Skip to content

“FIA F3: Leclerc wins Silverstone finale, but Giovinazzi heads points”

Leclerc took a win and a podium on his opening weekend. © FIA F3 Media Services.

Leclerc took a win and a podium on his opening weekend. © FIA F3 Media Services.

Charles Leclerc took his maiden FIA European Formula 3 victory at Silverstone this morning, edging points leader Antonio Giovinazzi all the way.

Jake Dennis took the podium with a late race move on Gustavo Menezes, who was suffering from mechanical issues.

Having lost the lead from pole during yesterday’s second race, Leclerc did not make the same mistake again, as he edged Giovinazzi and George Russell out through the opening corner at Abbey.
Thereafter the leading pair dropped Russell, yet while Giovinazzi held Leclerc close, for the most part the Italian could not pressure Leclerc into an error.

Giovinazzi did get close to the front at the half way mark, when Leclerc made an error through Abbey; however the Monegasque teen held his nerve and kept Giovinazzi behind as he challenged down the Wellington straight.

For the remainder, Leclerc maintained a solid gap of approximately one second to Giovinazzi, although this was briefly interrupted when the stranded Fortec Mercedes of Pietro Fittipaldi required removal, necessitating a safety car.
The race went green for the final two laps, but once again Leclerc drew ahead of his Carlin rival to take his first victory of the season. Meanwhile Giovinazzi’s triple-podium result gives the Italian an eight-point lead in the standings over Leclerc.

Dennis assumed 3rd on the final lap, when Menezes began to suffer the beginnings of a fuel pump failure. Until then Menezes had held 3rd quite ably, having passed Russell on the opening lap. It was a startling getaway by the American, who had jumped from the fourth row and into a battle for top positions by the Wellington Straight.
Dennis, too, passed Russell for 4th on the opening tour, but could do little about the impressive American until mechanical woes struck.

Russell’s shaky start dropped him to 5th, but Alexander Albon took that place from at the beginning of the fourth lap. While Albon stretched his legs, Russell settled into 6th, but was offered a golden opportunity when the late safety car closed the field up again.
The Briton took his chance and passed Albon for 5th at the restart and dropped the Signature driver by almost two seconds come the flag.

Markus Pommer assumed 7th for Motopark, while Brandon Maïsano, Callum Ilot and Mikkel Jensen filled out the rest of the top ten. Starting 35th and last, Felix Rosenqvist came home 12th, although an error following the final restart cost him the possibility of points.

There was an early, brief safety car period, following an opening lap spin for Lance Stroll. The Canadian stalled his Prema Powerteam entry, forcing race control to neutralise the race for a time.

Conditions at SIlverstone for much of the weekend were excellent. © FIA F3 Media Services.

Conditions at SIlverstone for much of the weekend were excellent. © FIA F3 Media Services.

2015 FIA European F3 Championship (Rd 1, Race 3, Silverstone)
Pos. Driver                  Team                  Time / Gap
 1.  Charles Leclerc         van Amersfoort-VW        18 laps
 2.  Antonio Giovinazzi      Jagonya Carlin-VW        +0.440s
 3.  Jake Dennis             Prema Powerteam-Merc     +3.255
 4.  Gustavo Menezes         Jagonya Carlin-VW        +4.242
 5.  George Russell          Carlin-VW                +4.626
 6.  Alexander Albon         Signature-VW             +6.345
 7.  Markus Pommer           Motopark-VW              +7.185
 8.  Brandon Maïsano         Prema Powerteam-Merc     +8.447
 9.  Callum Ilot             Carlin-VW                +9.098
10.  Mikkel Jensen           Mücke-Merc               +9.551
11.  Ryan Tveter             Jagonya Carlin-VW       +10.269
12.  Felix Rosenqvist        Prema Powerteam-Merc    +10.984
13.  Santino Ferrucci        Mücke-Merc              +11.622
14.  Alessio Lorandi         van Amersfoort-VW       +12.379
15.  Nabil Jeffri            Motopark-VW             +12.942
16.  Arjun Maini             van Amersfoort-VW       +13.969
17.  Dorian Boccolacci       Signature-VW            +14.485
18.  Nicolas Beer            EuroInternatonal-Merc   +14.820
19.  Michele Beretta         Mücke-Merc              +15.877
20.  Sérgio Sette            Motopark-VW             +16.074
21.  Maximilian Günther      Mücke-Merc              +17.417
22.  Tatiana Calderon        Carlin-VW               +18.216
23.  Hongwei Cao             Fortec-Merc             +19.958
24.  Matt Solomon            Double R-Merc           +20.622
25.  Fabian Schiller         West-Tec-Merc           +21.249
26.  Nicolas Pohler          Double R-Merc           +21.600
27.  Zhi Cong Li             West-Tec-Merc           +22.071
28.  Raoul Hyman             West-Tec-Merc           +22.561
29.  Mahaveer Raghunathan    Motopark-VW             +23.113
30.  Julio Moreno            ThreeBond T-Sport-NBE    +1 lap
     Sam MacLeod             Motopark-VW              +1 lap
     Matthew Rao             West-Tec-Merc            +1 lap
     Kang Ling               Mücke-Merc              +2 laps
     Pietro Fittipaldi       Fortec-Merc             +4 laps
     Lance Stroll            Prema Powerteam-Merc   +17 laps

“FIA F3: Russell takes rookie win at Silverstone”

Russell took his first F3 win at Silverstone today. © FIA F3 Media Services.

