In a round of penalties and subsequent successful appeals at Norisring, Raffaele Marciello and Felix Rosenqvist take a victory each, maintaining? their leading duo status, while Alex Lynn scores second win of 2013…
FIA European F3 Championship
It’s all square between Marciello and Rosenqvist at Norisring amidst penalty chaos
Round six of the European F3 championship taking place at Norisring was most peculiar in the sense that the center stage for its entirety was occupied by anything but racing – with at least two major penalty controversies severely impacting the entire weekend. However, amidst the chaos of rules and appeals, the series drivers still managed to impress around what is a very challenging track, severely decreasing the amount of incidents compared to the series’ visit last year and producing quick, close racing.
Again, as has been the case for most of the season, it was all about two drivers. Raffaele Marciello, the championship leader, was one of them, and the Ferrari junior was back on form after a nightmarish weekend at Spielberg. He missed out on race one pole by 0.001s, but was the most consistently quick over one lap pace in both sessions, thus taking pole position for races two and three. Marciello’s weekend looked all the more promising when he took the lead off the line in race one and dominated the proceedings in his usual fashion. The trouble started after the Italian crossed the line in first and attended the podium ceremony, upon which he and 11 other drivers were informed that they’d receive 20-second penalties for failure to slow down accordingly for double-waved yellows. He was demoted in the classification, yet, after an appeal from Prema, Marciello was one of the drivers to have his penalty lifted, his race victory reinstated.
In race two, Marciello was beaten off the line by an on-form Alex Lynn and, trying to hold on to the lead through turn one, was forced wide, which saw him fall down to fifth on the road. From that point on, Marciello’s race was a recovery drive and he eventually settled into third. He made a better start in race three, but couldn’t hold on to the win, lacking that race-winning pace and coming home in second. As a result, his championship lead has taken a slight hit, though he still leads the series standings.
The other center of attention was Felix Rosenqvist, Marciello’s main rival in the standings, coming off a perfect Spielberg weekend where he picked up three wins. He was the one to snatch away pole in qualifying one, and generally looked very rapid around Norisring, but his chances of a great round came under threat when the fuel in his car was found to not comply with the regulations. The implications of that would mean that he’d start all three races from the back, but, with Mucke Motorsport filing an appeal, Rosenqvist kept his grid positions, albeit now racing under a severe possibility of disqualification.
In race one, Felix lost out to Raffaele off the start and was forced to settle for second at the line, after which he was not allowed onto the podium. He was, again, second in race two, making the most out of the fight between the Prema teammates, and was yet again absent from the podium ceremonies. On Sunday, it all got better, though – upon review, the penalty was lifted, removing the threat of disqualification and allowing Rosenqvist to keep his finishes. That seemed to bolster his spirits and he managed to beat Marciello on pace to take a strong race three win, putting himself just 24.5 points behind the Italian in the standings.
While Rosenqvist and Marciello continued their title fight, Prema’s Alex Lynn was the best of the rest. He qualified well and finished on the podium behind the pair in races one and three, while, in race two, he scored his second win of the season. Meanwhile, Lucas Auer, another Prema frontrunner, had an awful time, qualifying a bit down the order and then losing his podium in race one to a yellow flag penalty that, unlike the ones for Lynn and Marciello, was not lifted. Auer didn’t make the top ten in race two classification either and, while he did score some points in race three, but, overall, this will be a weekend to forget for the Austrian.
The potential penalties for the leaders created a rollercoaster of emotions for EuroInternational’s Tom Blomqvist who, despite finishing seventh on the road in race one, was given his first victory in European F3 post-race. A noticeably baffled Blomqvist didn’t seem to take much pride in the win and hopefully wasn’t too upset when it was taken away due to appeals that, in the end, placed him in fifth. The rest of the weekend was a lot calmer for the Red Bull junior, who drove well to produce two more solid points finishes.
The Fortec charge, now down to only two drivers, was once again led by Felix Serralles, who took fourth in race one and sixth in race two. In race three, however, Serralles severely hurt the overall impression of his weekend, crashing into Jann Mardenborough and ending his own race. Meanwhile, Pipo Derani had one of his best weekends this year, with two strong top ten finishes in races two and three.
Series frontrunner Harry Tincknell had a rather quiet weekend, largely running in the deep end of the top ten for all three races. The same was true for his teammate Jordan King, and the duo quite frequently found themselves embroiled in wheel-to-wheel fights.
