2013 FIA F3 European Championship, Round 6, Silverstone, Great Britain, April 12th/14th 2013
© Lynne Waite and Stella-Maria Thomas
Windy, damp, sunny.
Race Report – Round 6 (Race 3):
The final race of the weekend in the FIA F3 European Championship was won by Raffaele Marciello (Prema Powerteam), the Italian beating Felix Rosenqvist to the flag after a massive battle in the closing stages saw the Swede robbed of the lead on the Hangar Straight. 3rd went to pole sitter Alex Lynn (Prema Powerteam), after he got caught out at the start by a damp patch on the grid. That allowed Rosenqvist to power into the lead while Lynn attempted to hold off Marciello and salvage something.
He wasn’t the only one to fall foul of the mixed track conditions. Lucas Wolf (URD Rennsport) and Eddie Cheever (Prema Powerteam) both opted to run wet weather tyres, while everyone else made what turned out to be the correct rubber choice of slicks. Wolf got away with it initially, though he would drop down the order in dramatic fashion as the track dried out, but Cheever failed to complete even the first lap, spinning out of contention and into the gravel.
Others who were caught out were Josh Hill (Fortec Motorsport), who ended up parked against the barriers, Sven Müller (ma-con) who was stranded in the middle of the track, Michael Lewis (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) who joined Cheever on the sidelines, Richard “Spike” Goddard (ThreeBond with T-Sport) and Mitchell Gilbert (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport). Oh, and is that wasn’t enough, van Amersfoort Racing’s Dennis van de Laar also came a cropper, though he at least managed to limp back to the pits – there was quite enough wreckage out there as it was.
With so many cars stopped around the track a Safety Car was inevitable, and it quickly took control of the field while snatch vehicles and marshals were mobilized to clean up the mess. Even with the field now trundling slowly round, there had been some progress with William Buller (ThreeBond with T-Sport) trailing Marciello and looking ready to launch an attack, while Tom Blomqvist (Eurointernational) was up 14 places in 14th having started dead last.
However, any further improvements would have to wait until the track was clear again. They settled in, with Rosenqvist leading Lynn, Marciello, Buller, Wolf, Lucas Auer (Prema Powerteam), Jordan King (Carlin), Jann Mardenborough (Carlin), Felix Serralles (Fortec Motorsport), Nicholas Latifi (Carlin) and Harry Tincknell (Carlin). 11th at this point was Sandro Zeller (Jo Zeller Racing), though he was about to pit, from Antonio Giovinazzi (Double R Racing), Pipo Derani (Fortec Motorsport), Blomqvist, Sean Gelael (Double R Racing), Roy Nissany (Mücke Motorsport), Andre Rudersdorf (ma-con), Gary Thompson (Romeo Ferraris), Mans Grenhagen (Van Amersfoort Racing), Tatiana Calderon (Double R Racing), and van de Laar, who was another about to pull into the pits.
Close observation a lap later suggested there was some confusion in the pack and they sorted themselves out into the correct order before the race restarted, the proper order being Rosenqvist, from Marciello, Lynn, Buller, Wolf, King, Auer, Mardenborough, Serralles and Latifi. In 11th it was actually Tincknell, ahead of Giovinazzi, Derani, Blomqvist, Gelael, Rudersdorf, Thompson, Calderon, Grenhagen and Zeller, who had rejoined in 20th. Van der Laar remained in the pits, and was joined there by Nissany, the last of the raft of early stage retirements.
With just 19 cars left at the restart Rosenqvist proved he’d learned from Saturday’s restart and he controlled it well, but Marciello had got the drop on Lynn for 2nd and was breathing down his exhaust now. Behind them Buller was mugged by Wolf for 4th, while Auer, who had been on his wing, lost out to King at the restart, and then shortly afterwards to Serralles and Mardenborough in a general swap round.
Buller promptly fought back and it all got very lairy, with the man to benefit being Serralles who barged through to 4th – the Puerto Rican loves tricky conditions, as his new fastest lap of the race proved. He was helped slightly by Wolf finding that the increasingly dry line was a problem when running on wet weather tyres. He promptly lose another three places to King, Mardenborough and Auer, and the rot had clearly now set in. It had been a long shot, and the team had gambled on it and lost.
Another one in trouble was Blomqvist, who pitted and lost all the ground he had gained, rejoining in 19th and last. Meanwhile, at the front, Rosenqvist was still ahead of Marciello, with Lynn falling back slightly, with clear air between himself and Serralles.
A lap later and Wolf lost yet another place, while Grenhagen moved into 15th and Calderon took 17th from Rudersdorf. Meanwhile, Derani was shown the orange and black flag to indicate that there was damage to his car and he should pit to have it dealt with. The front wing was heavily mangled and the Brazilian’s race ended in the pits.
As Serralles and Marciello traded fastest laps, Marciello finally caught right up with Rosenqvist. He was all over the Swede as they screamed down past the new Wing building, trying to get round the outside and with eight and a half minutes left on the clock, Rosenqvist was having to work incredibly hard to keep the Italian at bay. The chances of him holding position all the way to the flag seemed slight, as the Prema car seemed to be improving as the line dried out more and more, while the Mücke car was beginning to go off.
Behind them, Lynn was briefly in possession of the latest fastest lap of the race as he tried to catch up with the lead pair, but with Serralles also running in clear air, he soon wrested that honour from the Prema driver. Just behind him, there was a battle for 5th with Buller holding off King and Mardenborough for 5th, and Auer hovering just behind them, ready to get in on the act at a moment’s notice.
With six minutes to go, Wolf had fallen to 16th, Blomqvist caught and passed Rudersdorf, and King was bravely having a go at Buller. All eyes were on Marciello now though was he closed right in on Rosenqvist as they exited Copse. He saw an opportunity and pulled out to try and pass the Swede and for three or four laps the pair repeatedly ran side by side as Rosenqvist resisted for all he was worth. Luck was not on his side though, not with Marciello really, really wanting the win.
“All weekend conditions were horrible and unpredictable. I hit a wet patch at Maggots and then ran wide at Becketts.” That was all it took; Marciello saw his chance and was through and away into the distance with less than two minutes on the clock, leaving Felix to come home in the runner up’s slot. He wasn’t exactly delighted afterwards. Lynn was still cruising round in 3rd and stayed there all the way to the finish, ruing what was “a disappointing race from my point of view…I made an average start then didn’t get a good restart, and we did just not have the pace like the two up the front.”
Behind him Serralles was clear in 4th, with the main interest right to the flag being provided by Buller and the chasing gaggle of King, Mardenborough, Auer and now Tincknell as well. In the closing stages Auer made his move and set about Mardenborough, trying to wrestle the place from the Carlin driver. At the same time King had another go at Buller, showing that he has a lot of guts, because a lot of people wouldn’t tackle Buller – he’s a tough and very experienced racer and he won’t give an inch. King’s move failed and he settled back into 6th; while Auer did get through for 7th just before the flag.
With the race running to 16 laps instead of the scheduled 18, Marciello came home over a second clear of a disappointed Rosenqvist, to consolidate his lead in the championship ahead of Hockenheim in early May. Lynn was a lonely 3rd from Serralles, Buller, King, Auer, Mardenborough, Tincknell and Latifi. Giovinazzi ended up 11th, from Grenhagen, Thompson, Blomqvist, Calderon, Rudersdorf, Wolf and Gelael, who stopped out on the track a couple of corners from the end.
The fastest lap of the race went to Serralles.
Next Meeting: May 4th/5th, Hockenheim, Germany.