Pau F3: Fenestraz survives collision to claim maiden win

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Pau F3: Fenestraz survives collision to claim maiden win
By: Marcus Simmons
May 13, 2018, 10:39 AM

Renault F1 junior Sacha Fenestraz survived contact in the dramatic second race of the Formula 3 European Championship opener at Pau to take victory and move into the points lead.

Sacha Fenestraz, Carlin Dallara F317 - Volkswagen
Sacha Fenestraz, Carlin Dallara F317 - Volkswagen
Marcus Armstrong, PREMA Theodore Racing Dallara F317 - Mercedes-Benz
Julian Hanses, ma-con Dallara F317 - Volkswagen
Mick Schumacher, PREMA Theodore Racing Dallara F317 – Mercedes-Benz
Guanyu Zhou, PREMA Theodore Racing Dallara F317 - Mercedes-Benz leads
Dan Ticktum, Motopark Dallara F317 - Volkswagen

Fenestraz’s Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen came under intense pressure over the first half of the race from surprise package Fabio Scherer.

The Swiss Motopark driver, a graduate of German Formula 4, was glued to Fenestraz for the first couple of laps before the leader inched out at advantage.

But then the safety car appeared, when Devlin DeFrancesco and Artem Petrov tangled at the Pont Oscar left-hander.

Scherer anticipated the restart perfectly, and tried to pass Fenestraz around the outside of Gare, but the crowd favourite remained in front.

A short shower of rain made life difficult for Fenestraz in judging the conditions, Scherer drawing alongside at the Lycee hairpin as Alex Palou in turn latched his Hitech GP car onto the leading duo.

Things came to a head on the 14th lap, just as the rain had passed, when Palou feinted a move on Scherer at Lycee.

Scherer darted to the inside and covered off Palou’s path, but his line carried him into a collision course with Fenestraz, his left-rear wheel riding over the right-rear of the leader.

In a chain reaction, Scherer was also clipped by Palou, the Catalan sustaining minor damage to his front wing.

Three laps later the hard-trying Scherer crashed at the Foch chicane, giving Fenestraz a safe advantage, despite Palou subsequently setting fastest lap in his pursuit.

“It’s one of the hardest races I’ve ever done, with rain in the middle – it was tricky with some big moments, and I nearly put it in the wall,” said Fenestraz.

Of the contact with Scherer, he said: “I was quite scared.

“It was quite a big contact, but luckily I didn’t have any damage – the car was faster [afterwards]!”

Marcus Armstrong, the only Prema Powerteam driver to make the best of the rainy conditions in qualifying, completed the podium, despite almost getting collected by the ricocheting Scherer shunt.

Fourth place was the subject of a dispute between Hitech’s British duo Ben Hingeley and Enaam Ahmed.

Ahmed had made a lightning start from third on the grid to draw alongside Fenestraz at Gare corner, but he was stuck on the outside line.

Scherer and Palou swept through on the inside, while Hingeley tripped over the recovering Ahmed, allowing Armstrong to leapfrog both.

Hingeley did a sound defensive job thereafter to beat Ahmed, with Carlin’s Jehan Daruvala shadowing them in sixth.

Julian Hanses also put in a great defence, after his putting his car – run by the tiny Ma-con team – on the fourth row.

The German held on for seventh, with a snaking train of expected title contenders Ralf Aron, Robert Shwartzman, Mick Schumacher, Ferdinand Habsburg and Guan Yu Zhou swarming around in his wake.

Dan Ticktum dropped out of this group when his headrest came loose and he was called in by the black-and-orange flag.

Race results

Pos. Driver Team Laps Time Gap
1 Sacha Fenestraz Carlin 27 34'30.035  
2 Alex Palou Hitech 27 34'33.067 3.032
3 Marcus Armstrong Prema 27 34'38.104 8.069
4 Ben Hingeley Hitech 27 34'42.647 12.612
5 Enaam Ahmed Hitech 27 34'43.012 12.977
6 Jehan Daruvala Carlin 27 34'43.766 13.731
7 Julian Hanses ma-con 27 34'51.328 21.293
8 Ralf Aron Prema 27 34'51.850 21.815
9 Robert Shwartzman Prema 27 34'52.330 22.295
10 Mick Schumacher Prema 27 34'52.942 22.907
11 Ferdinand Habsburg Carlin 27 34'53.291 23.256
12 Guan Yu Zhou Prema 27 34'54.565 24.53
13 Nikita Troitskiy Carlin 27 34'55.956 25.921
14 Keyvan Andres Van Amersfoort 27 34'56.393 26.358
15 Sebastian Fernandez Motopark 27 34'59.575 29.54
16 Ameya Vaidyanathan Carlin 27 35'10.413 40.378
17 Julian Hanses Prema 27 35'11.301 41.266
18 Marino Sato Motopark 27 35'20.614 50.579
19 Jonathan Aberdein Motopark 24 32'55.569 3 Laps
  Fabio Scherer Motopark 16 21'32.470  
  Dan Ticktum Motopark 7 10'41.146  
  Devlin DeFrancesco Carlin 4 5'23.998  
  Artem Petrov Van Amersfoort 4 5'24.097  

 

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About this article

Series F3 Europe
Event Pau
Location Circuit de Pau
Drivers Alex Palou , Sacha Fenestraz , Fabio Scherer , Marcus Armstrong
Teams Carlin
Author Marcus Simmons
Article type Race report