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FIA F3 European Championship Round 3, Silverstone, Great Britain
April 10th/12th 2015
© Lynne Waite and Stella-Maria Thomas

Weather:
Cold, dry, sunny. Very windy.

Race Report – Round 3:
This morning in very windy conditions Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing) bagged his first win in F3, claiming victory in Round 3 if the FIA F3 European Championship. The Monegasque rookie was just ahead of the more experienced Italian driver Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) at the chequered flag after a late Safety Car period put his lead in some danger. Behind the two of them Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam) snatched 3rd from Gustavo Menezes (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) with less than a lap to run. Elsewhere the main interest again lay in seeing how Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam) would deal with the traffic, the Swede starting the race from last again after all his times (including the pole position setting one) were disallowed for a minor technical infringement in qualifying.

Even before the start there were elements of drama with Fabian Schiller (Team West-TecF3) failing to get away from the initial formation grid and having to be pushed up the pitlane, from where he would join the race along with Mahaveer Raghunathan (Motopark) who didn’t get out to take his place on the dummy grid. Getting away very slowly was Rosenqvist, presumably intending to get as much heat into his tyres as possible while ensuring that the guys ahead of him would be left cooling theirs on the grid.

Finally everyone was in place that was going to be, and the lights came on. They were held very briefly but even so Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam) on row 4 jumped the start, hauling the anchors back on too late to avoid a later penalty. :Leclerc made a reasonable start, certainly better than the one he’d managed yesterday afternoon, with Giovinazzi and Menezes (from 8th) towing along beside him as they both got the jump on George Russell (Carlin). Behind them Brendon Maisano (Prema Powerteam) was battling for 6th place with Alexander Albon (Signature). Rosenqvist meanwhile had taken a deep breath and charged, making up 10 places within a lap while elsewhere various cars took up sideways attitudes with lots of tyre smoke and Dennis passed Russell for 4th.

Stroll’s morning promptly got a lot worse when the Canadian spun off, just as the screens announced a penalty for his jump start. From where he was it was unlikely he’d be able to serve that penalty, and in fact his demise necessitated the first Safety Car period of the race. The top ten at this stage was Leclerc, from Giovinazzi, Menezes, Dennis, Russell, Albon, Markus Pommer (Motopark), Ryan Tveter (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin), Mikkel Jensen (kfzteile Mücke Motorsport) and Callum Ilot (Carlin).

11th after just one lap was Santino Ferrucci (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), ahead of Pietro Fittipaldi (Fortec Motorsports), Nabil Jeffri (Motopark), Nicolas Beer (Eurointernational), Michele Beretta (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), Alessio Lorandi (Van Amersfoort Racing), Maximilian Gunther (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), Tatiana Calderon (Carlin), Matt Solomon (Double R Racing) and Arjun Maini (Van Amersfoort Racing).

Back in 21st was Sergio Sette Camara (Motopark), from Julio Moreno (ThreeBond with T-Sport), Hongwei Cao (Fortec Motorsports), Rosenqvist, Dorian Boccolacci (Signature), Matt Rao (Fortec Motorsports), Raoul Hyman (Team West-TecF3), Nicolas Pohler (Double R Racing), Sam Macleod (Motopark) and Zhi Cong Li (Fortec Motorsports).

The massive field was rounded out with Kang Ling (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) in 31st leading Schiller, who at least was able to catch up the pack under the Safety Car. Oddly enough a lap late, despite the Safety Car slowing everyone up, Lorandi managed to spin, while Hyman pitted for a new nose having picked up some damage in the generalized mayhem of the initial lap.

Two laps behind the Safety Car completed, the race went life with Leclerc controlling the situation despite all the yellow he could see in his mirrors as both Giovinazzi and Menezes tried to force the youngster into an error. Leclerc’s nerve held though and the lead remained his. Albon also took the restart as a sign to attack Russell for 5th and was soon through and off in pursuit of Dennis. It goes without saying that Rosenqvist was also not hanging about and he made up a further three places to claim 22nd now that overtaking was again permitted.

As the race developed Leclerc found he could not relax. The slightest slip from him had Giovinazzi breathing down his exhaust and pushing hard to find a way through. The Van Amersfoort youngster responded to the pressure with a new fastest lap but he couldn’t get rid of the persistent Italian who was using all of his experience to simply glue himself to the rear wing of the leading black car.

