F3

Masters: Volkswagen Zolder preview

Volkswagen at Formula 3 Masters with four quick, talented drivers Wolfsburg. Volkswagen's partner team Signature will tackle the challenge of fierce competition at the Formula 3 Masters at Zolder (08-10 August), Belgium: The four ...

Volkswagen at Formula 3 Masters with four quick, talented drivers

Wolfsburg. Volkswagen's partner team Signature will tackle the challenge of fierce competition at the Formula 3 Masters at Zolder (08-10 August), Belgium: The four Volkswagen-Dallara cars driven by Edoardo Mortara (Italy), the leader of the standings in the Formula 3 Euro Series, Franck Mailleux (France), Jean Karl Vernay (France) and Robert Wickens (Canada) will meet 32 other contenders. This annual event is contested by young talent from 17 nations who normally compete in the Formula 3 Euro Series and the British Formula 3 Championship.

"The Formula 3 Masters is a highly prestigious event even though it isn't part of any championship. Every year it brings together the best junior drivers and teams in a direct comparison. Many previous winners later managed the leap into Formula 1 or the DTM," comments Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "For the Formula 3 engine from the Volkswagen Group, the circuit at Zolder is new territory, whereas our partner team Signature has previously gathered positive experience there. Together - despite clearly dominant competition in terms of numbers - we want to achieve a good result there."

The Signature squad around Team Director Philippe Sinault took second and third place at Zolder in 2007. "Last year we found the right formula for this tradition-rich circuit and finished well. We're working hard on clinching another good result and using the momentum for the remaining races in the Formula 3 Euro Series. An exploit at Zolder would be great motivation for our fight for the championship," says Sinault.

Tyre gamble: three sets for two qualifying sessions and the race

Jean Karl Vernay clinched third place last year. "My last podium place was at the Norisring - needless to say I want to return to the podium. At the Formula 3 Masters you've got to lay the foundation for a good result in qualifying. If you finish among the top ten, anything's possible," said the 20-year-old Frenchman from the Red Bull Junior Team. The starting grid for the 28-lap race on Sunday is determined by a special procedure: First, the 36 contenders - divided into two groups by even and odd car numbers - compete in the first qualifying session for the top 20. The top 20 finishers then fight for places on the top ten rows of the grid, while the remaining drivers compete for positions 21 to 36.

For this multi-stage sprint, a clever tyre strategy is crucial because each driver may only use three sets of special Kumho tyres. "It would be perfect to use one set for the first qualifying, one for the second and one for the race," says Franck Mailleux. "But I expect that many drivers will be trying to make it into the top 20 at all cost and will use more than one new set in qualifying. That's why you've got to be very quick - right on the dot - if you want to save new tyres for the race." 21-year-old Mailleux started from the first row of the grid last year, running in second place for a long time before sitting a drive-through penalty due to jump starting, which caused him to lose positions. "Nevertheless, our performance last year was very good. The circuit at Zolder has two long straights and three chicanes, which is very hard on the brakes. This should suit our car and the Volkswagen engine well," says Mailleux.

The Formula 3 Masters, which originated at Zandvoort, the Netherlands, has been staged since 1991 - the winner of the inaugural race was David Coulthard. Due to noise abatement regulations at the Dutch coastal resort the organisers moved the race to Zolder, Belgium. Admission to the Formula 3 Masters event at the former Formula 1 circuit is free: ticket vouchers can be downloaded at www.cpz.nl and printed out.

-credit: volkswagen-motorsport.com

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About this article
Series F3
Drivers David Coulthard , Robert Wickens , Kris Nissen , Franck Mailleux , Edoardo Mortara , Jean-Karl Vernay , Philippe Sinault
Teams Volkswagen Motorsport