Kiwi pilot Richie Stanaway will make his full-time return to single-seater racing this season in the GP3 Series with Status Grand Prix.
The 22-year-old is to drive alongside Nick Yelloly and Alfonso Celis Jr, having completed five test days with the Irish-Canadian squad in recent weeks.
The opening race in Barcelona will not be Stanaway’s GP3 debut – the Kiwi competed in four races at the tail end of the 2011 season, before moving on to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. However a heavy crash at Spa-Francorchamps in 2012, which resulted in a back injury, prematurely curtailed his season and temporarily brought his single-seater days to a close.
As an official factory driver of the Aston Martin Racing team, Stanaway spent 2013 competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship (in the LM GTE Pro class), as well as the Porsche Supercup with DAMS. Stanaway will continue his duties with Aston Martin for the rest of this season.
Undeterred by previous setbacks, Stanaway – who is also part of Gravity Sport management’s roster – is keen to make the most of the opportunity ahead. “For my single-seater career, I always hoped my injury was a bump in the road, not the end of the road. Branching into GTs last year was an important step for me, and I’m very happy to be staying with Aston Martin in a parallel programme, but I am also extremely grateful to have another opportunity on the single-seater ladder. And the GP3 Series is an ideal place for me to do that.”
Stanaway added: “The GP3 testing has gone well. To date we have not yet shown the full potential of me and the #27 Status GP car over a single lap, but the build up has been effective and I have learned a huge amount about what’s required to succeed in GP3.”
Status GP team principal Teddy Yip Jr commented: “Richie is a real talent whose progress we always followed through the ranks, and we’re delighted to have the opportunity to race with him now. He complements Nick and Alfonso perfectly in the team. Like us all, Richie is hungry for success, and has fitted in extremely well into the organisation. We’d like to thank Aston Martin Racing and Gravity Sport Management for making this possible, and we look forward to a successful season together.”
The GP3 Series commences in a little over two weeks, as a support to the Spanish Grand Prix.
It has been something of a thundering start to the FIA European F3 season for Esteban Ocon.
In his opening three races, the French teenager nabbed one win, two further podiums, two pole positions and one fastest lap.
A stellar effort for a rookie in any championship, let alone a rookie in championship of this calibre. With the Prema Powerteam squad, Ocon has displayed a prowess and ability to adapt not often seen by young drivers at this level.
That the new engine reacts in a similar fashion to the motors that power the lower Formula Renault categories helps, for the 17-year-old is a graduate of just such a category.
That Ocon also has the powerhouse that is Prema and the Lotus F1 Junior Team supporting him must not go underestimated either.
Yet, the débutante will no doubt be looking over his shoulder, because lying in wait is another rookie, Antonio Fuoco – also impressive, also a winner, also a Prema driver, but a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy.
With another rookie, Max Verstappen also proving a speedy young thing and the presence of F3 veterans Felix Rosenqvist and Tom Blomqvist, this is already looking far more competitive than last year’s championship.
But there is still such a long way to go…
This should have been a time of anticipation for the returning Signature Racing.
An occasion when the famed French company thrust their hand upon the FIA European F3 Championship and brought the fight to the Volkswagen and Mercedes-powered entries.
However when the Renault-engined squad launched into testing at the Hungaroring recently and later the Red Bull Ring, something was dreadfully wrong.
Where the likes of Prema Powerteam, Carlin and van Amersfoort fought for the leading places and times during the sessions, Signature were struggling.
The cars, initially piloted by Oscar Tunjo and Tatiana Calderon, proved slow during their first running at the Hungarian circuit and things would go no better on the following day.
For the second test at the Spielberg circuit, Marco Sorensen replaced Tunjo in an effort to bring in a more experienced head, but he could do no better.
Reports emerged of a 20 kph deficit on the straights began to emerge, as the French black-and-gold cars remained rooted to the foot of the time sheets.
Come Silverstone and it’s all over. With the engine unit homologated for the season and therefore pinned for the season, Tunjo was withdrawn and Calderon transferred to Zeller Racing with Mücke.