A lap later and Rosenqvist found his progress halted as he got stuck behind a four way battle for 17th between Ilot, Günther, Solomon, Calderon and Maini. Getting past them would require a certain amount of caution and quite a lot of cunning, occupied as they all were with squabbling for positions. With five years of Formula 3 under his belt, Rosenqvist was able to deal with Calderon when Maini went past her and Felix followed him through, while Solomon found a way past Günther. They were very quickly dealt with by the Swede as well which promoted Rosenqvist to 17th.

Leclerc, meanwhile, briefly opened up a lead over Giovinazzi and just as quickly lost it again to find the Italian alongside him at Brooklands, a move that almost paid off. Again Leclerc drove maturely and hung on to his lead, despite being slightly panicked by a warning light on his dash suggesting he might have an engine problem. The half second gap was suddenly a mere 0.012 seconds,

After a certain amount of place trading Rosenqvist was tangled up with Günther and Maini again despite having passed them once. He picked off Maini again and then used the tow at Copse to dispatch Günther for the second and last time. He now had Beretta and Lorandi to deal with. Again, this was not going to be easy. As the battling pair went side-by-side at Luffield, Beretta ran very wide and lost 16th to Beretta, Rosenqvist sized up his options. Some bumping and bargin later and he was through for 15th. With three laps left it looked as if he might just have enough time to get into the points – at least if he could find his way past Beer and then Jeffri and Fittipaldi who were slugging it out for 12th.

As Leclerc continued round in the lead Albon was warned for “leaving the track with advantage” having cut a corner to his own benefit. He was coming under pressure from Russell and had been somewhat over vigorous in his own defence. Near the back Moreno was having an interesting time, having passed Li but then running very wide at Village and deranging his own front wing. He pitted after being shown the black and orange flag for having a damaged car, and was sent back out with a replacement, only to be awarded a drivethrough penalty for speeding in the pit lane. He was not having a good morning.

Rosenqvist, meanwhile, had passed Beer but was having a lot of trouble with Jeffri, the Malaysian driving a very wide car and managing to make contact with the Swede. A rethink and another try and he was finally ahead, despatching Fittipaldi with clinical efficient, only for the tiny Brazilian to spin off and into the gravel, handing 13th to the Swede.

With yet another car stranded in the boonies it was time for yet another Safety Car, which stayed out until a lap or so from the end. At the restart Leclerc again kept cool and kept the lead, but on the final lap Dennis snatched 3rd from Menezes when the American hit technical trouble, Albon lost out to Russell and Rosenqvist stole 12th from Ferrucci, also on the very last lap as Macleod clattered off into the gravel with suspension damage, possibly after contact with Rao.

Afterwards Leclerc seemed relieved to have survived 35 minutes of pressure: ”What a hard race! My start was not amazing but I achieved my goal after the first lap. Then there was the first safety car and the pressure was on as Antonio was fast behind me. The second safety car I didn’t expect which made it really difficult but generally it was a good race so I am really happy. In testing we were really fast but I didn’t know what to expect in the races so it’s bit of a surprise.”

Giovinazzi was happy enough with a third podium from three races: “All thanks to Carlin we were really good in testing on Tuesday. In the race I tried to overtake Charles in turn 3 after the safety car but couldn’t so I tried to pressure him into making a mistake. He was faster in the high speed corners and I was faster in the slow ones and so I couldn’t quite manage it.”

Dennis was another one who seemed relieved rather than anything after his unexpected pass on Menezes: “The fuel pump broke on Menezes car, which was just like me at Hockenheim. It’s just one of those things so he lost a lot of power and he went hard left and I ran up the back of him but I survived. But it was a fantastic result for me and the team. Last year I was p22 and this year we’re p3 so it’s a vast improvement. Now I need to keep up the momentum and go for the win at Hockenheim.”

Menezes hung on for 4th ahead of Russell, Albon, Pommer, Maisano, Ilott and Jensen. Tveter just lost 10th to the Dane and so finished 11th from Rosenqvist, Ferrucci, Lorandi, Jeffri, Maini, Boccolacci, Beer, Beretta and Sette Camara. 21st was Günther, from Calderon, Cao, Solomon, Schiller, Pohler, Li, Hyman, Raghunathan and Moreno, who had a 20 second penalty added for not serving his drive through penalty.

So that’s a win apiece for Prema Powerteam, Jagonya Ayam with Carlin and Van Amersfoort. With Hockenheim their next outing in three weeks time, Giovinazzi leads the title chase, from Leclerc, Russell and Rosenqvist, who must be wondering how different his position might be if not for one small badly tightened screw…

Fastest lap went the way of Leclerc.

