prema swarming all over the offending area, they sent him out with two new front tyres and that was that.
When the lights went out to signal the start of the race, pole sitter Kvyat made an F3 rookie mistake and didn’t get the clutch bite point right. As a result he was a mite sluggish off the line and both Rosenberg and Serralles took him (and almost by default Jordan King in another of the Carlin cars) completely by surprise. The Swede was in the lead, from 4th on the grid, well before he reached Turn 1, while King was punted up the rear by Lucas Auer (Prema Powerteam), Auer ending up with a damaged nose.
In a field of 29 there is always the possibility of chaos, and so it proved. In the middle of the field Josh Hill (Carlin) stalled, and was lucky that almost everyone missed him, while towards the back his team-mate, Jann Mardenborough, was somewhat premature setting off, thought better of it, hauled on the anchors, and then also stalled. Hill managed to get going, as did Mardenborough, but it cost them a lot of time.
And then it really got messy! Andre Rudersdorf (ma-con) was all over the kerbs and managed to push Sean Gelael (Double R Racing) wide enough that the Indonesian lost control, smacked into the barriers and became a passenger. He veered across the track and collected Richard “Spike” Goddard (ThreeBond with T-Sport) and Roy Nissany (kfzteile24 Mucke Motorsport). There was debris spread over a wide area and the officials had no choice but to scramble the safety car once more.
Rosenqvist settled in to lead the pack round, with Serralles in 2nd, from King, Kvyat, Lynn, Raffaele Marciello (Prema Powerteam) who had started back in 10th, Tom Blomqvist (Eurointernational), Sven Müller (ma-con), Eddie Cheever (Prema Powerteam) and William Buller (ThreeBond with T-Sport). 11th was Harry Tincknell (Carlin), ahead of Nicholas Latifi (Carlin), Pipo Derani (Fortec Motorsport), Lucas Wolf (URD Rennsport), Dennis van der Laar (Van Amersfoort Racing), Måns Grenhagen (Van Amersfoort Racing), Antonio Giovinazzi (Double R Racing), Michael Lewis (kfzteile24 Mucke Motorsport), Sandro Zeller (Jo Zeller Racing) and Edward Jones (Fortec Motorsport). In 21st and 22nd respectively was the recovering duo of Mardenborough, and Hill, ahead of Tatiana Calderon (Double R Racing), Mitchell Gilbert (kfzteile24 Mucke Motorsport), and Auer (with a new wing).
Hill gained a place almost immediately when the officials penalised Mardenborough for what was, at least technically, a jump start. He was awarded a drive through for it, which seemed a tad harsh under the circumstances. Meanwhile all parties involved in the crash were now under investigation, which did seem fair.
At the restart all was relatively calm, as Mardenborough came in and served his penalty and Rosenqvist held position at the top of the leader board. In the pack King saw an opportunity to nip past Serralles for 2nd, while Müller took 7th from Blomqvist. That all meant a fight back was on the cards. It wasn’t long in coming, and Serralles made great move on King to take back what he felt was his. King came back at him though, and he was back into 2nd.
In the pack, Buller was barged into a spin at the Sachs Kurve after a hefty nudge from Tincknell, the result being a large hole in the nose of “Tink’s” car. Oh, and a drive through penalty for Tincknell for “pushing another car”. Back up at the sharp end Kvyat was now 4th, with Marciello through for 5th after he took Lynn up the inside at the Sachs Kurve. Meanwhile King went ran wide and almost let Serralles through. And that was all the invitation Serralles needed to take his 2nd place back.
King fell back a little after that and was soon caught be Kvyat, who was all over his team mate at the first opportunity he got, probably all the while acutely aware of Marciello looming in his mirrors in a manner that made you want to hum the theme tune from “Jaws”. It didn’t stop the Russian from continuing the fight, although just for good measure Lynn was now very close to Marciello as well. When Kvyat finally went for it there was nothing King could do to stop him; he was through and into 3rd. Now all King could do was try to hold off Marciello, which wouldn’t be easy.
Further back, the hero of Saturday evening’s race, Hill, had fought his way back up to 15th, and was now stuck behind Lewis, who was putting up quite a defence of 14th place. Hill was hampered somewhat by having Auer dogging his every move, but he was still trying hard. Eventually Auer found his way past, although there were some pretty wild moves involved. They weren’t the only ones…
While Lynn, Grenhagen and Wolf were all getting black and white warning flags, King ran wide at the Sachs Kurve, which was all Marciello needed. He was through and into 4th which was more than he might have expected starting from the fifth row. A few seconds later and Serralles also ran wide; luckily for him Kvyat followed him and no pride was hurt. He also waved apologetically as if to say “I didn’t mean to do that”.
Elsewhere Müller had a go at Lynn for 6th but couldn’t quite make it stick, while King did get alongside Marciello, but again he couldn’t quite make it stick. It did help him towards the fastest lap of the race though and may have given Marciello something to think about for the future as well, proving that Carlin are also beginning to get to grips with this series.
As Rosenqvist continued round to claim victory, Auer and Hill were now looking for ways past Latifi and van der Laar. In a move that was almost a carbon copy of what Hill did yesterday to claim his first podium, Auer went round the outside of both of them in front of a packed Sachs Kurve grandstand, and Hill followed him through, moving them to 12th and 13th respectively.
After the race, Rosenqvist was pleased with his result, as well he might be: “The start was good and I was first on the first lap, but unfortunately then the safety car was bad for me because I’d started to build up a little bit of a gap. Luckily something happened at the back so I got away again. I don’t think too much about the championship at the moment; last year I did and got too crazy about it so I’ll just concentrate and get podiums. Mucke have made some progress and by Brands Hatch we’ll have done some more.”
Serralles was positively delighted: “It’s been a good weekend so far and I am happy to finish on the podium again. I made a mistake on the restart and Felix got away and Daniil was very close to me all the time so I had to work hard. For Brands Hatch I’m very confident in myself and the team as we ran well there last year but with a 40-second lap and more cars it’s going to be difficult. We just have to wait and see.”
Kvyat was sanguine about his start: “In qualifying I had a good run but I have to make better starts in F3 if I want to win. I overtook my teammate Jordan and was getting pressure from him while I tried to catch Felix, and then I couldn’t get close enough to overtake him. I’m in GP3 next week so this is a good start to the year. It’s 50/50 if I do another Euroseries F3 race right now.”
4th place (effectively 3rd because Kvyat is a guest driver and thus cannot score points) was Marciello, from King, Lynn, Müller, Blomqvist, Cheever and Derani. In 11th in the end was Wolf, from Auer, Hill, van de Laar, Latifi, Lewis, Buller, Gilbert, Grenhagen and Jones. Zeller finished 21st, holding off Mardenborough, while behind them Calderon, Giovinazzi and Tincknell brought up the rear.
The fastest lap was set by King.
Weather: Overcast, cool. Temperature – air: 13.0°C, track: 18.3°C.
Next Rounds: Rounds 10, 11 & 12, Brands Hatch, England, May 17th/19th