FIA F3 European Championship
Round 1, Silverstone, Great Britain, April 10th/12th 2015
© Lynne Waite and Stella-Maria Thomas
Weather: Warm, dry, sunny. Wet track.
Race Report – Round 1:
Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam) claimed first blood in the FIA F3 European Championship at Silverstone this morning, though there was a case to be made that the Safety Car driver should have been given the winner’s laurels. They had certainly led more laps by the time the somewhat chaotic first round of the championship was finally over. In second, despite his best efforts to get on terms with the Swede, was Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin), the Italian making the most of his experience to deal with starting on the very wet side of the track. In 3rd was another returnee, Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam) after an interesting battle with Alexander Albon (Signature), the Thai rookie proving that Signature are back after a long hiatus with a bang.
It was chaos even before the start with Kang Ling (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) having to be pushed off the pre-grid and into the pits, where he would join Sam Macleod (Motopark) and Julio Moreno (ThreeBond with T-Sport) in starting from the pit lane (and thus in the final three places) as the field completed a two lap start behind the Safety Car. Conditions were far more pleasant than they had been an hour previously, but the racing line was the only dry line available to the racers.
With so many rookies in the field it was perhaps inevitable that there would be trouble when the officials finally opted to let the mob go. 35 cars, with 18 rookie drivers, was always going to be a big ask, and it all kicked off near the front when Brandon Maisano (Prema Powerteam) and Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing) tangled, and the ripple effect tripped up George Russell (Carlin), and several others. Having just pulled in, the Safety Car had to be scrambled again while a selection of cars including Matt Rao’s Fortec Motorsports Dallara were rescued from the gravel, while the others (including Zhi Cong Li in another Fortec car) variously pitted and were able to rejoin sooner or later.
This was a bit of a shame for Rosenqvist, who had made a near perfect start, getting away on the dry line and starting to open up a gap, something he’s had to do more than once at Silverstone in the past. Rosenqvist had to slot in behind the Audi for several laps, with Giovinazzi right behind, Dennis, Albon, Markus Pommer (Motopark), Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam), Maximilian Günther (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), Callum Ilot (Carlin), Gustavo Menezes (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) and Nicholas Beer (Eurointernational).
11th was Nabil Jeffri (Motopark), Arjun Maini (Van Amersfoort Racing), Pietro Fittipaldi (Fortec Motorsports), Ryan Tveter (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin), Fabian Schiller (Team West-TecF3), Sergio Sette Camara (Motopark). Alessio Lorandi (Van Amersfoort Racing), Russell, Mikkel Jensen (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) and Dorian Boccolacci (Signature).
Santino Ferrucci (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) was 21st, from Raoul Hyman (Team West-TecF3). Tatiana Calderon (Carlin), Hongwei Cao (Fortec Motorsport), Michele Beretta (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), Matt Solomon (Double R Racing), Macleod, Moreno, Li, Mahaveer Raghunathan (Motopark), Nicholas Pohler (Double R Racing) and Leclerc (after a brief pit stop).
For several laps that was pretty much how they stayed, with Rosenqvist controlling the restart beautifully as Albon launched an attack on Dennis for 3rd and briefly got past. Behind them it all kicked off again when Tveter tried to overtake someone, got on the slippery stuff and spun out of contention at the end of the Wellington straight, while Beretta pulled into the pits for some attention, as did Lorandi.
In the pack while Albon kept right on harassing Dennis, Günther lost a place to Menezes, having already been passed by Ilot, and a fierce fight broke out just outside the top ten with Jeffri outbraking himself in his efforts to join the party. To add to the Van Amersfoort misery Maini also came into the pits to retire, thus making the unhappiness at the Dutch team pretty universal. As that was happening Ling rejoined the race after a long stay in the pits and promptly went off, which wasn’t impressive.
The battle for 6th back to 14th was still raging a lap later, with Menezes taking a long hard look at Stroll, while Russell, who had recovered to 10th, lost several places and ended to back in 14th, seemingly sending a signal to several others to join in. While Schiller got involved, as did Jensen, Ilot got the drop on Beer to snatch 9th in a daring overtaking manouevre.
All the while Rosenqvist continued to try and open a gap over Giovinazzi, the Italian not quite quick enough to pass the Prema man but definitely quick enough to be a threat. However, the real interest was still coming from the mid-pack melee. That had now also been joined by Leclerc who was battling his way back from dead last in impressive style. Boccolacci was also on the move now, but he was outclassed by Leclerc, the Monegasque selling the youngster a dummy to claim 19th.
And then the Safety Car was back with us once again, after Lorandi returned to the fray and then fell off into the gravel. Again Rosenqvist had to kiss goodbye to his lead, with Giovinazzi and Dennis in the other two podium positions. In 4th was still Albon, holding off Pommer, Stroll, Menezes, Günther, Ilot and Fittipaldi. In 11th was now Beer, from Jensen, Russell, Jeffri, Schiller, Sette Camara, Ferrucci, Leclerc, Hyman and Boccolacci, Calderon had dropped to 21st with Macleod, Cao, Beretta, Solomon, Moreno, Raghunathan, Pohler, Ling and Li in the remainder of the places.
