Andrea Kimi Antonelli sailed to victory in treacherous and changeable conditions at Zandvoort to clinch the Formula Regional European Championship title in style.
Needing only to score two more points than his closest rival, Martinius Stenshorne, Prema driver Antonelli made sure of the title with one round at Hockenheim remaining by dominating the race, which was interrupted after seven laps following multiple incidents.
As the wind pelted down and the wind blew horizontally across the circuit from the North Sea, Antonelli appeared to be driving in a different race. From the fourth row of the grid, he was in the lead on the third lap.
R-ace GP’s Stenshorne was also charging from ninth on the grid, but was unable to match the Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 junior and had to settle for sixth at the flag.
ART Grand Prix celebrated a double podium with Sauber junior Marcus Amand holding onto second from team-mate Laurens van Hoepen at the flag
Van Amersfoort Racing’s Kas Haverkort made a great start to challenge polesitter Amand into Tarzan on lap one, but the race one winner ran wide through the gravel at Tarzan, dropping to 21st place.
Antonelli was flying as the rain intensified, up to fourth halfway around the first lap from eighth on the grid, before picking off Bedrin for third on lap two.
As they crossed the line, Antonelli was alongside van Hoepen, and calmly outbraked the Dutchman into Tarzan to go second.
Wasting no time, Antonelli took the lower line at the banked Hugenholtzbocht to take the lead from Amand on lap three.
Behind Antonelli, Tramnitz had passed Monolite Racing’s last-minute call-up Nikita Bedrin and was onto the tail of van Hoepen as Prema’s Rafael Camara got crossed up into turn three, bouncing over the kerbs before collecting it again as he tried to find a way past Bedrin.
The two swapped positions around the lap as they slithered to keep control in the treacherous conditions. Into turn 13, Camara moved to his left colliding with Bedrin and pitching the Ferrari junior’s car into the barriers. Simultaneously, Pierre-Alexandre Provost had hit the barriers at turn 12.
Antonelli had disappeared at the front, establishing a 3.6s lead over Amand when the safety car was deployed.
With the rain and spray making racing impossible, further incidents under yellow flag conditions and damage to the barriers necessitated the red flag with seven laps completed.
Third-placed van Hoepen had spun, while further back Emmo Fittipaldi lost control and was collected by Maya Weug and Nikhil Bohra.
After a lengthy delay, the race resumed behind the safety car with 17 minutes remaining. As has been the case throughout the weekend, the rain had now stopped and the sun was shining again, but the stewards mandated wet tyres for the restart as well as disabling push-to-pass.
With positions restored to positions held one lap before the red flag, van Hoepen was able to move back to third, having dropped to 18th after his spin.
The safety car was in at the end of lap nine and Antonelli bunched the field up before accelerating away in turn 13.
Maceo Capietto missed his braking for Tarzan, dropping back to 18th, but the first lap was otherwise without drama, as Antonelli sprinted away to a 2.4s lead at the end of the lap.
Alessandro Giusti spun into the barriers as he fought with Matias Zagazeta, but managed to get going again without the necessity for the safety car to be employed again.
Joshua Duerksen was another to impress, passing Lorenzo Fluxa for seventh around the outside of the fast right-hander at Scheivlak, and chasing after Stenshorne.
Having come under pressure initially from Tramnitz, van Hoepen moved onto the tail of his team-mate, Amand, with Tramnitz trailing the two, 0.5s behind.
Amand defended into Tarzan as they started the last lap, holding off his team-mate by just 0.031s at the line to lead an ART Grand Prix double podium.
Up front, Antonelli was long gone, taking the flag, victory and the championship, 12.275s ahead of the ART GP pair. Befitting the weekend’s wildly fluctuating weather, the sun was shining brightly to greet Antonelli as he crossed the line.
Race result (17 laps)
|1||Andrea Kimi Antonelli||Prema|
|2||Marcus Amand||ART Grand Prix||+12.275|
|3||Laurens van Hoepen||ART Grand Prix||+12.306|
|4||Tim Tramnitz||R-ace GP||+12.867|
|5||Nikita Bedrin||Monolite Racing||+16.043|
|6||Martinius Stenshorne||R-ace GP||+17.139|
|9||Sami Meguetounif||MP Motorsport||+19.942|
|10||Matias Zagazeta||R-ace GP||+22.629|
|11||Evan Giltaire||ART Grand Prix||+23.474|
|12||Pierre-Louis Chovet||Sainteloc Racing||+25.010|
|14||Kas Haverkort||Van Amersfoort Racing||+30.030|
|15||Javier Sagrera||MP Motorsport||+31.148|
|16||Victor Bernier||MP Motorsport||+31.598|
|20||Ivan Domingues||Van Amersfoort Racing||+34.497|
|21||Enzo Scionti||Monolite Racing||+38.173|
|22||Francesco Soldavini||G4 Racing||+39.587|
|23||Niels Koolen||Van Amersfoort Racing||+1 lap|
|Ret||Alessandro Giusti||G4 Racing|
|Ret||Giovanni Maschio||Monolite Racing|
|Ret||Emmo Fittipaldi||Sainteloc Racing|
|Ret||Maya Weug||KIC Motorsport|
|Ret||Pierre-Alexandre Provost||G4 Racing|
|DNS||Ivan Klymenko||KIC Motorsport|
|Fastest lap: Antonelli, 1m43.259s