Signature were left with no drivers and an under-powered engine that few would touch. There are no prizes for last position, but lots of potential to damage reputations and no sensible driver would risk that.
And so the curtains are drawn, before light had even had an opportunity to shine. Whether Renault or Signature return to make amends in 2015 though…
The feel was certainly different on Good Friday. For a start, there were far more Red Bull replica shirts present than before.
The slight throng of hands clutching pen, paper and camera phones were noticeable and became even more prominent during the autograph session prior to the opening FIA World Endurance Championship race today.
That this Good Friday was warm, if a touch breezy, probably brought a few extra punters; keen for an autograph and the briefest of moments with a star.
And don’t underestimate him. Mark Webber is a star.
Oh, maybe not in the way Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso are stars, but still the man attracts. And while it is his status that the ACO and the FIA will play upon when promoting this eight-date world tour, there is little doubt that Porsche have brought the Australian in to capitalise on his skill and speed.
For Webber, there is the matter of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and a lot of unfinished business. It is not 1999 and this is no incorrectly designed Mercedes. In the Porsche 919, Webber will also see an opportunity for a World Championship and that should be more than enough to get his blood pumping.
But take care today, for while blue skies courted Friday’s Free Practice, heavy clouds drew on raceday, doing much to turn the Easter meeting upside down.
Antonio Fuoco claimed his first FIA European Formula 3 Championship victory at a cold and windy Silverstone this morning.
The Italian teenager fronted an all-rookie podium; alongside runner-up Max Verstappen and 3rd place man Esteban Ocon.
Fuoco (Prema Powerteam) jumped teammate and poleman Ocon off the line and led a close gaggle of four cars through the Village-Abbey-Arena section.
As the quartet poured onto the Wellington straight, taking care not to collide, Fuoco filtered into the lead ahead of Ocon, who led Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam Carlin), who led Verstappen (van Amersfoort).
For a time Ocon pressed Fuoco; however the new leading man – with two new tyres – held sway, while Ocon – on used Hankook rubber – began to struggle as the race aged somewhat.
Blomqvist too was beginning to lose precious grip in the early stages, allowing Verstappen to pass into the Loop, but the feisty Blomqvist fought back briefly, only for Verstappen to solidify the position shortly thereafter.
The move was investigated for a time following suspicions that it had been completed under yellow flags; however the race stewards would conclude that it was a clean move.
Verstappen’s move for 3rd cemented one segment of the race. Seeing 2nd place just ahead, the Dutch racer zeroed in on Ocon, allowing Fuoco more freedom to drive away in the lead.
As Ocon mirrors and concentration began to fill with Dutch youth, Fuoco drew away, eventually building a lead on 4.7s come the chequered flag. This would be Fuoco’s first Formula 3 victory and it was done in style. “My race start was fantastic,” said the victor. “I managed to overtake Esteban right away. I believe that was the key to success. This was my first weekend in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship and I am really delighted that I can already celebrate my first win.”
Behind Fuoco, the slowing Ocon held Verstappen at bay – for a time – but the move was inevitable. The decisive move came on lap 11, when Verstappen played a dummy on Ocon through Abbey, before diving inside for the runner-up spot. Ocon played aggressive for a few corners in an effort to retake his position, but Verstappen had sealed the deal.
The Dutch racer commented that: “I made a good start and I was able to battle for the top positions right away. Towards the middle of the race, my tyres started to degrade but I still maintained a good pace.”
With the two positions escaping, Ocon held his final podium place with little threat from behind, ensuring the rookie maintained the points lead prior to the next round at the Hockenheimring. For Ocon, the race was a mixture of positive and negative elements. “Antonio’s start was better than mine so that allowed him to overtake me for the lead. In the first two laps, I was faster, but I couldn’t overtake him. Perhaps, I was running too closely behind him at that time and ruined my front tyres while doing so.”
Nicholas Latifi made it three Prema Powerteam entries in the top four, following a long and forceful battle with Blomqvist. The Canadian lost his 4th place off the start, but pushed the Carlin man for several laps; a battle that saw the pair swap position twice during the fifth lap.