Russell took his first F3 win at Silverstone today. © FIA F3 Media Services.

George Russell took his first FIA European Formula 3 championship victory at Silverstone today in what was only his 2nd race.

An aggressive start by the Carlin man opened up a gap into Abbey corner, while pole Charles Leclerc fell to 3rd, as Antonio Giovinazzi slotted into 2nd place.

The trio momentarily banged wheels as they fed from Abbey down toward the Arena bend, but as the opening turns unraveled, Russell led from Leclerc and Giovinazzi – the latter having lost ground in the entry onto the Wellington Straight.

Russell could not pull away immediately – a tangle between Sam Macleod, Sérgio Sette, Tatiana Calderon and Michele Beretta just after the Arena turn brought out the safety car for three laps.
Although the incident itself was not too serious, the nature of tangled carbon fibre rendered the clean up longer than was probably expected.

From the lap four green lap, Russell led again from Leclerc, but the Briton’s gap was pegged from 0.7s-1.3s for much of the running. It was not until the 13th lap that Russell began to stretch his legs – just as Leclerc began to struggle on his ageing Hankook tyres.
Thereafter, Russell managed the lead to Leclerc, taking victory at only the 2nd time of asking.

Giovinazzi could not hold onto the leading pair following the safety car period. The Italian discovered soon after his turn one clash that his Jagonya Ayam Carlin machine was slightly damaged, but not so dented that he lost dramatic amounts of time.
Lance Stroll pressed Giovinazzi for a portion of the race, but could do little to get around the experienced Carlin man as the effects of dirty air began to ripple over the front of his Prema Powerteam Mercedes entry.

Brandon Maïsano assumed 5th ahead of the impressive Alexander Albon (6th), but the real star of the race was Felix Rosenqvist. Having won race one, the Swede was forced to start 35th and last for today’s race and climbed to 7th position by the end of 18 laps, with the Prema Powerteam man spending much of the event passing car after car after car.
His progress halted when he took 7th on from the battling Pietro Fittipaldi and Fabian Schiller on lap 12, but which time Albon was too far ahead to be caught.

Fittipaldi finished the race 8th to grab his first FIA European F3 points. The Brazilian enjoyed a handy six second gap over Mücke Motorsport pairing Santino Ferrucci (9th) and Mikkel Jensen (10th).

2015 FIA European F3 Championship (Rd 1, Race 3, Silverstone)
Pos. Driver                  Team                  Time / Gap
 1.  George Russell          Carlin-VW                18 laps
 2.  Charles Leclerc         van Amersfoort-VW        +1.723s
 3.  Antonio Giovinazzi      Jagonya Carlin-VW        +5.412s
 4.   Lance Stroll            Prema Powerteam-Merc    +6.332
 5.  Brandon Maïsano         Prema Powerteam-Merc    +13.630
 6.  Alexander Albon         Signature-VW            +15.005
 7.  Felix Rosenqvist        Prema Powerteam-Merc    +22.178
 8.  Pietro Fittipaldi       Fortec-Merc             +36.821
 9.  Santino Ferrucci        Mücke-Merc              +42.445
10.  Mikkel Jensen           Mücke-Merc              +43.404
11.  Fabian Schiller         West-Tec-Merc           +44.052
12.  Maximilian Günther      Mücke-Merc              +44.849
13.  Nabil Jeffri            Motopark-VW             +45.599
14.  Arjun Maini             van Amersfoort-VW       +45.928
15.  Ryan Tveter             Jagonya Carlin-VW       +46.420
16.  Alessio Lorandi         van Amersfoort-VW       +46.592
17.  Hongwei Cao             Fortec-Merc             +50.542
18.  Gustavo Menezes         Jagonya Carlin-VW       +50.935
19.  Callum Ilot             Carlin-VW               +52.882
20.  Nicolas Beer            EuroInternatonal-Merc   +55.323
21.  Kang Ling               Mücke-Merc              +56.477
22.  Matthew Rao             West-Tec-Merc         +1:02.028
23.  Julio Moreno            ThreeBond T-Sport-NBE +1:03.680
24.  Nicolas Pohler          Double R-Merc         +1:05.301
25.  Mahaveer Raghunathan    Motopark-VW           +1:12.137
26.  Matt Solomon            Double R-Merc            +1 lap
27.  Raoul Hyman             West-Tec-Merc            +1 lap
28.  Zhi Cong Li             West-Tec-Merc            +1 lap
     Jake Dennis             Prema Powerteam-Merc     +1 lap
     Markus Pommer           Motopark-VW              +1 lap
     Dorian Boccolacci       Signature-VW            +2 laps
     Michele Beretta         Mücke-Merc             +18 laps
     Sérgio Sette            Motopark-VW            +18 laps
     Tatiana Calderon        Carlin-VW              +18 laps
     Sam MacLeod             Motopark-VW            +18 laps

“FIA F3: Rosenqvist wins Silverstone opener”

Rosenqvist wins Race 1 at Silverstone. © FIA F3 Media Services.

Rosenqvist wins Race 1 at Silverstone. © FIA F3 Media Services.

Felix Rosenqvist claimed the opening FIA European F3 win of the season at Silverstone, during a race peppered by safety car interruptions.

