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Euroformula Open 2017 season review

by Ida Wood
Harrison Scott

Photos: Fotospeedy

The 2017 Euroformula Open season was about one man: Harrison Scott. His record breaking run of 12 wins in 14 races with RP Motorsport meant he became champion with four races to go, and he decided against competing in the final two to concentrate on the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award.

There was of course competition, most often headed by Russian Nikita Troitskiy. The Drivex School driver failed to win a race all year, finishing second seven times, but also took home silverware as the rookie champion.

The third title up for grabs was the Spanish Formula 3 championship, which included the opening round at Estoril and the final two rounds at Jerez and Barcelona. Scott won four of the six races included in the championship, but was ineligible for points, meaning Carlin?s Devlin DeFrancesco took the crown.

Harrison Scott ENGLAND RP Motorsport
1st in standings, 340 points (12 wins, 11 poles, 9 fastest laps)

Scott won in the Winter Series, won again in the opening round at Estoril, then didn’t stop winning.

Twelve wins out of 14 was an enviable record, and it booked him a spot in the MABA final. He also won the BRDC’s Graham Hill Trophy, handed out to the British driver with the most meritorious performance in single-seaters. Only on two occasions he was beaten in a straight fight in a race, and his pace advantage was just as impressive.

Particular highlights of his season were Silverstone, where he crushed the opposition, and Monza, a track where he shouldn’t have been able to break way so easily in the way in he did, and where he also won his first car racing title.

He could move stateside next year, although a seat in GP3 is his main aim at the moment. Whatever he races in, he should be a threat.

Nikita Troitskiy RUSSIA?Drivex School
2nd in standings, 222 points (2 poles, 4 fastest laps), 1st in rookie standings, 124 points (7 wins)

Troitskiy?s remarkable lack of victories belies how frequently he kept Scott on his toes throughout the season.

Seven times he finished second, six of which were to Scott, and his podium tally of nine were second only to the champion. Arguably his most impressive performance was in the second race at Monza, where a puncture and subsequent pit stop meant he had to race from the back, with the assistance of two safety cars, to a sixth-place finish.

An off weekend the round before at Silverstone,?despite driver coach Warren Hughes’s belief that the track would suit the Russian, ended any title hopes, but his points tally meant he had a two-win margin over third placed man Devlin DeFrancesco by the end of the season.

The thoroughly deserved status of rookie champion did go Troitskiy’s way though, and had he not been against a Harrison Scott going through the form of his life, his rookie season would likely have gone down as one of the best in series history.

Devlin DeFrancesco CANADA Carlin
3rd in standings, 172 points (1 win), 3rd in rookie standings, 92 points (6 wins), 1st in Spanish F3 standings (1 win)

DeFrancesco came on leaps and bounds with Carlin during the season, and emerged as the closest rival to Scott on pace in the latter half of the year.

This lifted him from sixth in the standings prior to Silverstone, to his end position of third, and in the meantime he made a couple of appearances for Carlin?s European Formula 3 team. Victory in the final round at Barcelona was well deserved, and secured him the Spanish F3 title in the process.

Next year he will be making the move to European F3 permanent, and there’s nothing to say he won’t be fighting at the front with Carlin once again.

Simo Laaksonen FINLAND Campos
6th in standings, 100 points, 4th in rookie standings, 54 points (1 win), 3rd in Spanish F3 standings, 70 points

After three years of little success in Formula 4, Laaksonen needed a change of scenery, and his move to EF Open seemed to be an inspired choice.

The Finn initially trailed his more experienced team-mates at Campos, but a podium at Hungary and a strong end to the season, including finishing third in the chaotic second race at Monza, put him sixth in the standings.

Overall he was one of the more consistent scorers, and a win in the rookie classification meant he did at least get to stand on the top step of the podium.

Should he return in 2018, expect at least victories, and a possible championship challenge, although the drivers rumoured to join the field next year may put pay to that.

Ameya Vaidyanathan INDIA?Carlin
4th in standings,169 points (1 win, 1 pole, 1 fastest lap), 2nd in Spanish F3 standings, 97 points (1 pole, 1 fastest lap)

Ameya Vaidyanathan

Vaidyanathan started the year as a rival to Scott, but seemed to plateau as others improved, and then a three round stint at Carlin?s European F3 team appeared to be a distraction.

A nine race run without visiting the podium between Paul Ricard and Barcelona scuppered his chances of beating Troitskiy to second in the standings, and his final round resurgence at Barcelona proved too little, too late as he fell to fourth in the standings.

Jannes Fittje GERMANY Fortec/RP Motorsport
5th in standings, 159 points, 2nd in rookie standings, 95 points (2 wins)

A mid-season switch from Fortec to become Scott?s team-mate at RP Motorsport immediately doubled Fittje?s podium tally for the season at Monza, but his real problem was his weekends dropping away.

He would often be challenging at the top during free practice, then slowly slip down the order as the weekend continued. He still managed to finish in the top five six times before his team switch, and was still in at a shot for third in the standings in Barcelona thanks to his consistent point scoring.

Alex Karkosik POLAND RP Motorsport
8th in standings, 98 points (1 fastest lap), 5th in rookie standings, 37 points

Photo: Fotospeedy

It was difficult to tell on occasion how much of Karkosik?s performance was to be attributed to himself, and how much to his fantastically set up RP Motorsport-ran car.

Either way some of his drives, such as race one at Silverstone, were spellbinding, and the Formula Gulf champion improved greatly over the season.

He was still mistake prone though, with starts in particular failing him frequently, but two podiums in his second season of car racing wasn’t a bad return.

He’s currently racing in the MRF Challenge, where it seems his start line issues are still plaguing him.