Latifi would finally complete the job on lap nine, when he made a stellar pass around the outside of Blomqvist in Copse.
The slowing Blomqvist would lose out further still when teammate Antonio Giovinazzi passed for 5th on lap 14. Admittedly, it was the end of an intriguing journey for Giovinazzi, who fell from 6th to 11th at the start, before passing Jordan King and John Bryant-Meisner (both lap 2), Felix Rosenqvist (lap 9) and Lucas Auer on lap 11.
The spinning Ed Jones gave Giovinazzi another position – also on lap 11 – bringing the Italian to the rear of the struggling Blomqvist.
For Blomqvist, 6th would be the best he could muster, although had there been another lap, he may have fallen behind the recovering Rosenqvist.
It had been a disastrous weekend for the Mücke team. Mechanical and set-up issues had left the German squad struggling and it saw Rosenqvist’s title challenge stutter badly at the first hurdle – again.
The Swede had made a good start. From the seventh row, Rosenqvist had jumped to 9th on the opening tour and was 8th a circulation later, although he would lose two places at the halfway point. Jones’ spin and difficulties for Auer and King brought Rosenqvist up to 7th, but that was the best he could manage following a frustrating weekend.
A disappointed Rosenqvist later noted: “We were a little bit stronger after making some set-up changes for the final race, but we still obviously can’t be happy. We have a lot of work ahead of us, and we need to improve the situation quickly, but I’m confident we’ll be able to fight back. It’s still very early days in the season and we’ll do absolutely everything to turn this around sooner rather than later.”
Auer would claim 8th on the final lap, when he passed the damaged King; the latter having partially broken his front wing a few laps previously. Indeed despite the removal of front end grip, King held on remarkably well irrespective of the pressure coming from behind.
Felix Serralles could not pass King and thus settled for 10th and the final point. It marks a positive result for the Puerto Rican, who started on the eighth row and passed Bryant-Meisner and Dennis van de Laar on his way to the top ten.
2014 FIA European F3 Championship (Rd 1, Race 3, Silverstone) Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Antonio Fuoco Prema Dallara-Merc 34m13.614s 2. Max Verstappen Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW +4.731s 3. Esteban Ocon Prema Dallara-Merc +9.325s 4. Nicholas Latifi Prema Dallara-Merc +17.322s 5. Antonio Giovinazzi Carlin Dallara-VW +21.667s 6. Tom Blomqvist Carlin Dallara-VW +25.945s 7. Felix Rosenqvist Mucke Dallara-Merc +26.266s 8. Lucas Auer Mucke Dallara-Merc +32.033s 9. Jordan King Carlin Dallara-VW +33.437s 10. Felix Serralles West-Tec Dallara-Merc +33.814s 11. John Bryant-Meisner Fortec Dallara-Merc +34.027s 12. Dennis van de Laar Prema Dallara-Merc +34.448s 13. Hector Hurst West-Tec Dallara-Merc +35.474s 14. Alexander Toril T-Sport Dallara-NBE +35.792s 15. Ed Jones Carlin Dallara-VW +38.021s 16. Roy Nissany Mucke Dallara-Merc +39.821s 17. Michele Beretta Eurointernational Dallara-Merc +42.527s 18. Gustavo Menezes Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW +43.205s 19. Tatiana Calderon Jo Zeller Dallara-Merc +45.972s 20. Jules Szymkowiak Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW +48.697s 21. Spike Goddard T-Sport Dallara-NBE +1m16.767s Retirements: Riccardo Agostini Eurointernational Dallara-Merc 16 laps Sean Gelael Carlin Dallara-VW 15 laps Mitchell Gilbert Fortec Dallara-Merc 1 lap Jake Dennis Carlin Dallara-VW 0 laps Felipe Guimaraes Double R Dallara-Merc 0 laps
2014 FIA European F3 Championship (Rd 1) Drivers' Championship (Pts) 1. Esteban Ocon 58 2. Antonio Fuoco 52 3. Tom Blomqvist 43 4. Nicholas Latifi 38 5. Max Verstappen 28 Rookie Championship (Pts) 1. Esteban Ocon 65 2. Antonio Fuoco 61 3. Max Verstappen 33 4. Jules Szymkowiak 30 5. Jake Dennis 27 Teams' Championship (Pts) 1. Prema Powerteam 104 2. Jagonya Ayam with Carlin 72 3. Van Amersfoort 37 4. Mucke Motorsport 35 5. Carlin 29
Esteban Ocon claimed his first international Formula 3 victory at Silverstone today; in what was only his fourth ever race in the category.
