3 and 1 for Jean-Karl Vernay! The final round of the Formula 3 Euro Series provided the stage for Jean- Karl Vernay to get back to winning ways. His first taste of champagne came with a podium place in Race 1 and he set the corks popping again...
3 and 1 for Jean-Karl Vernay!
The final round of the Formula 3 Euro Series provided the stage for Jean- Karl Vernay to get back to winning ways. His first taste of champagne came with a podium place in Race 1 and he set the corks popping again with a splendid victory in Race 2. The event saw him fastest in open practice before going on to clock the fastest lap in Sunday's Race and bag the biggest tally of points of any driver over the weekend. The man from Lyon finished the season in 5th place and took the symbolic top VW driver title. Next up is Macao!
The way he has performed this year, Jean-Karl Vernay would also qualify for the title of 'Hockenheim Meister', if there was one! He was already a winner last May on this circuit. It's a tradition: what is usually the most hotly-contested of F3 championship starts and ends its European tour on the outskirts of Mannheim. The weather was fine last spring but for this autumn's meeting the barometer reading was more uncertain. Rain tyres were on during open practice, and Jean-Karl was in his element as he dominated proceedings. He was hoping to be among the front-runners in qualifying as he had been in Dijon two weeks before. In the vital moments the track was damp. It was not raining but the threat of a new downpour had everyone dashing to get their best laps in at the start of the session.
"I got held up when I made my first attempts and just as the traffic ahead was thinning out the red flag came out after two excellent partial times," explained Jean-Karl. As feared, the rain came and made any improvement out of the question. It was rather like a lottery. Jean-Karl eventually got 6th place on the Race 1 starting grid.
He got off to a great start in Saturday's race. He left Wittmann standing and managed to get by Garcia. The next car in the Signature driver's sights was Mehri's. He took the Spaniard's place when the latter made a mistake in front of the Mercedes stand. Jean-Karl then closed in fast on Bottas but ran out of laps in which to put any real pressure on the Finn. He finished a good 3rd with the 2nd fastest lap of the race.
Sunday saw the sun doing its best to dry out a wet track and setting a dilemma for the teams. Should they mount slicks? Or rain tyres, even if it meant a pit stop to change them during the course of the race? Signature decided to opt for the second solution. Once again 6th on the grid, this time thanks to the 8-place reverse grid rule, Jean-Karl fell back eight places in the first lap! "Those of us on the right of the track were left floundering because there was no grip there compared to the left-hand side. Fortunately the car was going like a bomb and I still had 40 minutes to make up the lost ground. Each lap I managed to get past someone and that way I was soon back up to 3rd." Half-way through the race the track had dried out sufficiently for Jean-Karl to come in to mount slicks. So he cut short his battle with Bottas and came into the pits. He was back down in 14th place when he emerged again but nothing seemed to be able to stop him from then on. He broke his personal best for the number of overtakes in a race and trumped Zanella on the final lap to come home a glorious winner.
Then it was time to tot up the results. Jean-Karl finished the season in 5th place in the championship, ahead of all the other competitors driving VW-powered cars. His tally for the season was five podium places, including two victories. During qualifying he finished ahead of his team-mates Maki and Geronimi six times out on ten. The cherry on the cake for him would be a win in Macao, where he will go with the Signature team next November 21- 22.