At the restart Rosenqvist once more did what was needed and held the lead efficiently leaving Giovinazzi unable to find the answer. In the pack Russell took Günther round the outside at Stowe, while Leclerc hacked his way up the order as well, going past the squabbling pack like a hot knife through butter.
With two laps left, that was pretty much the extent of any further excitement, and so Rosenqvist came home to a well-deserved victory from Giovinazzi. As he said afterwards: “It’s always difficult when it is like this, drying every lap and you have to be a bit more brave than you think you should be. I got a good restart and Antonio was quick but never quite close enough. I just had to try not to do anything stupid. After last year behind the safety car I learned that one! There was a crash at the restart so maybe we have to have a rethink on that one.”
Giovinazzi hadn’t had the easiest of times out there either: “It was difficult for us too…so my safety car restart I just had to make sure I made no mistakes. Felix was really fast so there was no possibility to overtake him. But I must thank Carlin for a really good car.”
In 3rd was Dennis, who had been kept on his toes by Albon for most of the race. “It was a solid race for the start this year and better than last year’s position. From 20th to 3rd is good. The experience of these two got the better of me at the start then I made a mistake at turn 1 and dropped to 4th but I got him (Albon) round the outside. Now let’s just see what races 2 and 3 bring.”
4th was Albon, from Pommer, Stroll, Menezes, Russell, Günther and Ilot. Just outside the top ten was Fittipaldi, ahead of Leclerc, Jensen, Beer, Jeffri, Schiller, Sette Camara, Ferrucci, Hyman and Calderon. 21st went the way off Boccolacci, from Macleod, Cao, Beretta, Solomon, Raghunathan, Pohler and Moreno. The fastest lap, which should come as no surprise, went the way of Rosenqvist.
Race 1 Result:
1st – No. 1, Felix Rosenqvist, SWE, Prema Powerteam, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, 15 laps, 36:44.906
2nd – No. 3, Antonio Giovinazzi, ITA, Jagonya Ayam Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 0.938
3rd – No. 2, Jake Dennis, GBR, Prema Powerteam, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 2.681
4th – No. 21, Alexander Albon*, THA, Signature, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 4.767
5th – No. 34, Markus Pommer, GER, Motopark, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 5.229
6th – No. 25, Lance Stroll*, CAN, Prema Powerteam, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 6.175
7th – No. 4, Gustavo Menezes, USA, Jagonya Ayam Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 6.934
8th – No. 10, George Russell*, GBR, Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 7.470
9th – No. 28, Maximilian Günther*, GER, kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 7.897
10th – No. 30, Callum Ilott*, GBR, Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 8.531
11th – No. 12, Pietro Fittipaldi*, BRA, Fortec Motorsports, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 9.886
12th – No. 7, Charles Leclerc*, MON, Van Amersfoort Racing, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 10.282
13th – No. 27, Mikkel Jensen*, DEN, kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 12.464
14th – No. 15, Nicolas Beer, DEN, Eurointernational, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 13.147
15th – No. 22, Nabil Jeffri, MAS, Motopark, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 14.060
16th – No. 11, Fabian Schiller*, GER, Team West-Tec F3, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 14.915
17th – No. 23, Sergio Sette Camara, BRA, Motopark, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 15.486
18th – No. 5, Santino Ferrucci, USA, kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 15.884
19th – No. 38, Raoul Hyman*, RSA, Team West-Tec F3, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 17.549
20th – No. 9, Tatiana Calderón, COL, Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 17.939
21st – No. 20, Dorian Boccolacci*, FRA, Signature, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 18.687
22nd – No. 36, Sam Macleod, GBR, Motopark, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 19.510
23rd – No. 31, Hongwei Cao, CHN, Fortec Motorsports, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 20.021
24th – No. 6, Michele Beretta, ITA, kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 20.304
25th – No. 19, Matt Solomon*, HKG, Double R Racing, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 22.949
26th – No. 33, Mahaveer Raghunathan*, IND, Motopark, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 28.887
27th – No. 18, Nicolas Pohler, GER, Double R Racing, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 30.780
28th – No. 17, Julio Moreno*, ECU, ThreeBond T-Sport, Dallara F312, NBE, gap 33.168
No. 35, Kang Ling, CHN, kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, lap 12
No. 32, Zhi Cong Li, CHN, Fortec Motorsports, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, lap 11
No. 8, Alessio Lorandi*, ITA, Van Amersfoort Racing, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, lap 9
No. 29, Arjun Maini*, IND, Van Amersfoort Racing, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, lap 7
No. 26, Ryan Tveter*, USA, Jagonya Ayam, Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, lap 6
No. 24, Brandon Maisano, FRA, Prema Powerteam, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, lap 2
No. 14, Matthew Rao, GBR, Fortec Motorsports, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, lap 2
No. 1, Felix Rosenqvist, SWE, Prema Powerteam, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, 1:52:372, lap 10, 117.439mph, 189.000kph