The French youngster showed his class with a fabulous start, destroying the field in the opening few laps, ahead of fellow podium sitters Nicholas Latifi and Antonio Fuoco.
Indeed so good was Ocon’s opening few tours that the Frenchman pulled a clear three seconds clear in the first half-dozen circulations. From there, Ocon managed the race with ease, maintaining his Hankook tyres, while keeping Latifi at a reasonably safe distance.
Once the gap between Ocon and the chasing Latifi had grown to three seconds, the leading Prema Powerteam racer held steady, eventually winning by 3.8s after 18 laps. “I am really delighted,” exclaimed the first-time winner. “In this race, my start was better than in the first one and I managed to hold on to first place. Initially, I tried to pull a gap. Later, my goal was to save the tyres, to drive consistent lap times and to bring victory home safely.”
Latifi charged home to his first podium in the European Championship, while Fuoco – a further 1.5s in arrears – made it three Prema Powerteam entries in the top three. While lamenting the early gap to Ocon, the Canadian Latifi was delighted with his podium success. “My second place is making my very happy. In the early stages of the race, Esteban was faster, which was his great advantage later on. He was able to benefit from his margin in the second half of the race and turned it into victory.”
Like Ocon, Fuoco also made a good start; in this instance passing race one victor Tom Blomqvist on the approach into turn one. “I am very happy for being on the podium for the first time after my second race in Formula 3 already. My start was really good, I managed to overtake Tom Blomqvist right away and I came 3rd.”
For a brief period, the Jagonya Ayam Carlin racer kept close to the rear of Fuoco; however Blomqvist would fall back after a time, bringing the Anglo-Kiwi racer toward the clutches of the chasing Jordan King and Max Verstappen.
Starting back in 7th, King made another good launch off the line, jumping both Verstappen and Jones in one swoop, before laying pressure into Blomqvist come the seventh tour. With King under the rear wing of Blomqvist, Verstappen drew into the battle, as the trio pressurised each other into an error.
Alas, it would come from King on lap 16 – an attempted move on Blomqvist, saw the Carlin man momentarily fall off the circuit at Maggots, gifting 5th to Verstappen; however the Dutch rookie would not have enough time to steal 4th from Blomqvist.
Jones enjoyed a quiet race to 7th spot, although it is less likely that Antonio Giovinazzi and Dennis van de Laar could lay to such a claim.
Both Giovinazzi and van de Laar battled for much of the running, starting with Giovinazzi slipping by into 8th on lap two. From there, the pair were rarely split by more than one second, yet van de Laar was unable to make up the deficit.
John Bryant-Meisner held off a late charge from Felipe Guimaraes to collect the final point for 10th position. Where Bryant-Meisner rose one spot to 10th off the line, Guimaraes’ climb was more than impressive.
From 17th, the Brazilian had taken three drivers on lap one, before sweeping by Gustavo Menezes (lap 1), the mechanically disabled Felix Rosenqvist (lap 2) and Lucas Auer (lap 6).
The race was not without its clumsiness. Lower down the order on lap three, Roy Nissany ran off track exiting Stowe, allowing Spike Goddard an opportunity to pass for position. Unfortunately Nissany disagreed with this notion, deciding instead to punt Goddard into a spin, with the latter retiring on the spot.
Hector Hurst too had an off, with the Team West-Tec driver clouting barriers close to the end.