The Swede – now in his fifth year at this level – led from the start and despite the constant presence in his mirrors of Carlin rival Antonio Giovinazzi, Rosenqvist could not be pressured into an error.

Starting behind the safety car, due to the changeable weather conditions, gave Rosenqvist the advantage as he drew away from Giovinazzi at the lap three green. “It is difficult when it is like this,” said Rosenqvist. “It was drying every lap and you are trying to prove yourself to the conditions, so you have to be on edge all the time and have to be a bit more brave than you think you have to be.”

The racing would last only a few short moments, George Russell and Charles Leclerc clipped on the approach of Vale, which in turn caused Brandon Maïsano to spin, while just behind Matt Rao and Kang Li had offs.

Such was the spread of cars in the gravel or stuck on still damp kerbs, the safety car was recalled for a further three tours – it was an incident that certainly captured Rosenqvist’s attention. “The place for the safety car line is maybe not the best, because […] there was a crash, so maybe they should have a rethink on that one.”
While there maybe a touch of truth in Rosenqvist’s statement, it would be amiss to mention that almost all who ran off road at that time were effectively Formula 3 rookies.

From the lap six restart, Rosenqvist headed Giovinazzi again and had built a 2.4s lead over the Italian when the race was neutralised after another off, this time for Alessio Lorandi, who had beached his van Amersfoort Volkswagen into the gravel at Woodcote.
Once again Rosenqvist led from Giovinazzi at the restart, but this time the Carlin man stayed closer to the lead, with Rosenqvist not stretching the gap to more than 1.0s.
For the 23-year-old Rosenqvist, everything came together perfectly. “It was quite controlled; I managed to do a great lap with each restart – Antonio was always quick, but was never in the situation where he was close enough. It was about managing the gap and not doing anything stupid.”

Jake Dennis completed the podium in his Racing Steps Foundation-backed Prema Powerteam Mercedes. Dennis enjoyed a brief battle in the early green flag running with Signature’s Alexander Albon, only for Dennis to settle the battle in his favour with a solid pair of post-safety car restarts.

Albon took 4th and was the highest placed rookie. He managed the gap back to Markus Pommer, while Lance Stroll rounded out the top six. Gustavo Menezes made a solid start to assume 7th, although one of the more startling performances came courtesy of Russell, who 18th after his clash with Leclerc.
From there, Russell rose through the order taking 8th at the flag after he passed Maximilian Günther, Callum Ilot, Pietro Fittopaldi, Mikkel Jensen and Nicolas Beer in the final two laps alone.
Günther (9th) and Ilot (10th) rounded out the points scores, while the quick Leclerc could only rise to 12th come the end.

2015 FIA European F3 Championship (Rd 1, Race 3, Silverstone)
Pos. Driver                  Team                  Time / Gap
 1.  Felix Rosenqvist        Prema Powerteam-Merc    +15 laps
 2.  Antonio Giovinazzi      Jagonya Carlin-VW        +0.938s
 3.  Jake Dennis             Prema Powerteam-Merc     +2.681
 4.  Alexander Albon         Signature-VW             +4.767
 5.   Markus Pommer           Motopark-VW             +5.229
 6.  Lance Stroll            Prema Powerteam-Merc     +6.175
 7.  Gustavo Menezes         Jagonya Carlin-VW        +6.934
 8.  George Russell          Carlin-VW                +7.470
 9.  Maximilian Günther      Mücke-Merc               +7.897
10.  Callum Ilot             Carlin-VW                +8.531
11.  Pietro Fittipaldi       Fortec-Merc              +9.886
12.  Charles Leclerc         van Amersfoort-VW       +10.282
13.  Mikkel Jensen           Mücke-Merc              +12.464
14.  Nicolas Beer            EuroInternatonal-Merc   +13.147
15.  Nabil Jeffri            Motopark-VW             +14.060
16.  Fabian Schiller         West-Tec-Merc           +14.915
17.  Sérgio Sette            Motopark-VW             +15.486
18.  Santino Ferrucci        Mücke-Merc              +15.884
19.  Raoul Hyman             West-Tec-Merc           +17.549
20.  Tatiana Calderon        Carlin-VW               +17.939
21.  Dorian Boccolacci       Signature-VW            +18.687
22.  Sam MacLeod             Motopark-VW             +19.510
23.  Hongwei Cao             Fortec-Merc             +20.021
24.  Michele Beretta         Mücke-Merc              +20.304
25.  Matt Solomon            Double R-Merc           +22.949
26.  Mahaveer Raghunathan    Motopark-VW             +28.887
27.  Nicolas Pohler          Double R-Merc           +30.780
28.  Julio Moreno            ThreeBond T-Sport-NBE   +33.168
     Kang Ling               Mücke-Merc              +4 laps
     Zhi Cong Li             West-Tec-Merc           +5 laps
     Alessio Lorandi         van Amersfoort-VW       +7 laps
     Arjun Maini             van Amersfoort-VW       +9 laps
     Ryan Tveter             Jagonya Carlin-VW      +10 laps
     Brandon Maïsano         Prema Powerteam-Merc   +14 laps
     Matthew Rao             West-Tec-Merc          +14 laps

“FIA F3: Leclerc takes double pole as Rosenqvist penalised”

Leclerc inherited two poles. © FIA F3 Media Services.

Leclerc inherited two poles. © FIA F3 Media Services.

