Rain-lashed Monza provides challenging season opener for Double R

Antonio Giovinazzi’s top 12 finish in the second of three races the highlight of the event for the British squad.

Double R Racing’s FIA Formula 3 European Championship campaign got off to a mixed start at a very wet Monza in Italy over the weekend, 23rd/24th March, with Antonio Giovinazzi’s top 12 finish in the second of three races the highlight of the event for the British squad.

Antonio Giovinazzi
Antonio Giovinazzi

Photo by: XPB Images

Off the back of a tremendous testing performance from the Italian in dry conditions just days prior to the opening rounds, where he was fifth fastest and the best rookie, hopes were high at the Woking-based team of a strong weekend. Unfortunately, a tough qualifying session led to three very challenging races for Giovinazzi and team-mates Sean Gelael and Tatiana Calderón.

Even so, the Double R trio all delivered strong performances in the circumstances with Indonesian 16-year-old Gelael, the youngest racer in the series, claiming a best of 14th position in round one and Calderon breaking into the top 20 with 19th place in the same encounter.

“It was a tough weekend for a variety of reasons, not least qualifying”, said Anthony ‘Boyo’ Hieatt, Double R team principal, “Antonio, Sean and Tatiana all have a lot to learn, although if qualifying had worked out we had the pace for Antonio to be in the points at least. We didn’t get the results we’d hoped for, but the experience will be invaluable for them all against such tough opposition.”

For the dry opening round on Saturday, Giovinazzi lined-up an uncharacteristic 22nd on the grid with Gelael in 27th, one spot ahead of Calderon, and at the beginning all three made great progress – by lap two, Giovinazzi was 18th, Calderon had sliced through into the top 20 and Gelael was 24th.

By lap seven, the Italian was up into 14th place after a great drive but unfortunate contact with the rear of a rival at the second chicane resulted in the Double R Dallara-Mercedes running straight on at the turn, losing several positions. Recovering in 17th, Giovinazzi battled back into 13th and prepared to challenge for 12th on the last lap but more contact resulted in retirement.

Tatiana Calderon
Tatiana Calderon

Photo by: XPB Images

After her great start, Colombian racer Calderon slipped further back – down to 23rd place just after mid-distance – but during the last couple of laps she made gains as several others hit trouble and so took the flag in 19th position. Gelael gained confidence as the race wore on and made his way into the top 20 before profiting from a multi-car tangle to leap into the top 14.

Rain and yet more rain played a decisive role in Sunday’s racing with the weather offering no let up at any point. Making the task of the Double R rookies all the more difficult, with horrendous spray serving up an immense challenge for even the most experienced of competitors, each delivered strong drives in rounds two and three.

With race two beginning behind the Safety Car due to the continual rain, the action didn’t start until lap five with Giovinazzi in 21st, Gelael 25th and Calderon 26th. Climbing the order well, Giovinazzi and Gelael moved up into 17th and 21st respectively prior to the return of the Safety Car two laps from the finish, due to a three-car tangle, which enabled the pair to take 12th and 16th with Calderon 22nd.

Actual racing was at a premium for the final encounter, with officials deciding to start the action behind the Safety Car before red-flagging the race with only nine laps completed. Giovinazzi made a storming start when the Safety Car departed in time for the beginning of lap four, scything his way through from 20th into 16th position, and he climbed into 13th before the action was halted.

Gelael made progress from 24th into the top 18 and recovered from an excursion, just prior to the deployment of the Safety Car at the end of the race, without problem. Calderon suffered a couple of spins during the shortened encounter but still managed to bring her car home in 22nd position.

Next on the calendar for Double R Racing will be a visit to familiar territory, Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit in Northamptonshire, for the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship on 13th/14th April.

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About this article
Series F3 Europe
Drivers Tatiana Calderon , Antonio Giovinazzi , Sean Gelael
Article type Race report
Tags double r, eurof3, gelael, giovinazzi, monza