Thiago Vivacqua BRAZIL Campos
7th in standings, 98 points (1 win, 1 fastest lap), 5th in Spanish F3 standings, 57 points


To put into perspective how disappointing Vivacqua?s season was, he went into it as one of the title favourites, but ended it behind his rookie team-mate in the standings.

Now in his fifth season of cars, the Formula Renault 2.0 Alps race winner and Brazilian F3 front-runner was one of the fastest at the beginning of the season, picking up two podiums in the first four races. A win at the Hungaroring followed, but his tally of 15 points over the next nine races meant he slipped to seventh, far less than he was expecting.

Had he continued his form from the first half of the season, he would’ve comfortably been third in the standings.

Matheus Iorio BRAZIL Campos
9th in standings, 52 points, 6th in Spanish F3 standings, 57 points

Iorio?s season started brightly with a podium, but it quickly fell flat after that.

The reigning Brazilian F3 champion spent most of his time battling for the lower points places, and this resulted in crashes on occasion.

He failed to finish in the points in seven of the 16 races, and his highest finish after the first two rounds were two seventh places at Silverstone and Monza.

Much was promised, but little was delivered by the Brazilian.

Petru Florescu ROMANIA Campos/Fortec
10th in standings, 45 points, 7th in rookie standings, 22 points, 7th in Spanish F3 standings, 50 points

Florescu spent the first three rounds of the season at Campos, where he finished in the points every race, and amassed an impressive tally of 34 points.

His tally in the remaining five rounds was 11, with four of those coming from the drivers ahead of him being ineligible for points in the Barcelona finale.

Having began the season as one of the top seven drivers, he ended it more likely to end his race in the gravel than in the points.

In post-season testing Florescu has been running with Fortec, and looks set to remain with the team for next year.

The rest

Tarun Reddy, like Florescu, started the season promisingly with one team, and ended it dismally with another.

22 of his 26 points came in the first half of the season with Carlin, with his switch to Drivex only leading to another four points. In Barcelona he crashed out of both races, putting an end to a disappointing season.

After Florescu’s departure, Campos had to find a replacement driver, with its GP3 racer?Raoul Hyman completing the job at the Hungaroring. The South African was immediately on it, taking pole at the first attempt in qualifying.

It didn’t equate into a win, but a fourth and a third put him ahead of five full-time drivers in the standings, and would’ve turned into second place in the standings had he contested the full season with that form.

British F3 frontrunner Cameron Das?occupied the seat from thereon, but the American couldn’t quite get his head around the car in the same way Hyman did. Nevertheless he finished four of the eight races he contested in the points.

With hopes of British F3 title glory decreasing,?Ben Hingeley?s sponsors decided to place him in EF Open for the Silverstone round. Despite power issues and a car that hadn’t run on track for a season, the Welshman managed two top six finishes, and his sponsors decided to keep him in the championship for the rest of the season.

The results on the European tracks didn’t quite match his returns from the Silverstone weekend, but his part-season was strong enough to take him to 11th overall in the standings.

Spanish karting champion Eliseo Martinez stepped straight up to F3 for his car racing debut, and did an impressive job. He was the strongest of the Teo Martin Motorsport drivers, particularly in the latter half of the season, and finished in the points on nine occasions, including three top five finishes.

Felipe Drugovich made up for his ADAC F4 championship defeat by blowing everyone out of the water at Barcelona, substituting for champion Scott at the Barcelona finale.?A stupid error while leading in the first race cost him the win, but he made up for it in the second, and demonstrated the kind of performance that could?ve possibly kept Scott off the top spot of the podium had the Briton been present.

Italian F4 star Lorenzo Colombo?also made a strong F3 debut at Barcelona, finishing in the top six twice and demonstrating some great overtaking prowess after a poor start off the line.

The 2016 ADAC F4 champion Joey Mawson obviously has talent, but it wasn’t always showcased this year in FIA European F3 as he battled for the lower points places.?His end-of-season cameo was to act as a reset, but it didn’t go to plan as an over-defensive rival and a weak BVM Racing package meant he only managed one fourth place.

Asian FR2.0 winner and 2017 Renault Road to Champion winner Daniel Lu made his F3 debut at Monza, and immediately made an impact. His 15th and 16th place finishes were unrepresentative, and were it not for a puncture and an error, he would likely have got a top five finish. If he returns, expect the young Chinese driver to be battling at the front.

Daniel Lu

Brazilian F3 stars Christian Hahn and Guilherme Samaia both under-performed, especially considering the performance their respective team-mates got out of their machinery.

Hahn had the proud distinction of only failing to finish one race though, with the majority of the others spent fruitlessly scrapping for positions outside of the points. These kind of battles normally put points places out of reach, and thus he only finished in the top ten on three occasions.

Drivex has re-signed the Brazilian for 2018, where an upturn in results will be expected.

Samaia only contested half the season, but more would have been expected from this year’s Brazilian champion than only two points finishes.

Twenty-year-old Lodovico Laurini only had karting experience prior to 2017, but he did have one of the coveted RP Motorsport cars this season, so it’s difficult to judge just how well he performed.

Judged against his team-mates he was simply off the pace, and his points scoring finish at Silverstone was more a sign of the strength of the package rather than Laurini?s talent.

In contrast, Pedro Cardoso?came into the season with several years of experience, but his form was just as weak. Another to spend most of his days battling for lowly positions, he only managed three points.

Daniil Pronenko and BVM Racing continued their 2016 partnership, this time with even less success as the Russian failed to finish in the points in any of the races.

Fellow Russian Yan Leon Shlom?had a peculiar?year, starting it as a race-winner in the EF Open Winter Series. He just missed out on points at Estoril, then didn’t return to the championship till Monza, where he finished 12th twice.

Javier Cobian,?Alexey Chuklin?and?Najiy Razak all made brief appearances, with all but Nazak managing to score points.