Finally, two drivers, who were making their first appearance in the series in 2013, both managed to impress. Alex Sims turned out to be a great stand-in for T-Sport, helping them to their most prolific (points-wise) weekend of 2013 and being a frequent competitor in the top five. Meanwhile,Nick Cassidy looked very competent at the wheel of the second EuroInternational car, yet a lack of consistency and luck means he leaves the weekend with a best finish of 11th.
Next round: Nurburgring, August 16-18
Maiden winners lose victories to penalties as Campana levels with Sato
Taking place during a weekend that turned out to be mostly about controversial penalties in junior single-seaters, the Mugello round of the Auto GP World Series adhered to the general theme rather well, as two drivers who took their maiden wins throughout the round found them taken away post-race.
Dutchman Meindert van Buuren lined up on the grid of race one in eighth place, but turned out to be the biggest beneficiary in a race full of on-track mayhem, making his way up the field to eventually cross the finish line in first place, taking his first podium and victory in the series. A few hours later, the Manor MP driver was penalized for crossing the white line on pit exit after making his mandatory stop, which resulted in a penalty, demoting van Buuren to tenth in the classification.
A similar story occurred in race two, which, on-track was won by Kevin Giovesi, the Italian GP2 driver who’s entered the Auto GP series a round prior. Giovesi, who was in contention for the victory in race one and ultimately was classified in second, took the lead into turn one from seventh on the grid in the second race. He converted the lead into a victory, but was judged to have disrespected track limits during his turn one manoeuvre, making for a post-race time penalty that demoted him to fifth. It’s worth noting that Giovesi already crossed the line in first in Auto GP in the previous run, but was likewise denied the win after the race.
Van Buuren’s penalty in race one benefited series frontrunner Sergio Campana, who inherited the race win, having wisely kept out of trouble on the road, something his main rivals couldn’t do. The Italian was then denied points in race two, falling out of the top ten due to a slow pitstop, but his race one win promoted him to the top of the standings
F1 refugee Narain Karthikeyan was the beneficiary in race two, having endured a difficult weekend up to that point. He topped qualifying, but an issue with the car meant that Karthikeyan would be starting from the pitlane. He managed to recover to fourth (with van Buuren’s penalty making that a podium finish), and then later finished second in the reverse-grid race to inherit the win.
As for previous series leader Kimiya Sato, the Japanese driver had a very tough round ahead of his F1 Young Drivers’ Test appearance with Sauber. His race one ended early after he was taken out by Christian Klien and, although he managed to make it to the top three in race two, the Euronova driver lost the series lead. At this stage, though, it’s all a formality, as Campana and Sato are level on points.
Finally, Super Nova’s Vittorio Ghirelli continued to quietly edge himself into title contention, now only 13 points behind the leading duo. He could’ve very well led the series by now, but a mistake after a green flag restart in race one saw him miss out on the fight for the race win. He made up for it in the second race, taking his sixth podium finish of the year.
Next round: Nurburgring, 16-18 August
European F3 Open
Urrutia and Jones bolster title claims yet the lead remains with Stuvik
Series leader Sandy Stuvik looked set to make up for a distinctly average performance at the previous round, taking Saturday pole for European F3’s Saturday affair. However, it wasn’t to be, as the Thai racer lost out on the lead into turn one and then continued to fall down the order due to poorly-judged overtaking attempts, eventually finishing fifth. Stuvik then made up for the lost points in race two, calmly converting a front row start into second place, but, overall, his points lead has taken another hit with three rounds to go.
It’s Team West-Tec’s Ed Jones who should, at this point in time, seem the most threatening to Stuvik’s lead. The driver from United Arab Emirates managed to snatch away the race win on Saturday, making the most out of incidents ahead, and then added a podium on Sunday. He’s now only seven points behind Stuvik, despite having missed the first round of the series.
Another contender for the title and Stuvik’s teammate at RP Motorsport, Santiago Urrutia enjoyed a very strong round that saw him emerge from an outside shot at the championship into the immediate proximity of the series leader. He started race one in eighth, but was second come checkered flag. In race two, the young driver from Uruguay took his second win of the championship, securing a lights-to-flag win from pole.
Canadian Nelson Mason is still within the hunt as well, even if his bad luck in the series continued with two incidents at Silverstone. In race one, he had to settle for third after contact with Alex Toril saw him lose the lead, while on Sunday he was taken out from fourth by Hector Hurst. A comeback is still quite possible though – he is only four points behind Urrutia and 32 behind Stuvik.
