Marciello left the historic circuit in Silverstone with the championship points lead despite the weather. Soon the F3 drives will contest the famous Hockenheimring!
At Silverstone on Saturday morning it was Harry Tincknell (Carlin) who proved the class of the field with a lights to flag win, though not for want of trying on the part of Alex Lynn (Prema Powerteam), the latter challenging the winner repeatedly though not quite managing to find a way past. Third place went to Felix Rosenqvist (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), the Swede also having a strong race, though he couldn’t quite get on the case of the other two.
At the start, Tincknell made no mistake and powered into the lead, Lynn and Rosenqvist staying with him into the first corner. Meanwhile, Nicholas Latifi (Carlin), under the watchful eye of Anthony Hamilton, was up to 5th just ahead of William Buller (ThreeBond with T-Sport). It was some consolation to the T-Sport boys, as their other car, in the hands of Richard “Spike” Goddard, which had started back in 18th, was now off the track and causing waved yellows.
While Lynn powered round in pursuit of the leader, netting himself an early fastest lap of the race, his team mate from last year, Felix Serralles (Fortec Motorsport), was up to 12th having made a stunning start that helped him gain six places on the first lap.
Meanwhile, Jordan King (Carlin) had got the drop on Tom Blomqvist (Eurointernational) while Dennis van de Laar (Van Amersfoort Racing) had fallen right back down the order. This helped Serralles who was now 11th, having found his way past Sven Müller (ma-con) and was showing no sign of stopping at that with what was developing into a very impressive drive.
Back to the front, meanwhile, the pressure Lynn was putting on the leader wasn’t working in the way he’d hoped, and “Tinks” promptly responded with a new fastest lap of the race. At the other end of the order, Sean Gelael (Double R Racing) had managed to collect himself a drive through penalty for speeding in the pitlane, though it wouldn’t make a vast amount of difference to the Indonesian who seems to be somewhat on the slow side so far.
Up in third, Rosenqvist’s interesting morning was continuing as Latifi made a serious attempt to get through for a potential podium position. The Swede resisted, making full use of his four years of F3 experience to hold off the far less experienced teenager. Latifi kept right on trying though, including an attempt to get round the outside, though that too was doomed to failure.
That third placed battle was of great benefit to Lynn, in fact, enabling him to concentrate solely on Tincknell, as the two of them started to open up an increasing gap over Rosenqvist and Latifi. Both battles were absorbing to watch, though they were not the only points of interest. Luis Felipe “Pipo” Derani (Fortec Motorsport) was also on the move, claiming 9th from Blomqvist, and followed almost immediately afterwards by Serralles, the Puerto Rican never one to miss a chance.
Also on the move was Lucas Auer (Prema Powerteam), the youngster setting a new fastest lap as he charged up the order, eventually catching and passing Raffaele Marciello, also driving for Prema, to claim 6th place. Another man on the move, though further back, was Jann Mardenborough (Carlin) who had just got the drop on Josh Hill (Fortec Motorsport) for 13th. Hill then lost another place to Michael Lewis (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), and would eventually retire with damage to the aerodynamic package.
There was a sense of inevitability about what happened next. King decided to have a go at Marciello, who was trying to find a way back past Auer, the trio briefly running three abreast. The upshot was that Auer stayed ahead, and King fell back within the reach of Derani and Serralles, not something a rookie driver really wants to see reflected in their mirrors. The only thing saving the youngster was probably the fact that they were having to concentrate on each other and thus didn’t have much to spare for him.
At the halfway stage the top ten was Tincknell, from Lynn, Rosenqvist, Latifi, Buller, Auer, Marciello, King, Derani and Serralles Shortly after that Auer got ahead of Buller, which meant life was about to get a whole lot more complicated for Latifi in 4th as the Austrian caught up with him hand over fist. Meanwhile Serralles had nipped past Derani to snatch 9th from his own team-mate. The battle that started last year is still on at Fortec it seems…
The battle for the lead was also still raging, and it was clear that Lynn hadn’t given up on getting Tinks, he just couldn’t figure out how to do it. There was some lessons that could have been useful going on behind. Buller was now having to hold off Marciello, and both of them were employing some pretty aggressive driving that was highly entertaining to watch for anyone without a vested interest in either driver. If you did have any connection to them, it was just plain scary.
Also scary was Serralles and Derani, the Fortec pair now on the hunt for King and 8th place, Serralles finding a way through in the closing laps of the race, while shortly afterwards Derani also barged past the less experienced man. To add insult to injury, Blomqvist stole 10th from King on the last lap; however King wasn’t too disappointed afterwards. He knew he’d acquitted himself well against far more experienced drivers and he’d hung onto his position for as long as anyone could have expected him to.