FIA European F3 rookie Charles Leclerc assumed pole position for races 2 and 3 of the opening round of the season when the efforts of original top man, Felix Rosenqvist, were thrown out.

Rosenqvist, who had for a brief period, replicated his stellar Q1 efforts, was removed from the results when it was discovered that the dimensions of his Prema Powerteam machine did not conform to the technical regulations.

Instead Leclerc will lead an all-rookie front row for race two, with the van Amersfoort man just heading Carlin racer George Russell, while Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam Carlin) and Alexander Albon (Signature) secured the second row.
The same four men will take up the front two rows for race three, albeit in a slightly different order, as Giovinazzi heads Russell for the weekend closer.

Positions for rows three and four also contain the same four protagonists, with 5th-8th in both events lining up as Brandon Maïsano, Jake Dennis, Lance Stroll and Gustav Menezes.

As with the other sessions so far this weekend, traffic proved an issue, as 35 entries vied for free space on a full track.

Russell makes it an all-rookie row two for race two. © FIA F3 Media Services.

Russell makes it an all-rookie row two for race two. © FIA F3 Media Services.

2015 FIA European F3 Championship (Rd 1, Qualifying 2, Silverstone)
Pos. Driver                  Team                  Time / Gap
 1.  Charles Leclerc         van Amersfoort-VW     1:51.148
 2.  George Russell          Carlin-VW             1:51.448
 3.  Antonio Giovinazzi      Jagonya Carlin-VW     1:51.458
 4.  Alexander Albon         Signature-VW          1:51.550
 5.  Brandon Maïsano         Prema Powerteam-Merc  1:51.755
 6.  Jake Dennis             Prema Powerteam-Merc  1:51.781
 7.  Lance Stroll            Prema Powerteam-Merc  1:51.808
 8.  Gustavo Menezes         Jagonya Carlin-VW     1:51.982
 9.  Ryan Tveter             Jagonya Carlin-VW     1:52.042
10.  Callum Ilot             Carlin-VW             1:52.061
11.  Mikkel Jensen           Mücke-Merc            1:52.165
12.  Markus Pommer           Motopark-VW           1:52.189
13.  Fabian Schiller         West-Tec-Merc         1:52.317
14.  Dorian Boccolacci       Signature-VW          1:52.347
15.  Pietro Fittipaldi       Fortec-Merc           1:52.367
16.  Maximilian Günther      Mücke-Merc            1:52.376
17.  Arjun Maini             van Amersfoort-VW     1:52.402
18.  Santino Ferrucci        Mücke-Merc            1:52.411
19.  Michele Beretta         Mücke-Merc            1:52.474
20.  Nicolas Beer            EuroInternatonal-Merc 1:52.506
21.  Alessio Lorandi         van Amersfoort-VW     1:52.506
22.  Nabil Jeffri            Motopark-VW           1:52.564
23.  Tatiana Calderon        Carlin-VW             1:52.677
24.  Julio Moreno            ThreeBond T-Sport-NBE 1:52.755
25.  Raoul Hyman             West-Tec-Merc         1:52.769
26.  Sérgio Sette            Motopark-VW           1:52.904
27.  Matt Solomon            Double R-Merc         1:52.909
28.  Matthew Rao             West-Tec-Merc         1:53.332
29.  Kang Ling               Mücke-Merc            1:53.354
30.  Hongwei Cao             Fortec-Merc           1:53.409
31.  Sam MacLeod             Motopark-VW           1:53.460
32.  Mahaveer Raghunathan    Motopark-VW           1:53.468
33.  Zhi Cong Li             West-Tec-Merc         1:53.488
34.  Nicolas Pohler          Double R-Merc         1:53.954
     Felix Rosenqvist        Prema Powerteam-Merc  {no time}

2015 FIA European F3 Championship (Rd 1, Qualifying 3, Silverstone)
Pos. Driver                  Team                  Time / Gap
 1.  Charles Leclerc         van Amersfoort-VW     1:51.489
 2.  Antonio Giovinazzi      Jagonya Carlin-VW     1:51.537
 3.  George Russell          Carlin-VW             1:51.543
 4.  Alexander Albon         Signature-VW          1:51.688
 5.  Brandon Maïsano         Prema Powerteam-Merc  1:51.877
 6.  Jake Dennis             Prema Powerteam-Merc  1:51.934
 7.  Lance Stroll            Prema Powerteam-Merc  1:51.953
 8.  Gustavo Menezes         Jagonya Carlin-VW     1:52.006
 9.  Callum Ilot             Carlin-VW             1:52.081
10.  Markus Pommer           Motopark-VW           1:52.212
11.  Mikkel Jensen           Mücke-Merc            1:52.389
12.  Dorian Boccolacci       Signature-VW          1:52.410
13.  Ryan Tveter             Jagonya Carlin-VW     1:52.505
14.  Alessio Lorandi         van Amersfoort-VW     1:52.549
15.  Pietro Fittipaldi       Fortec-Merc           1:52.603
16.  Nabil Jeffri            Motopark-VW           1:52.604
17.  Nicolas Beer            EuroInternatonal-Merc 1:52.625
18.  Santino Ferrucci        Mücke-Merc            1:52.645
19.  Arjun Maini             van Amersfoort-VW     1:52.669
20.  Maximilian Günther      Mücke-Merc            1:52.716
21.  Tatiana Calderon        Carlin-VW             1:52.744
22.  Michele Beretta         Mücke-Merc            1:52.853
23.  Fabian Schiller         West-Tec-Merc         1:52.854
24.  Julio Moreno            ThreeBond T-Sport-NBE 1:52.869
25.  Raoul Hyman             West-Tec-Merc         1:52.884
26.  Matt Solomon            Double R-Merc         1:52.944
27.  Sérgio Sette            Motopark-VW           1:53.005
28.  Matthew Rao             West-Tec-Merc         1:53.396
29.  Kang Ling               Mücke-Merc            1:53.471
30.  Hongwei Cao             Fortec-Merc           1:53.477
31.  Zhi Cong Li             West-Tec-Merc         1:53.520
32.  Mahaveer Raghunathan    Motopark-VW           1:53.542
33.  Sam MacLeod             Motopark-VW           1:53.562
34.  Nicolas Pohler          Double R-Merc         1:53.973
     Felix Rosenqvist        Prema Powerteam-Merc  {no time}

