FIA F3 European Championship
Round 1, Silverstone, Great Britain, April 10th/12th 2015
© Lynne Waite and Stella-Maria Thomas
Weather: Warm, dry, cloudy.
Qualifying Report – Round 1:
At Silverstone this afternoon the 2015 FIA F3 European Championship finally kicked off with a distinct feeling of déjà vu, despite well over half of the 35-strong field being rookies. At the front by the end of the 20-minute session that counts towards the grid for Race 1 of the weekend was a Prema Powerteam car – who would have guessed, eh? In fact it was in the hands of the highly experienced Swedish driver Felix Rosenqvist, back for his umpteenth season in this category and with a lot to prove. Second when the dust settled was Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) from Jake Dennis (formerly of Carlin and now at Prema Powerteam).
To begin with the rookies were the ones doing most of the work, and it was Julian Moreno (ThreeBond with T-Sport) who set the early pace, though he was soon edged down the order by Matt Solomon (Double R Racing), and then down another space by Nico Pohler, also of Double R. Most of this was pretty meaningless though with the long circuit in use this weekend meaning that by the time the session really got going properly there was less than 15 minutes to run.
Moreno shot back up to pole, but there was a distinct feeling that the more experienced drivers were merely keeping their powder dry while the youngsters got all that spring fever out of their systems. Next to hit the front was Hongwei Cao (Fortec Motorsports) but again no one expected that to last either. The bright orange (and somewhat lairy looking) kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport car of Michele Berretta now went 3rd from team mate Santino Ferrucci, with Pohler 5th from Nicholas Beer (in the lone Eurointernational entry, Marvin Kirchoffer being otherwise occupied with GP3 testing in Valencia right now), Alessio Lorandi (Van Amersfoort Racing) and Dorian Boccolacci (Signature).
There followed an awful lot of jockeying for position with Beer moving up to provisional pole next, but the better part of the field still needed to set a flying lap time, and with the weather set fair it seemed certain that the order would soon be well and truly shaken up. Fabian Schiller (Team West-TecF3) was next to go fastest, with Moreno just behind him, though Pietro Fittipaldi (Fortec Motorsports) moved ahead of the Ecuadorean, while Matt Rao 4th (Fortec Motorsports) slotted into 4th very shortly thereafter.
Another reshuffle saw Alexander Albon (Signature go fastest from Sergio Sette Camara (Motopark) and Schiller. While the youngsters continued to play at being fastest, the grownups had now also come out to play. As they all got up to speed, Tatiana Calderon (Carlin) moved into 6th place, while Beretta leaped up to 2nd, and was then emoted by Boccolacci who was next to get ahead, a tad faster than Nabil Jeffri (Motopark).
Gustavo Menezes (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) suddenly appeared up at the sharp end, while Giovinazzi was beginning to push as indicated by the purple sector times against his name. He wasn’t the one on the move. So too was Rosenqvist, the Swede knowing full well that anything less than domination of the championship on his part will be considered failure.
Suddenly the grid was starting to look a lot more like you might expect, with Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing) on pole by half a second, and Markus Pommer (Motopark) in 5th despite a tardy arrival in the collecting area. And then Dennis was fastest of all, at least for a nano-second or so before Rosenqvist came tearing round to outclass everyone. He was faster than the second placed Giovinazzi by around a quarter of a second and would not be challenged in what remained of the session.
Leclerc wasn’t done yet in his bid to be top rookie and came back to claim 4th while the mid-pack from about 7th backwards shuffled, grouped and regrouped repeatedly. Brandon Maisano (Prema Powerteam) was clearly determined to give the Monegasque a run for his rookie money but could quite get ahead and had to be satisfied with 5th. Also in at Prema Powerteam this year is Lance Stroll, the Canadian youngster now up to 8th.
However, in the battle to be top rookie they’d all overlooked George Russell (Carlin), the Carlin newbie snatching 4th place in the closing stages. With three minutes left it now seemed pretty settled with Rosenqvist holding position at the front from Giovinazzi, Dennis, Russell, Leclerc, Maisano, Albon, Stroll, Pommer and Callum Ilot (Carlin). Despite the fact that the tyres seemed to be pretty much done now, Rosenqvist continued to push on for no improvements, while Dennis pitted, presumably aware that he had done as much as he could with the rubber he had.