Also towards the end of the race, Mardenborough lost a place to Lewis – and got a warning flag as well – and then found himself dropping even further back, when he got mugged by Antonio Giovinazzi (Double R Racing), Mans Grenhagen (Van Amersfoort Racing) and Mitchell Gilbert (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport). It was something of a baptism of fire for the youngster.
A last minute change also saw Auer snatch 4th place from Latifi not long before the end, the Austrian on a charge that also saw him claim the fastest lap of the race, which was perhaps not that surprising.
Later Tincknell was very pleased with his win: “I’m really happy for the team who worked so hard over the winter. I knew that with good knowledge of Silverstone and a strong car here we would be competitive, which we showed in qualifying. It was certainly a hard race, and Alex pushed me all the way but I felt really confident in the car and I’m really happy for the boys that we have a win at this early point in the season. In the opening laps it was still quite damp, but as the race went on the track started to dry up and I was able to get down to the times I was doing in qualifying.”
In 2nd was Lynn, from Rosenqvist, Auer, Latifi, Marciello, Buller, Serralles, Derani, and Blomqvist. 11th went to King, beating home Muller, Lewis, Giovinazzi, Grenhagen, Gilbert, Mardenborough, van de Laar, Lucas Wolf (URD Rennsport) and Eddie Cheever (Prema Powerteam). 21st was Andre Rudersdorf (ma-con), from Roy Nissany (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), ahead of Tatiana Calderon (Double R Racing), Goddard, Gelael and Gary Thompson (Romeo Ferraris).
The second race of the day saw an immediate appearance of the Safety Car
After a brief moment or two of sunshine, the suggestion that spring might have finally sprung at Silverstone on Saturday afternoon was very swiftly scuppered, as were the hopes of anyone who thought they could stop Felix Rosenqvist (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) on his way to victory in the second of the three FIA European F3 races this weekend. He was chased home by Raffaele Marciello (Prema Powerteam) and Lucas Auer, also of Prema.
At the front Rosenqvist had made a good start to lead from Harry Tincknell (Carlin), the latter making a very tardy getaway. In 3rd was William Buller (ThreeBond with T-Sport), while 4th was Mans Grenhagen (Van Amersfoort Racing), Nicholas Latifi (Carlin), Sven Müller (ma-con), Tom Blomqvist (Eurointernational), Josh Hill (Fortec Motorsport), Marciello and Jordan King (Carlin).
In 11th was Auer, ahead of Pipo Derani (Fortec Motorsport), Michael Lewis (kfzteile24 Mucke Motorsport), Dennis van de Laar (Van Amersfoort Racing), Lucas Wolf (URD Rennsport), Eddie Cheever (Prema Powerteam), Sean Gelael (Double R Racing), Richard “Spike” Goddard (ThreeBond with T-Sport), Mitchell Gilbert (kfzteile24 Mucke Motorsport) and Alex Lynn (Prema Powerteam).
21st was Sandro Zeller (Jo Zeller Racing), from Roy Nissany (kfzteile24 Mucke Motorsport), Gary Thompson (Romeo Ferraris), Andre Rudersdorf (ma-con) and Tatiana Calderon (Double R Racing).
With the field now contained, the Safety Car led them in convoy through the pitlane as the clean-up work went on. It took three laps before the race could go live again, and for a moment it looked as if we might be straight back to Safety Car conditions when Mueller managed to crash into Latifi, spin himself off and collect Grenhagen as well before they even crossed the line for the actual restart. Luckily there was no blockage, and the race stayed live though Mueller was out on the spot and Grenhagen would limp to the pits to retire.
The main beneficiary of the mayhem was probably Lynn, the Englishman gaining five places at the restart, while also in the pack, Marciello stole 6th from King, and van de Laar went through to claim 10th from Lewis. The person to come out of the restart worst was Rosenqvist, the erstwhile leader. He lost out to both Tincknell and Buller, having forgotten what had been said in the drivers’ briefing about where the race would restart from. There would be some work to do if was going to be forgiven by his team for that!
Having started his charge through the order, Marciello set the first fastest lap of the race as he set about Blomqvist with enthusiasm. Blomqvist tried to fight back, while Hill clung onto his rear wing for dear life, probably gaining some useful tips as he did so. Lynn was also still on the move and was up to 11th, a gain of 9 places since the race started.
While the officials announced that Muller’s part in the restart was under investigation, Rosenqvist found his way past Buller to loom large on the Carlin driver’s shoulder. As rain started to spot the track, there was another sort out in the middle of the pack, which saw Auer leapfrog to 7th, while Blomqvist suddenly had his hands full with Marciello, probably to the relief of Buller who clearly just wanted Blomqvist to leave him alone!