“FIA F3: Rosenqvist takes first pole of the season”

Rosenqvist took pole for Silverstone race 1. © FIA F3 Media Services.

Rosenqvist took pole for Silverstone race 1. © FIA F3 Media Services.

Felix Rosenqvist took the first FIA European F3 pole of the season during today’s qualifying session at Silverstone.

Following a bright and warm morning, the clouds descended over the Northamptonshire circuit, with even brief sprinkles of rain making their appearance known before the green flag.

It mattered little to the experienced Swede, who took the top spot by over one-quarter-of-a-second from Jagonya Ayam Carlin racer Antonio Giovinazzi.

Following a pair of morning sessions where Rosenqvist proved quick – but not quickest – the 23-year-old found space amongst the crowded Silverstone circuit to go quickest on the third of his seven laps.
Indeed, a majority of the fastest times came midway through runs, as the Hankook tyres peaked, before giving up premium grip.

Behind Giovinazzi, Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam) and series debutante George Russell (Carlin) secured the second row, followed by Charles Leclerc (van Amersfoort) and free practice fast man Brandon Maïsano (Prema Powerteam).

If the midfield is as close in the race as it was in qualifying, we may be in for a stellar battle, as the gap from 11th (Maximilian Günther) to 23rd (Mikkel Jensen) was a mere quarter-of-a-second.

With a 35-car grid for tomorrows season opener, those who manage traffic the best could be the big winners.

2015 FIA European F3 (Rd 1, Qualifying 1)
Pos  Driver                  Team                  Time
 1.  Felix Rosenqvist        Prema Powerteam-Merc  1:51.007
 2.  Antonio Giovinazzi      Jagonya Carlin-VW     1:51.274
 3.  Jake Dennis             Prema Powerteam-Merc  1:51.332
 4.  George Russell          Carlin-VW             1:51.652
 5.  Charles Leclerc         van Amersfoort-VW     1:51.685
 6.  Brandon Maïsano         Prema Powerteam-Merc  1:51.768
 7.  Alexander Albon         Signature-VW          1:51.792
 8.  Lance Stroll            Prema Powerteam-Merc  1:52.066
 9.  Markus Pommer           Motopark-VW           1:52.113
10.  Callum Ilot             Carlin-VW             1:52.113
11.  Maximilian Günther      Mücke-Merc            1:52.294
12.  Ryan Tveter             Jagonya Carlin-VW     1:52.309
13.  Gustavo Menezes         Jagonya Carlin-VW     1:52.324
14.  Nicolas Beer            EuroInternatonal-Merc 1:52.352
15.  Nabil Jeffri            Motopark-VW           1:52.374
16.  Arjun Maini             van Amersfoort-VW     1:52.426
17.  Pietro Fittipaldi       Fortec-Merc           1:52.443
18.  Sérgio Sette            Motopark-VW           1:52.446
19.  Fabian Schiller         West-Tec-Merc         1:52.486
20.  Dorian Boccolacci       Signature-VW          1:52.490
21.  Alessio Lorandi         van Amersfoort-VW     1:52.496
22.  Raoul Hyman             West-Tec-Merc         1:52.543
23.  Mikkel Jensen           Mücke-Merc            1:52.543
24.  Tatiana Calderon        Carlin-VW             1:52.798
25.  Santino Ferrucci        Mücke-Merc            1:52.849
26.  Sam MacLeod             Motopark-VW           1:52.879
27.  Hongwei Cao             Fortec-Merc           1:52.901
28.  Julio Moreno            ThreeBond T-Sport-NBE 1:52.938
29.  Matt Solomon            Double R-Merc         1:53.039
30.  Michele Beretta         Mücke-Merc            1:53.073
31.  Kang Ling               Mücke-Merc            1:53.198
32.  Matthew Rao             West-Tec-Merc         1:53.251
33.  Zhi Cong Li             West-Tec-Merc         1:53.305
34.  Nicolas Pohler          Double R-Merc         1:53.705
35.  Mahaveer Raghunathan    Motopark-VW           1:53.874

“FIA F3: Prema Powerteam head opening practices at Silverstone”

Maïsano was quickest in practice at Silverstone. © FIA F3 Media.

Maïsano was quickest in practice at Silverstone. © FIA F3 Media.