Race 3 Results:
1st – No. 7, Charles Leclerc*, MON, Van Amersfoort Racing, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, 18 laps, 35:56.649

2nd – No. 3, Antonio Giovinazzi, ITA, Jagonya Ayam Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 0.440
3rd – No. 2, Jake Dennis, GBR, Prema Powerteam, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 3.255
4th – No. 4, Gustavo Menezes, USA, Jagonya Ayam Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 4.242
5th – No. 10, George Russell*, GBR, Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 4.626
6th – No. 21, Alexander Albon*, THA, Signature, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 6.345
7th – No. 34, Markus Pommer, GER, Motopark, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 7.185
8th – No. 24, Brandon Maisano, FRA, Prema Powerteam, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 8.447
9th – No. 30, Callum Ilott*, GBR, Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 9.098
10th – No. 27, Mikkel Jensen*, DEN, kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 9.551
11th – No. 26, Ryan Tveter*, USA, Jagonya Ayam, Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 10.269
12th – No. 1, Felix Rosenqvist, SWE, Prema Powerteam, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 10.984
13th – No. 5, Santino Ferrucci, USA, kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 11.622
14th – No. 8, Alessio Lorandi*, ITA, Van Amersfoort Racing, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 12.942
15th – No. 22, Nabil Jeffri, MAS, Motopark, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 12.942
16th – No. 29, Arjun Maini*, IND, Van Amersfoort Racing, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 13.969
17th – No. 20, Dorian Boccolacci*, FRA, Signature, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 14.485
18th – No. 15, Nicolas Beer, DEN, Eurointernational, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 14.820
19th – No. 6, Michele Beretta, ITA, fzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 15.977
20th – No. 23, Sergio Sette Camara, BRA, Motopark, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 16.074
21st – No. 28, Maximilian Günther*, GER, kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 17.417
22nd – No. 9, Tatiana Calderón, COL, Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 18.216
23rd – No. 31, Hongwei Cao, CHN, Fortec Motorsports, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 19.958
24th – No. 19, Matt Solomon*, HKG, Double R Racing, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 20.622
25th – No. 11, Fabian Schiller*, GER, Team West-Tec F3, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 21.249
26th – No. 18, Nicolas Pohler, GER, Double R Racing, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 21.600
27th – No. 32, Zhi Cong Li, CHN, Fortec Motorsports, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 22.071
28th – No. 38, Raoul Hyman*, RSA, Team West-Tec F3, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 22.561
29th – No. 33, Mahaveer Raghunathan*, IND, Motopark, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 23.113
30th – No. 17, Julio Moreno*, ECU, ThreeBond T-Sport, Dallara F312, NBE, 1 lap#

Not Classified:
No. 36, Sam Macleod, GBR, Motopark, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, lap 18
No. 14, Matthew Rao, GBR, Fortec Motorsports, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, lap 18
No. 35, Kang Ling, CHN, kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, lap 17
No. 12, Pietro Fittipaldi*, BRA, Fortec Motorsports, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, lap 15
No. 25, Lance Stroll*, CAN, Prema Powerteam, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, lap 1

Fastest Lap:
No. 7, Charles Leclerc*, MON, Van Amersfoort Racing, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, 1:51:498, lap 5, 118.371mph, 190.5kph

*Rookie

#20 SECONDS PENALTY FOR CAR Nº 17 DUE TO NOT RESPECTING DRIVE THROUGH PENALTY

Points
Drivers Championship

1st – Giovinazzi, 51 points

2nd – Leclerc, 43 points
3rd – Russell, 39 points
4th – Rosenqvist, 31 points
5th – Dennis, 30 points
6th – Albon, 28 points
7th – Stroll, 20 points
8th – Menezes, 18 points
9th – Pommer, 16 points
10th – Maisano, 14 points
11th – Fittipaldi, 4 points
12th – Ilott, 3 points
13th – Ferrucci/Günther/Jensen, 2 points

Rookie Championship
1st – Russell, 58 points

2nd – Albon, 52 points
3rd – Leclerc, 49 points
4th – Stroll, 33 points
5th – Jensen/Ilott, 22 points
7th – Fittipaldi, 18 points
8th – Günther, 16 points
9th – Tveter, 9 points
10th – Schiller, 7 points
11th – Lorandi/Maini, 6 points
13th – Beer, 3 points
14th – Boccolacci, 2 points
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