While Lynn set a new fastest lap as he continued to scythe through the field, Tincknell continued to manfully try and keep Rosenqvist at bay, and Auer battled his way past Hill for 6th. A lap later Rosenqvist finally forced his way past Tincknell, although he had to take to the grass to do it. It was a brave move, but I suppose having given the lead away he didn’t feel he had any alternative!
With just over 10 minutes of the race left now, Rosenqvist started to open a gap over Tincknell, while behind them it was all kicking off again. Lynn barged by Derani for 9th, and about the same time Buller dropped a wheel on the kerbs and spun himself out of the battle, losing six places before he could get going again. That let Marciello up to 3rd and assisted Auer on his way past Blomqvist. Buller’s misery was compounded when Derani also nipped through, dumping him to 10th.
He might have taken some satisfaction from seeing what happened next as Derani suddenly found himself at the mercy of Lynn, who came up hard and fast in his mirrors and simply bundled the Brazilian out of the way to go 7th. The sheer speed of the Prema cars takes some believing, though Tincknell was left in no doubt about it as he got a first-hand demonstration when Marciello and Auer bought caught up with him.
What seemed to be a damaged floor was doing nothing to help Tincknell, and it wasn’t long before both the Italian cars were through, leaving a frustrated Englishman in their wake. He now had Blomqvist and Hill to deal with, and as if that were not bad enough, Lynn was also catching them. There wasn’t much of the race left to run now, but it was going to feel like a very long way to the flag for the Carlin driver.
He was saved by Hill deciding to take a long, hard look at Blomqvist for 5th, which meant that Blomqvist had to worry about what was happening behind him, rather than looking ahead. Hill’s effort was a brave one, but he couldn’t quite make it stick, especially with Lynn looming in his mirrors. He was disappointed though he cannot have been surprised when Lynn went for it on the final lap and squeezed through at the Complex, within sight of the flag.
And so Rosenqvist claimed the victory, despite making it complicated for himself. Marciello and Auer were 2nd and 3rd, from Tincknell, Blomqvist, Lynn, Hill, Derani, Buller and Cheever. Lewis was 11th, ahead of van de Laar, Wolf, Gilbert, Goddard, Gelael, Rudersdorf, Nissany, Calderon and Zeller. 21st was Grenhagen.
The drivers had a break before the third and final race but the morning rain on Sunday led to changing track conditions
The final race of the weekend in the FIA F3 European Championship was won by Raffaele Marciello (Prema Powerteam), the Italian beating Felix Rosenqvist to the flag after a massive battle in the closing stages saw the Swede robbed of the lead on the Hangar Straight. 3rd went to pole sitter Alex Lynn (Prema Powerteam), after he got caught out at the start by a damp patch on the grid. That allowed Rosenqvist to power into the lead while Lynn attempted to hold off Marciello and salvage something.
Others who were caught out were Josh Hill (Fortec Motorsport), who ended up parked against the barriers, Sven Müller (ma-con) who was stranded in the middle of the track, Michael Lewis (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) who joined Cheever on the sidelines, Richard “Spike” Goddard (ThreeBond with T-Sport) and Mitchell Gilbert (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport). Oh, and is that wasn’t enough, van Amersfoort Racing’s Dennis van de Laar also came a cropper, though he at least managed to limp back to the pits – there was quite enough wreckage out there as it was.
With so many cars stopped around the track a Safety Car was inevitable, and it quickly took control of the field while snatch vehicles and marshals were mobilized to clean up the mess. Even with the field now trundling slowly round, there had been some progress with William Buller (ThreeBond with T-Sport) trailing Marciello and looking ready to launch an attack, while Tom Blomqvist (Eurointernational) was up 14 places in 14th having started dead last.
However, any further improvements would have to wait until the track was clear again. They settled in, with Rosenqvist leading Lynn, Marciello, Buller, Wolf, Lucas Auer (Prema Powerteam), Jordan King (Carlin), Jann Mardenborough (Carlin), Felix Serralles (Fortec Motorsport), Nicholas Latifi (Carlin) and Harry Tincknell (Carlin). 11th at this point was Sandro Zeller (Jo Zeller Racing), though he was about to pit, from Antonio Giovinazzi (Double R Racing), Pipo Derani (Fortec Motorsport), Blomqvist, Sean Gelael (Double R Racing), Roy Nissany (Mücke Motorsport), Andre Rudersdorf (ma-con), Gary Thompson (Romeo Ferraris), Mans Grenhagen (Van Amersfoort Racing), Tatiana Calderon (Double R Racing), and van de Laar, who was another about to pull into the pits.
