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Mini “could never expect” podium and F3 points lead after starting 14th

by Ida Wood

Photo: Formula Motorsport Ltd

Gabriele Mini exceeded his expectations by finishing second and taking the points lead in FIA Formula 3’s Silverstone feature race after starting 14th.

Changing weather conditions set up a wild race, and Mini ended lap one in 25th. He returned to 14th on lap three as drivers pitted to switch between slick and wet tyres, and was eighth a lap later.

Mini then dropped to 11th, climbed to seventh and then caught on the wrong tyres and plummeted to 24th. But then the track started drying and after the lap 13 restart he climbed 20 spots in the last seven laps.

A penalty for Rodin Motorsport’s Callum Voisin promoted him to second, and gives him a six-point lead over Prema team-mate and race winner Arvid Lindblad who finished 0.874 seconds ahead.

“We had to choose the strategy, slicks or wets, and in the end our one of staying on slicks worked,” said Mini. “It was really hard to try and overtake Arvid, and even if I was a little faster at the end, the tyres were pushed to the limit for following too close for two laps, and we eventually ran out of tyres.”

He called his weekend haul of 24 points “the best we could have asked for”, with five coming from finishing sixth in the sprint race.

“Even though I missed out on the win by not even a second it’s still amazing. Considering I qualified P14 going home with 18 points is something you could never expect.”

Mini added: “We immediately switched from wets when there wasn’t a lot of rain. We had an issue with the radio so I couldn’t really tell the team what I thought in that moment. Luckily, I think that’s what saved us, it started working just one minute before starting so it was perfect.

“I slowed down quite a lot after the safety car line and then we decided at the very last moment to box. So I still had space to turn the car into the box. We lost a bit of time in the pits as Arvid was in front of me so I lost a lot of my track position. In the end, we stayed on the slicks, we stuck to it and when it was raining we knew that I just needed a tiny bit less [rain] and we would go much quicker. It was a crazy race and you have to pick a side. I think we went for the right one.

“It was quite hard [overtaking] because at one point in the race you’re so much quicker that even if you wanted to switch back you might break your wing without even realising.”

There were also “sketchy parts in the middle of the race” and “when it started raining a bit more we just had to stay on track and survive”. Mini knew on his strategy “we were going to drop to last but it was the way to go; we had to stick to it”.