Antonio Giovinazzi etched his name into Formula 3 history by winning the 25th edition of the Masters of F3 race at Circuit Park Zandvoort.
The Carlin driver became the race's first Italian winner and joined the ranks of previous Masters of F3 victors, including Lewis Hamilton, Nico Hulkenberg, Jules Bianchi, Valtteri Bottas and last year’s winner Max Verstappen.
Well before the cars hit the track in practice, Giovinazzi already was among the favourites for the victory. Currently ranked second in the FIA F3 European Championship, the 21-year-old stood out in a field which didn't feature a number of his main F3 rivals - namely Felix Rosenqvist, who elected not to compete after having won the event twice.
Giovinazzi’s main competition came from Sergio Sette Camara, Markus Pommer and George Russell, but the three drivers were never a serious threat in the race as Giovinazzi stormed into the distance, running in a league of his own and lapping the 4.3-kilometre track much quicker than anyone else.
“It’s a really good feeling to win the Masters, to be the first Italian to win this race and to follow in the footsteps of Verstappen, Bottas and all the others,” Giovinazzi told Motorsport.com. “I can’t thank the Carlin guys enough for giving me a really good car.”
That he was a serious contender was proven earlier in the year when the Italian driver stepped on to the podium during all three races of the European championship at Zandvoort, taking one win and two second-place finishes.
“I really enjoy driving here and maybe it’s my favourite track because of the many high speed corners,” he admitted.
But his outright speed was not the only part of his success as he also excelled at managing the tyres in a race where the field raced on Kumhos instead of the regular F3 Hankook rubber.
“Normally we race for 35 minutes but the race lasted for one hour. I was saving the tyres in the beginning of the race as I expected much degradation,” Giovinazzi explained.
“But the tyres worked really well and about six laps before the end I felt I could even still push for quick lap times.”
Giovinazzi is honoured to join the list of winners as most of them have become successful drivers in major championships. As he is in his third year of Formula 3 racing, the question is what category will be next for him.
And, having gotten a recent DTM debut in place of the suspended Timo Scheider, Giovinazzi admits that he is exploring more than just open-wheel options.
“For sure the dream of every driver is to become a Formula 1 driver, but I think it’s quite difficult to achieve. My main goal is to become a professional driver and there are so many great categories out there such as DTM and WEC,” he said.
“For now I’m fighting for the Formula 3 European Championship and to perform well in the race at Macau. After that, we’ll see what we can do for next year.”
Giovinazzi is currently 34.5 points adrift of F3 veteran Rosenqvist in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship with six races to go.