2014 FIA European F3 Championship (Rd 1, Race 2, Silverstone) Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Esteban Ocon Prema Dallara-Mercedes 33m53.215s 2. Nicholas Latifi Prema Dallara-Mercedes +3.678s 3. Antonio Fuoco Prema Dallara-Mercedes +5.148s 4. Tom Blomqvist Carlin Dallara-VW +9.264s 5. Max Verstappen Van Amersfoot Dallara-VW +11.237s 6. Jordan King Carlin Dallara-VW +11.914s 7. Ed Jones Carlin Dallara-VW +19.293s 8. Antonio Giovinazzi Carlin Dallara-VW +20.649s 9. Dennis van de Laar Prema Dallara-Mercedes +21.877s 10. John Bryant-Meisner Fortec Dallara-Mercedes +23.533s 11. Felipe Guimares Double R Dallara-Mercedes +24.078s 12. Lucas Auer Mucke Dallara-Mercedes +24.548s 13. Gustavo Menezes Van Amersfoot Dallara-VW +30.106s 14. Felix Rosenqvist Mucke Dallara-Mercedes +31.293s 15. Felix Serralles West-Tec Dallara Mercedes +32.009s 16. Mitch Gilbert Fortec Dallara-Mercedes +32.766s 17. Jake Dennis Carlin Dallara-VW +33.362s 18. Alexander Toril T-Sport Dallara-NBE +40.060s 19. Tatiana Calderon Jo Zeller Dallara-Mercedes +46.004s 20. Sean Gelael Carlin Dallara-VW +48.528s 21. Michele Beretta EuroInternational Dallara-Mercedes +49.158s 22. Roy Nissany Mucke Dallara-Mercedes +1m01.985s 23. Riccardo Agostini EuroInternational Dallara-Mercedes +1m02.208s 24. Jules Szymkowiak Van Amersfoot Dallara-VW +1m03.172s Retirements: Hector Hurst West-Tec Dallara Mercedes +3 laps Spike Goddard T-Sport Dallara-NBE +16 laps
Carlin’s Tom Blomqvist grabbed the opening race of the FIA European F3 Championship season this morning.
It was also the first international F3 victory that the Cambridge-born racer has taken since his graduation to the category in 2012.
Blomqvist ended the race with a 2.1s advantage over the battling Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam), while the fast starting Jordan King (Carlin) and Antonio Fuoco (Prema Powerteam) finished close behind.
The 20-year-old Blomqvist enjoyed a strong start from the line and immediately drew a solid lead over the Ocon / King pairing. “Of course, I am delighted with this victory,” said the Carlin man. “I intended to make a good start and pull a gap during the first few laps. I succeeded very well.”
However the gap would be annulled come the third lap, when the clashed, broken and stricken Michele Beretta and Alexander Toril proved extremely difficult for the marshal’s to safely move.
Following the green flag on lap seven, Blomqvist pulled to over one second clear of Ocon, who was in turn fighting off the intentions of King.
Where Blomqvist routinely pumped in consistent laps, securing the life of his Hankook tyres in the process, Ocon proved unable to challenge as he resisted pressure from behind. According to the Frenchman: “My re-start after the safety car went pretty well, but then, I was too closely behind Tom Blomqvist and Jordan King was able to overtake me. Fortunately, I managed to counter successfully a few metres later. After that, I consistently drove my laps until the finish.”
From there, Blomqvist gently pulled away as each tour ticked over, with the Anglo-Kiwi extending the lead to 2.3s come the thirteenth tours, but there really was no need to push any harder than that. Continuing, the race winner noted: “After I had built a little advantage, I was able to control the race until the end. I am very happy with such a start into the season.”
King’s presence faded somewhat as the race aged, bringing the Briton back toward Fuoco and giving Ocon the freedom to claim the runner-up spot. For a time, Fuoco began to threaten King, but the Italian youngster had left it too late make any real difference to the order.
With the podium secured, King commented: “My start and the first few metres were very good. I immediately made up two places and I gained another one in the third corner. At the re-start I even was past Esteban Ocon for a while, but I wasn’t able to hold on to second place for very long. I am still happy with third place, but I would have been slightly happier with second.”