The aforementioned Toril was the best of the rest throughout the weekend, taking two fourth places and settling into fifth in the standings. Meanwhile, in the Copa class, both series leader Richard Gonda and Tommaso Menchini picked up wins, but it’s Cameron Twynham who was the most consistent scorer, now trailing Gonda by 12 points.
Next round: Spa-Francorchamps, 6-8 September
Frontrunners Rovera, Iaquinta and Beretta add to their win tallies at Mugello
The Mugello round of Formula Abarth marked the end of the season’s first half and also saw what was perhaps series leader Alessio Rovera‘s weakest performance to date. The Italian was still inarguably the quickest man of the field, topping both qualifying sessions and completely dominating the first race to take win number four of his season. In race two, however, he collected series guest Kevin Gilardoni during his fight through the reverse-grid field, marking Rovera’s first retirement of the year. A three-place grid penalty followed for race three, in which Rovera could not make up any ground, seemingly struggling with damaged machinery to finish in fourth. Still, his lead is pretty safe, with 37 points over the nearest rival.
That nearest rival is now Michele Beretta, who made the most out of a weekend where the other frontrunners struggled, making it to the podium in the first two races and taking his first victory in the series to round out the weekend. Meanwhile, Simone Iaquinta also added to his win tally in the reverse-grid race, but was severely hampered by mechanical issues in qualifying that put him at the back for the feature races, preventing him from fighting for podiums.
One-off drivers Giorgio Roda, Gilardoni and Dario Orsini all seemed reasonably quick and bagged a podium each. Meanwhile, the best regular of the rest – Brazilian Lukas Moraes – noticeably struggled for pace, but looked very strong in the reverse-grid race, almost holding off Beretta for second and eventually closing out the podium.
In the National class, Russian Sergey Trofimov was the top driver in all three races, extending his lead in the standings.
Next round: Imola, 30 August – 1 September
Formula Renault 1.6 Sweden
The third round of the FR 1.6 Sweden season, taking place at Falkenberg, saw yet another double. This time, the two wins were picked up by Erik Johansson, who converted both poles into race wins.
In race one, the podium was completed by Lukas Sundahl and Martin Rump, while, in race two, Rump went one better in second, with Pontus Fredricsson rounding out the top three.
Estonian Rump now sits on top of the standings with 111 points, but both previous leader Kimmy Larsson (who finished fourth and fifth at Falkenberg) and Johansson are not far behind, setting up an interesting fight for the series lead for the next round.
Next round: Kinnekulle, 26-27 July
Formula Renault Argentina
Series veteran Julian Santero continued to dominate this year’s Formula Renault Argentina, picking up both wins in races eight and nine of the season at Rio Hondo.
Santero started race one from pole and, by the checkered flag, beat Manuel Luque to the line by eight seconds, with Guillermo Rey picking up his first podium in the series in third.
In race two, Santero produced another good drive to take his seventh win of the year, with Luque again in second and Manuel Mallo in third.
With six races to go in the season, Santero leads nearest rival Luque by 49 points.
Next round: Catamarca, 10-11 August
The fourth round of the season, taking place at Fuji, saw another double pole from series leader Yuichi Nakayama.
However, the 21-year-old Petronas Team Tom’s driver could not hold on to the lead, losing out to teammate and main rival Takamoto Katsuta on lap one and settling for second, with series veteran Tomoki Nojiri taking third.
In race two, Nakayama converted pole into a dominant win, finishing ahead of Katsura and Nobuharu Matsushita.
Overall, Nakayama leads the standings with 98 points to Katsura’s 65, with Nojiri down in third with only 29 points.
Next round: Motegi, 2-4 August
PaddockScout Driver of the Weekend
It could have honestly gone either way, with Santiago Urrutia also making a very good case for being driver of the weekend, but in the end, Rosenqvist just impressed that little bit more. He was on it in qualifying, finished second on the road in the first two races before, very impressively, snatching the race win away from Marciello in race three. Perhaps, he could’ve done more, but the fact that Rosenqvist raced under pressure of a potential disqualification, not allowed on the podium for the first two races and excluded from the classification at first, created very difficult conditions for the Swede and, yet, we saw him thrive – and that’s what was, perhaps, the best part of his Norisring performance.