That started a drift to the pits with less than a minute to go and the top ten stayed the same all the way to the chequered flag. 11th was Maximilian Günther (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) Ryan Tveter (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin), Menezes, Beer, Jeffri, Arjun Maini (Van Amersfoort Racing), Fittipaldi, Sette Camara, Schiller and Boccolacci. 21st went to Lorandi, from Raoul Hyman (Team West-TecF3), Mikkel Jensen (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), Calderon, Ferrucci, Sam Macleod (Motopark), Cao, Moreno, Solomon and Beretta. 31st is Kang Ling (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), Rao, Cong Li (Fortec Motorsports), Pohler and Mahaveer Raghunathan (Motopark).
Race 1 Grid (Fastest Qualifying Laps of Qualifying Session 1):
1st – No. 1, Felix Rosenqvist, SWE, Prema Powerteam, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, 1:51.007
2nd – No. 3, Antonio Giovinazzi, ITA, Jagonya Ayam Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, 1:51.274
3rd – No. 2, Jake Dennis, GBR, Prema Powerteam, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, 1:51.332
4th – No. 10, George Russell*, GBR, Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, 1:51.652
5th – No. 7, Charles Leclerc*, MON, Van Amersfoort Racing, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, 1:51.685
6th – No. 24, Brandon Maisano, FRA, Prema Powerteam, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, 1;51.768
7th – No. 21, Alexander Albon*, THA, Signature, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, 1:51.792
8th – No. 25, Lance Stroll*, CAN, Prema Powerteam, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, 1:52.066
9th – No. 34, Markus Pommer, GER, Motopark, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, 1:52.113
10th – No. 30, Callum Ilott*, GBR, Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, 1:52.113
11th – No. 28, Maximilian Günther*, GER, kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, 1:52.294
12th – No. 26, Ryan Tveter*, USA, Jagonya Ayam, Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, 1:52.309
13th – No. 4, Gustavo Menezes, USA, Jagonya Ayam Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, 1:52.324
14th – No. 15, Nicolas Beer, DEN, Eurointernational, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, 1:52.352
15th – No. 22, Nabil Jeffri, MAS, Motopark, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, 1:52.374
16th – No. 29, Arjun Maini*, IND, Van Amersfoort Racing, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, 1:52.426
17th – No. 12, Pietro Fittipaldi*, BRA, Fortec Motorsports, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, 1:52.443
18th – No. 23, Sergio Sette Camara, BRA, Motopark, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, 1:52.446
19th – No. 11, Fabian Schiller*, GER, Fabian Team West-Tec F3, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, 1:52.486
20th – No. 20, Dorian Boccolacci*, FRA, Signature, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, 1:52.490
21st – No. 8, Alessio Lorandi*, ITA, Van Amersfoort Racing, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, 1:52.496
22nd – No. 38, Raoul Hyman*, RSA, Team West-Tec F3, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, 1:52.543
23rd – No. 27, Mikkel Jensen*, DEN, Mikkel kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, 1:52.543
24th – No. 9, Tatiana Calderón, COL, Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, 1:52.798
25th – No. 5, Santino Ferrucci, USA, kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, 1:52.849
26th – No. 36, Sam Macleod, GBR, Motopark, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, 1:52.879
27th – No. 31, Hongwei Cao, CHN, Fortec Motorsports, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, 1:52.901
28th – No. 17, Julio Moreno*, ECU, ThreeBond T-Sport, Dallara F312, NBE, 1:52.938
29th – No. 19, Matt Solomon*, HKG, Double R Racing, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, 1:53.039
30th – No. 6, Michele Beretta, ITA, kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, 1:53.073
31st – No. 35, Kang Ling, CHN, kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, 1:53.198
32nd – No. 14, Matthew Rao, GBR, Fortec Motorsports, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, 1:53.251
33rd – No. 32, Zhi Cong Li, CHN, Fortec Motorsports, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, 1:53.305
34th – No. 18, Nicolas Pohler, GER, Double R Racing, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, 1:53.705
35th – No. 33, Mahaveer Raghunathan*, IND, Motopark, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, 1:53.874