Close observation a lap later suggested there was some confusion in the pack and they sorted themselves out into the correct order before the race restarted, the proper order being Rosenqvist, from Marciello, Lynn, Buller, Wolf, King, Auer, Mardenborough, Serralles and Latifi. In 11th it was actually Tincknell, ahead of Giovinazzi, Derani, Blomqvist, Gelael, Rudersdorf, Thompson, Calderon, Grenhagen and Zeller, who had rejoined in 20th. Van der Laar remained in the pits, and was joined there by Nissany, the last of the raft of early stage retirements.
With just 19 cars left at the restart Rosenqvist proved he’d learned from Saturday’s restart and he controlled it well, but Marciello had got the drop on Lynn for 2nd and was breathing down his exhaust now. Behind them Buller was mugged by Wolf for 4th, while Auer, who had been on his wing, lost out to King at the restart, and then shortly afterwards to Serralles and Mardenborough in a general swap round.
Buller promptly fought back and it all got very lairy, with the man to benefit being Serralles who barged through to 4th – the Puerto Rican loves tricky conditions, as his new fastest lap of the race proved. He was helped slightly by Wolf finding that the increasingly dry line was a problem when running on wet weather tyres. He promptly lose another three places to King, Mardenborough and Auer, and the rot had clearly now set in. It had been a long shot, and the team had gambled on it and lost.
Another one in trouble was Blomqvist, who pitted and lost all the ground he had gained, rejoining in 19th and last. Meanwhile, at the front, Rosenqvist was still ahead of Marciello, with Lynn falling back slightly, with clear air between himself and Serralles.
A lap later and Wolf lost yet another place, while Grenhagen moved into 15th and Calderon took 17th from Rudersdorf. Meanwhile, Derani was shown the orange and black flag to indicate that there was damage to his car and he should pit to have it dealt with. The front wing was heavily mangled and the Brazilian’s race ended in the pits.
As Serralles and Marciello traded fastest laps, Marciello finally caught right up with Rosenqvist. He was all over the Swede as they screamed down past the new Wing building, trying to get round the outside and with eight and a half minutes left on the clock, Rosenqvist was having to work incredibly hard to keep the Italian at bay. The chances of him holding position all the way to the flag seemed slight, as the Prema car seemed to be improving as the line dried out more and more, while the Mücke car was beginning to go off.
Behind them, Lynn was briefly in possession of the latest fastest lap of the race as he tried to catch up with the lead pair, but with Serralles also running in clear air, he soon wrested that honour from the Prema driver. Just behind him, there was a battle for 5th with Buller holding off King and Mardenborough for 5th, and Auer hovering just behind them, ready to get in on the act at a moment’s notice.
With six minutes to go, Wolf had fallen to 16th, Blomqvist caught and passed Rudersdorf, and King was bravely having a go at Buller. All eyes were on Marciello now though was he closed right in on Rosenqvist as they exited Copse. He saw an opportunity and pulled out to try and pass the Swede and for three or four laps the pair repeatedly ran side by side as Rosenqvist resisted for all he was worth. Luck was not on his side though, not with Marciello really, really wanting the win.
“All weekend conditions were horrible and unpredictable. I hit a wet patch at Maggots and then ran wide at Becketts.” That was all it took; Marciello saw his chance and was through and away into the distance with less than two minutes on the clock, leaving Felix to come home in the runner up’s slot. He wasn’t exactly delighted afterwards. Lynn was still cruising round in 3rd and stayed there all the way to the finish, ruing what was “a disappointing race from my point of view…I made an average start then didn’t get a good restart, and we did just not have the pace like the two up the front.”
Behind him Serralles was clear in 4th, with the main interest right to the flag being provided by Buller and the chasing gaggle of King, Mardenborough, Auer and now Tincknell as well. In the closing stages Auer made his move and set about Mardenborough, trying to wrestle the place from the Carlin driver. At the same time King had another go at Buller, showing that he has a lot of guts, because a lot of people wouldn’t tackle Buller – he’s a tough and very experienced racer and he won’t give an inch. King’s move failed and he settled back into 6th; while Auer did get through for 7th just before the flag.
With the race running to 16 laps instead of the scheduled 18, Marciello came home over a second clear of a disappointed Rosenqvist, to consolidate his lead in the championship ahead of Hockenheim in early May. Lynn was a lonely 3rd from Serralles, Buller, King, Auer, Mardenborough, Tincknell and Latifi. Giovinazzi ended up 11th, from Grenhagen, Thompson, Blomqvist, Calderon, Rudersdorf, Wolf and Gelael, who stopped out on the track a couple of corners from the end. The fastest lap of the race went to Serralles.
Next Meeting: May 4th/5th, Hockenheim, Germany.