Beyond the top four, Lucas Auer (Mücke) drove an impressive and aggressive race to climb to 5th after starting in 10th place. The Austrian claimed four places off the start as the field bled through the opening turns; however Auer really made his mark just after the restart, when he won a four corner battle with Nicholas Latifi (Prema Powerteam) that saw the pairing swap places and run side-by-side from the Village through to Brooklands.
Latifi would continue through to 6th place, ahead of Felix Serralles (Team West-Tec), who lost several places off the start. From the third row, Ed Jones lost one place at lights out, only to lose another when the recovering Serralles took 7th from him on lap 7.
Felix Rosenqvist made something of the weekend, by climbing the order to 9th. Starting mid-pack, the Swede made an emphatic start, jumping to 10th, before passing Felipe Guimaraes on the 10th lap, solidifying the top ten.
Spike Goddard won an intense battle for 14th in the final laps, beating Sean Gelael, Gustavo Menezes, Jake Dennis, John Bryant-Meisner and Jules Szymkowiak to the flag, although both Goddard and Dennis were hampered by broken front wings on the opening lap.
Max Verstappen retired with damaged after the opening lap. The Dutch racer appeared to lose out in a tussle when his Van Amersfoort machine bogged down off the line.
FIA European F3 Championship (Rd 1, Race 1, April 19th) Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Tom Blomqvist Carlin Dallara-VW 36m31.379s 2. Esteban Ocon Prema Dallara-Mercedes +0.490s 3. Jordan King Carlin Dallara-VW +1.361s 4. Antonio Fuoco Prema Dallara-Mercedes +1.661s 5. Lucas Auer Mucke Dallara-Mercedes +2.849s 6. Nicholas Latifi Prema Dallara-Mercedes +3.328s 7. Felix Serralles West-Tec Dallara Mercedes +4.238s 8. Ed Jones Carlin Dallara-VW +4.347s 9. Felix Rosenqvist Mucke Dallara-Mercedes +5.214s 10. Felipe Guimares Double R Dallara-Mercedes +5.490s 11. Dennis van de Laar Prema Dallara-Mercedes +6.885s 12. Antonio Giovinazzi Carlin Dallara-VW +6.885s 13. Mitch Gilbert Fortec Dallara-Mercedes +7.411s 14. Spike Goddard T-Sport Dallara-NBE +7.726s 15. Sean Gelael Carlin Dallara-VW +8.235s 16. Gustavo Menezes Van Amersfoot Dallara-VW +8.381s 17. Jake Dennis Carlin Dallara-VW +8.753s 18. John Bryant-Meisner Fortec Dallara-Mercedes +9.229s 19. Jules Szymkowiak Van Amersfoot Dallara-VW +12.309s 20. Roy Nissany Mucke Dallara-Mercedes +12.521s 21. Riccardo Agostini EuroInternational Dallara-Mercedes +1 lap 22. Hector Hurst West-Tec Dallara Mercedes +1 lap 23. Tatiana Calderon Jo Zeller Dallara-Mercedes +1 lap Retirements: Max Verstappen Van Amersfoot Dallara-VW +17 laps Alexander Toril T-Sport Dallara-NBE +18 laps Michele Beretta EuroInternational Dallara-Mercedes +18 laps
It has taken more than two years, but two weekends ago at Monza, things finally came right for Will Stevens.
For a driver with such pedigree, so heavily touted for World Series success, the Monza curtain raiser was Stevens’ first Formula Renault 3.5 victory.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Stevens commented. “It is the best way to begin the championship, as opposed to last year. I have worked a lot on the starts and today it paid off. We now have to work on our single lap pace.”
Driving for Strakka Racing, the 22-year-old has played the game of consistency very well since his entry into the category, although the machinery at his disposal was, at times, less than agreeable.
Podiums and runs points helped Stevens’ secure 4th in the standings, behind champion Kevin Magnussen and rivals Stoffel Vandoorne and Antonio Felix da Costa.
But those names have since departed for pastures anew and now the game is on for Stevens. A leading member of the Caterham driver development programme, this is his third year in FR3.5 – if he is to deliver, it must be now.