Brandon Maïsano and Lance Stroll topped the opening FIA European Formula 3 practice sessions of the season at Silverstone.

The Prema Powerteam dup made the best of the traffic in the warm and sunny conditions Maïsano to find time, with Maïsano setting the quickest lap of all with a best of 1:51.677s – ending the second session just 0.066s ahead of teammate and F3 veteran Felix Rosenqvist.

Stroll’s FP1 effort – a 1:52.123 – gave him a narrow margin over Carlin rookie George Russell, with the Briton following that up with 3rd in FP2.

In a packed field of 35 entries, only two-and-a-half seconds covered top-to-bottom. If this is replicated in qualifying and the races, the European Championship will be in for a stellar year.

Times to follow.

“WEC: Turner – We need to maximise Le Mans”

Darren Turner (left) continues into 2015 with his term Aston teammate Stefan Mücke. © Richard Washbrooke.

Darren Turner (left) continues into 2015 with his term Aston teammate Stefan Mücke. © Richard Washbrooke.

ON the eve of the beginning of the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship, Aston Martin stalwart Darren Turner is keen to turn defeat at the hands of AF Corse Ferrari’s into victory – and where better to start than on home ground.

Speaking to at the Royal Automobile Club in London prior to the season opener in Silverstone, Turner spoke of his ambitions for the year ahead.

“The main thing is to be pushing from the very beginning and to try and maximise our points at Le Mans,” Darren Turner states matter-of-factly. “Once we’ve done that, then we can really work out the best strategy for the second half of the season. That’s the plan, but it’s probably similar to every other car on the grid really.”

The sprightly Turner is one of those few drivers’ in motorsport who happens to be in possession of an easily recognisable and seemingly permanent feature.

A veteran of DTM and the British Touring Car Championship, the two-time class winner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans is most famous for his exploits in GT racing at the wheel.

Yet there are probably almost as many photographs of the Surrey native’s near permanent stubble than there are of him behind the wheel of his precious #97 Aston Martin Vantage machine.

This year, Turner comes to the FIA World Endurance Championship with a clear target. Despite taking two race victories last season, Turner and teammate Stefan Mücke finished a disappointing 5th in the World Endurance Cup for GT Drivers.

With the 2015 season beginning at Silverstone this weekend, the Briton is certainly fired up and waiting for the challenge; however given its double-points status in the WEC, Turner believes the 24-hour French classic still holds the key to a successful season.
Indeed it was a difficult Le Mans race in 2014 that helped to scupper Turner and Mücke’s season and was yet another reminder that even though twenty-four hours is a long time, the GT battle is probably at the closest it has ever been.
“We had a fairly small reliability issue at that race which was fixed quickly on the pitstop,” explains the 40-year-old. “The way the GTE battle is and how close it is, even if you lose a minute or two minutes, it probably marks you out of the game and we lost ten minutes getting it fixed. That took us out of the equation and took us out of scoring some big points. You are always then on the backfoot for the second half of the season.”

The disappointment of the failure at Le Mans merely compounded the feeling of what could have ben come the season finale at Bahrain last year. “We had a good car for the whole season. Le Mans is the big turning point in anyone’s part of the championship, because of the double points. We had race win and the car showed its potential for being on pole, but we weren’t able to claw back the deficit that we lost in that first part of the season.”

None of that has changed of course. The Aston is still a very potent entry – as are their rivals – but with each new season comes a reset, as the field starts afresh at Silverstone this weekend.

Turner and Mücke took two wins for Aston Martin in 2014 - this one came at the finale in Interglagos. © John Rourke.

Turner and Mücke took two wins for Aston Martin in 2014 – this one came at the finale in Interglagos. © John Rourke.

The six-hour opener brings its own issues though – and not just the occasionally erratic April weather. According to Turner, driving for a manufacturer team and company situated mere minutes from the Northamptonshire circuit brings its own pressures, but not all are bad.
“We have got slightly more added pressure because [Silverstone] is our “home race”; it is very much a home race for Aston Martin Racing, because it is only down the road, so we have a lot of local support as well and that’s all at the first round of the championship,” said Turner.

At this stage in his career, Turner has raced at Silverstone almost too many times to remember; yet he feels at this level all that track time has ceased to be an advantage, as he explains. “The ‘home’ circuit knowledge doesn’t really mean anything at this level anymore. When you are young and you are first starting out, you know the British circuits really well, but then you do your first international circuit and you are at a bit of deficit to the local boys.”

Nowadays, experience does not just come on track anymore, as Turner – who heads up one of the UK’s leading simulator programmes, Base Performance Simulators – is well aware. “As you get more and more experienced over the years, and you race on more and more circuits – I’m as experienced at Le Mans as I am at Silverstone for instance – the extra knowledge I have is irrelevant to the other drivers. We’re all at a level where most of us know these circuits inside out.
“There is added pressure, but it is all positive pressure. We just need to get a good result – that’s the key to it and a good result would be a podium position and a great result would be a win.”

If anything, he is more than well aware of how competitive the battle for GTE honours can be and while he has experienced more than a few close battles in time, Turner believes there to be a healthy respect across the field. “There’s a good level of racing respect out there; you push and be aggressive, but it’s aggressive against the stopwatch as much as much as it is against the wheel-to-wheel,” notes Turner, keen to shut down any signs of complacency.

Even though the racing is close, Turner is aware that getting too close and receiving damage can only damage efforts. “It gets close and you trade paint, but it’s not like touring cars or anything like that where it is the norm, because we know the only way that the car are going to finish is if we keep them in one piece.
“Even if you lose a winglet, you’re losing lap time. You just can’t afford to do that. Endurance racing is all about keeping the car in one piece over long distance of time…” Indeed, it is an integral lesson of endurance racing that many drivers have had to learn the hard way over the years.

Before closing, Turner has one final thought about the year ahead in the GTE Pro category. “The racing is close and that’s the way it should be. It’s fun for the drivers, fun for the spectators – and probably not that much fun for the teams, but that’s part of racing.”

Turner doesn’t seem like a driver who is going to stop any time soon. Hungry for his third Le Mans class victory, the Briton still looks like a driver who is having plenty of fun.
The 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship opens at Silverstone this weekend.

The #97 Turner/Mücke Aston Martin was one of a number of cars on display in London last week. © Jeff Carter.

The #97 Turner/Mücke Aston Martin was one of a number of cars on display in London last week. © Jeff Carter.

“Thoughts on Grid Girls and motorsport”

When it was revealed on Thursday that the FIA World Endurance Championship had decided not to taken on the option of using of grid girls during their events, the reaction from a sizeable corner of the motorsport community was sad, but not surprising.

The usual wails of “leftism”, “political correctness gone mad” (etc.) were alive, well and proving vocal. Claims that “it’s all a bit of fun”, “no one is forcing the girls to do it” and the more aggressive stance of “sex sells” also rang in the air.

And it all misses the point.

In one sense, some of the critics are right – no one is forcing models to be grid girls and most appear to be happy at that – but these are also the times that one may need to think less of the individual and more of motorsport’s place in wider society.

At a time when the sport could be celebrating female successes and achievements – by competitors such as Michèle Mouton, Janet Guthrie, Leena Gade, Danica Patrick, Shirley Muldowney, Desiré Wilson Lella Lombardi, to name a few – it actively goes out of its way to reduce them to eye candy, propping up boards in front of a car while a man gets prepares to drive.

Last week, Formula One commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone spoke in a patronising manner about creating a ladies F1 championship in order to bring more women into the sport, but only if plays support to the men’s event.
In times such as these, it is worth remembering not just how much impressions can influence, but also how damaging poor impressions they can be.

A ladies championship, that only serves to play second fiddle to the main show, is not the solution – making the option of jumping from karts to entry-level motor racing a more inviting one would certainly help. In this regard, motorsport is struggling.

At the top level, many years of neglect and pointless posturing, squabbling and endless arguing in the international arena only serves to reflect a form of entertainment that is dying on its feet.
Since full live coverage of Formula One in the UK moved to Sky in 2012, viewing figures have remained have decreased with the pay-per-view station on average attracting approximately one-sixth of the viewers that the BBC were able to pull when it previously held exclusive coverage.

Outside of F1, rallying is struggling with viewing figures in the thousands and the reach of endurance racing – such as the WEC – continues to be minor. In the US, eyeballs for the NASCAR Sprint Cup have decreased noticeably in the past decade and IndyCar barely registers as a blip. Even V8 Supercars has endured some difficult years, as other attractions prove more absorbing.
Realistically ours is a sport that is struggling, yet collectively we tend to put our fingers in our ears and sing “la-la-la-la” in the hope that falling audiences – both on site and in broadcast – become miraculously reversed somehow.

While the removal of grid girls may seem like a small move, it does – if nothing else – reflect a changing attitude at the top of at least one championship under the FIA’s banner. Motorsport has spent too many years parading itself as an exclusive club tailored to an extremely narrow demographic, at a time when it desperately needs to broaden its horizons and show that it is a welcome environment for all.

Motorsport’s audience is generally ageing men and with the continued use of grid girls, it goes out of its way to parade women as objects, rather that actually invite them into the heart of the sport.
Amidst an encouraging number of more enlightened views, one commenter on Radio Le Mans’ enthusiastic Midweek Motorsport Collective noted on Friday that the “lovely ladies” are “scenery enhancements.”

Well I’m calling bullshit to that mindset.

Yet the attitude to “scenery enhancements” feeds into this old age notion that ‘sex sells’ and while it is true to a degree, one needs to measure just how real that statement is. Any product (and let’s take motorsport as a product) that feels the need to utilise sex status in order to sell itself should ask itself the following questions:

Who are they selling to?;
Why does one need sex to sell it?;
And more importantly, what exactly is sex helping it sell?

None of this should be rocket science, although it may make an interesting study. Sex, like everything else, sells to the demographic at which it is aimed and in this instance motorsport categories get it badly wrong.
On a personal note, one can’t help but feel that if your product needs “glamour” and “sex” to sell, then potentially:

There may be something wrong with your product;
You have little confidence in your product using its merits to sell in its own right;
Or maybe you just don’t know how to sell it in the first place.

The reality is those things matter little when the sport as a whole is so haphazardly managed, promoted, marketed and sold. While also holding on to its outdated traditions that probably should have gone the way of the boyband Bros a couple of decades ago, motorsport has also done a poor job of attracting new fans.

To the desperate, the sport still holds on to the notion that fillers – such as mandatory pitstops, DRS, “jelly” tyres, unnecessary driver changes, reverse road orders, reverse grids (and so on…) – are what the audience wants. This is entertainment, yes, but sometime motorsport feels like a television show has added a new character in order to try to garner lost attention.

When examining the bigger picture, perhaps it is refreshing to see a championship take a stance that looks beyond its own navel and goes some way to addressing one of the image problems that is fast killing this sport. With luck, maybe more will follow. considers the practice of grid girls to be a tacky, outdated practice and one that should have been dumped years ago and if that upsets people, well that’s just too bad.

“Auto GP cancel opening round, add team”

© Auto GP Organization S.r.l

© Auto GP Organization S.r.l

The Auto GP Series this week cancelled its championship opener at Marrakech, citing a “difficult political situation” in Northern African region.

Despite this the FIA World Touring Car Championship races, which headline the Marrakech weekend, are still going ahead, as are the WTCC’s other support categories.

The new Auto GP opening round is set to take place at the Hungaroring, just outside Budapest over the opening weekend in May.

Auto GP has been struggling for entrants in recent seasons, and swallowed up the failed Formula Acceleration 1 category at the end of last year, but with the Morocco round less than the two weeks away, the series had only signed up ten competitors {note 1}.

Meanwhile series boss Enzo Coloni was keen to press home his reasons for the cancellation. “We were forced to opt out of the round scheduled for the 19th of April in Morocco,” said Coloni. “We did everything we possibly could to line-up at Marrakech but, in an effort to protect our teams and drivers, we decided to postpone the beginning of the season to Budapest.”
Coloni added, “In the years spent in Morocco we always felt at home and we will definitely miss the warmth of the crowds there. We hope to be back next year”.

While all that was developing, Coloni’s son Paolo announced the debut of Paolo Coloni Racing, which the team hope will eventually field three cars.

{note 1}
Last year’s Auto GP Series ended with only ten drivers at the final round at Estoril, while the Formula Acceleration 1 championship only managed five of its originally planned nine.

“F1: Lotus rue Malaysian struggles”

Grosjean led the Lotus charge in Malaysia. © Lotus F1 Team.

Grosjean led the Lotus charge in Malaysia. © Lotus F1 Team.

In what should be a period of improvement and consolidation for the Lotus Formula One team, the Enfield leave the Malaysian Grand Prix toward the rear of the Constructors’ table, with only the limp Manor behind them.


“Today was about unfulfilled potential. Both Pastor and Romain could have scored strongly but events out of their hands meant they did not.”

Depends on the viewpoint to a degree. This was not a day of celebration for Federico Gastaldi, Team Principal of the Lotus F1 squad. Despite a second Grand Prix with the (almost) all-conquering Mercedes engine and power unit, Lotus have still yet to score a single point in the 2015 season.

After a nothing race in Melbourne that was over for them in less than four laps, Pastor Maldonado called it a day with mechanical issues after 47 of the 56 laps, while Romain Grosjean took a scoreless 11th, after receiving a hefty punt from the Force India Sergio Perez on the 30th lap.
As noted by Gastaldi, “That’s motor racing sometimes…”

Yet even after the move from Renault-to-Mercedes power this year, there is still much to do at Enstone. Grosjean was able to maintain a solid pace and held top five position in the opening stint once the safety car had departed, but realistically more speed is needed.
Grosjean lost a lot of time during his opening stint behind a struggling Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) and where the quick guys were pitching in numerous laps in the 1‘46s-early 1’47s range, Grosjean could not get out of the mid-to-late 1’48s bracket. “We had quite a good race with a strong first lap and some nice overtaking,” said Grosjean after the race, before adding, “I lost a lot of time behind Hulkenberg and then the spin with Perez in such a fast corner.”

The first stint may have also revealed a tactical naivety within the team. Although an earlier pitstop could have dropped Grosjean toward the rear of the pack, it may have at least given him a portion of free air between the Felipe Nasr (Sauber) and Maldonado. Behind Hulkenberg, Grosjean was only slow.
The Frenchman stopped for a new set of medium compound Pirelli tyres after fifteen tours and spent much of the next forty laps registering laps in the 1’45s-1’46s region, but by then the pace of his competitors had also stepped up a notch.

When the race did eventually finish, the final points paying place – Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) – was nearly twenty seconds up the road. “I had some fun overtaking with Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Force India, which was great, and we had a good strategy but we lost too much time to benefit from it. I also had an issue with my drinks bottle which added to the fun…”

On the other side of the garage, Maldonado’s difficult start to the year continued. After receiving a thump on the opening lap from Valtteri Bottas (Williams) that punctured his right rear tyre, mechanical woes ended the Venezuelan’s run.
Maldonado, however, was keen to look to the positives of the weekend. “The potential is clearly there, especially in the race where the car pace is very competitive and we can score good points.”

The luckless Maldonado continued: “There was an incident on the first lap which lost me a lot of time and compromised the race from then on. Despite dropping to the very back to the field, we switched to a different strategy and we recovered well.
“Unfortunately, we suffered from a brake issue, which isn’t great but it’s effectively our first race and we need to keep working through issues, ready for the next Grand Prix.”
Maldonado asserted himself further. “As soon as we have a clean race, we will be fighting for good points.”

They may be fighting for points in China at the next Grand Prix, but in their current situation, it may only be for the scraps as Mercedes, Ferrari, Williams and Red Bull continue to head the home.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,941 other followers

%d bloggers like this: