Raffaele Marciello scored his sixth FIA European Formula 3 victory of the season in comfortable style at Brands Hatch this afternoon.
Marciello’s Prema Powerteam teammate, Alex Lynn, came home 2.8 seconds adrift in 2nd spot, with Lucas Auer making it a Prema 1-2-3 finish, a further 3.2 seconds off of Lynn.
Starting on the outside of the front row, the Italian jumped poleman Lynn off the line, leading the rest of the way with little trouble. “Like this morning, if you are first, it is a big advantage, so it is very important to start [well] and I got a good start and overtook Alex. Then it was easy, because if you are in front, you can manage the lap times.”
Marciello built a lead of nearly five seconds, when he began to encounter backmarkers, but kept his through the rest of race, ensuring Lynn could not get a look in. The Italian spent a few tours trapped behind Roy Nissany, but as the laps ticked down, Marciello managed the pace, leading his Prema Powerteam compatriot over the line. “My biggest problem was Nissany. For six laps, he stayed in my way, but it is very difficult for the driver – six laps was too much,” commented the race winner.
For Lynn, once he was passed at the start, there was little for him to do. “Raffaele is always very good at his starts and mine wasn’t good enough, so I didn’t deserve to win the race today. I’m disappointed to not win the race, but I get another chance tomorrow, so we will take it as it comes.” The 19-year-old added, “To be honest, [the start] happened so quickly, we will need to have a look at the data to see what [Marciello] is doing better than me at the start and try to improve. The balance wasn’t to my liking, but I got quite reasonably close to him when he got stuck behind Nissany.”
Beyond the leaders, there was precious little movement in the field – mostly due to Brands Hatch’s tight and twisty nature.
Following Lynn, Auer headed Sven Muller (4th) home, although Muller did his best to press his Austrian rival. “At the beginning, I was quite close to Alex, but toward the end I got big pressure from the back, but in the end I managed 3rd place and good points.”
In the distance, Felix Rosenqvist (5th) and Tom Blomqvist (6th) playing out their respective battle. Harry Tincknell guided Josh Hill to 7th and 8th, while Will Buller (9th) and Jann Mardenborough (10th) rounded out the top ten. The only action came from Nicholas Latifi who damaged his front wing on the rear of Daniil Kvyat on the opening lap.
2013 FIA European F3 Championship (Rd 4, Race 2; 50 laps) Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Raffaelle Marciello Prema Dallara-Merc 35m8.698s 2. Alex Lynn Prema Dallara-Merc + 2.816s 3. Lucas Auer Prema Dallara-Merc + 6.109s 4. Sven Muller Ma-con Dallara-VW + 6.354s 5. Felix Rosenqvist Mucke Dallara-Merc + 13.332s 6. Tom Blomqvist Eurointernational Dallara-VW + 13.668s 7. Harry Tincknell Carlin Dallara-VW + 15.762s 8. Josh Hill Fortec Dallara-Merc + 16.220s 9. Will Buller T-Sport Dallara-Nissan + 19.356s 10. Jann Mardenborough Carlin Dallara-VW + 21.719s 11. Eddie Cheever Prema Dallara-Merc + 22.949s 12. Daniil Kvyat Carlin Dallara-VW + 26.728s 13. Jordan King Carlin Dallara-VW + 27.617s 14. Lucas Wolf URD Dallara-VW + 30.114s 15. Felix Serralles Fortec Dallara-Merc + 35.096s 16. Antonio Giovinazzi Double R Dallara-Merc + 35.924s 17. Dennis van de Laar Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW + 37.315s 18. Pipo Derani Fortec Dallara-Merc + 1 lap 19. Mitchell Gilbert Mucke Dallara-Merc + 1 lap 20. Andre Rudersdorf Ma-con Dallara-VW + 1 lap 21. Spike Goddard T-Sport Dallara-Nissan + 1 lap 22. Sean Gelael Double R Dallara-Merc + 1 lap 23. Roy Nissany Mucke Dallara-Merc + 1 lap 24. Sandro Zeller Zeller Dallara-Merc + 2 laps 25. Tatiana Calderon Double R Dallara-Merc + 2 laps 26. Michela Cerruti Ferraris Dallara-Merc + 2 laps 27. Nicholas Latifi Carlin Dallara-VW + 3 laps
2013 FIA European F3 Championship points standings Pos Driver Points 1. Raffaele Marciello 214.5 2. Felix Rosenqvist 122 3. Alex Lynn 119.5 4. Lucas Auer 105 5. Harry Tincknell 89 7. Tom Blomqvist 78.5 6. Felix Serralles 76 8. Pascal Wehrlein 49 9. Josh Hill 44 10. Will Buller 39 Pos Team Points 1. Prema Powerteam 346 2. Mucke Motorsport 191 3. Carlin 157 4. Fortec 125 5. EuroInternational 92
Mans Grenhagen has been suspended from today’s second FIA European Formula 3 race following several infractions this season.
The van Amersfoort driver overtook under yellows in race one and although he was given a drive through, the stewards also felt Grenhagen had “several other infringements since the beginning of the […] season.”
With much talk recently regarding the leniency of stewarding in a number of categories, it is relieving to see a steward’s panel who are prepared to sit a driver out in the right circumstances.
GP3 Series regular is set to make his Formula Renault 3.5 début on the streets of Monte Carlo next week.
Sainz Jr – who drives for MW Arden in GP3 – has secured a one-off drive with the Zeta Corse Team in the Spanish squad’s second seat.
The Red Bull junior driver will be the third driver to occupy the drive alongside the team’s regular pilot Mihai Marinescu, with Emmanuel Piget and Mathéo Tuscher having already taken part in a round each.
Although this will be Sainz Jr’s first visit to Monaco, the Spaniard has raced on streets circuit before. Having competed previously at Pau and Macau during his single season in British Formula 3 in 2012.
For Sainz, this will be an interesting test of his skill and stamina. “This is an opportunity not to be missed, it won’t be an easy challenge because it will be the fist time I discover the Monaco Circuit and I hope to learn as quickly as possible, trying, as always, to get the best result. Being my first time in the circuit and in this category, my objectives must be clear, to complete as many laps as possible and to learn,” noted the Red Bull Junior Driver.
He added, “To run in this circuit is going to be something very special, I’m looking forward to Thursday and to starting the laps. I also want to thank the team Zeta Corse for the trust they have placed in me.”
There is no doubt Sainz Jr’s speed – he certainly can peddle – but this certainly be an intriguing battle for the teenager with what is, admittedly, a back of the grid team. Sainz Jr tested a FR3.5 car last winter with Carlin.
Alex Lynn scored a lights-to-flag victory at Brands Hatch this morning, although it was no easy task for the Englishman.
Lucas Auer made it a Prema 1-2-3 as he took his Dallara F312 home to 3rd place.
The poleman Lynn kept ahead of front row rival Marciello off the line, dodging the Italian’s advances through Paddock Hill Bend and Graham Hill hairpin, pulling out a narrow lead, before being pulled back by the 2nd placed man.
Indeed, the lead was never more than one second throughout the 51-lap event, with Marciello keep tabs on the leader in through the opening 22 tours. The race became somewhat more complicated for Lynn thereafter, when lapped traffic began to come into play.
Most of the tail end runners played kindly as the leaders came through, except for T-Sport man Spike Goddard, who from lap 40-42 seemed determined to sit in front of the quick men.
It was moments that proved a touch stressful for Lynn. “There were two or three laps that I was behind [Goddard]. It frustrating now when I think about it and at the time, I was even more frustrated but I take it when it comes and luckily we are on a circuit where it is quite easy to defend. My engineer was saying ‘stay calm, stay calm’ and I was saying ‘I am calm, but I lose this win I’m going to be really miffed’, but it was fine.”
With Goddard eventually dispatched, Lynn and Marciello charged towards the flag, with the 19-year-old Essex man taking the chequered flag, a mere 0.6s ahead of his Prema Powerteam teammate. “I made a good start and managed to get into turn one in the lead and for the first few laps, I was trying to get a gap to Marciello, because I knew we would be catching traffic. Unfortunately every time I started to pull a bit of a gap, we caught some cars, so he caught up a bit, but I was quite happy and I think I controlled the race quite well.”
The victor added, “He got too close for my liking (on lap 43), but he put his front wing on the outside and it’s a little difficult to try and pass someone in turn one, so I just focussed on keeping my mind and after that just concentrate on taking the cars we were lapping.”
Auer took 3rd, despite a poor start. The Austrian had started 3rd, but was 5th by the opening bend after slight contact with Sven Muller, allowing Felix Rosenqvist blend through as well. According to Auer, “My start was not the best after a little touch with Sven Muller. I was 5th and Rosenqvist made a mistake, so I overtook him and toward the end of the race I was quite strong.”
That became 4th thanks to a lap 30 move on Rosenqvist following a mistake by the Swedish racer in Surtees. The Prema man was then promoted further when a technical fault ended Muller’s race four tours later. Continuing, Auer commented that, “I tried to attack [Muller] in the last turn, didn’t manage and then in the first corner he suddenly went slow, I overtook him and finished the race in p3. For this afternoon and tomorrow, I have to concentrate on the start.”
With Muller gone, Rosenqvist held 4th to the flag, with Carlin’s Harry Tincknell in a relatively distant 5th. Tincknell led a group over the line, with Tom Blomqvist (6th) not far behind. Jordan King made 7th his own thanks to a lap 35 pass on Josh Hill (8th), with Will Buller (9th) and Daniil Kvyat (10th) rounding out the top ten.
As Kvyat is non-points scoring driver, Antonio Giovinazzi picks up the final score with his 11th place finish.
It was a tricky day for Fortec’s Felix Serralles. An off on lap four dropped the Puerto Rican from 12th to 15th, before a tangle with Mans Grenhagen on lap 20, pitching Serralles to the edge of the top twenty. Several retirements would see the Fortec rise to 16th, but no further.
2013 FIA European F3 Championship (Rd 4, Race 1; 51 laps) Pos Driver Team/Car Time / Gap 1. Alex Lynn Prema Dallara-Merc 35:41.189s 2. Raffaele Marciello Prema Dallara-Merc +0.680 3. Lucas Auer Prema Dallara-Merc +7.728 4. Felix Rosenqvist Mucke Dallara-Merc +8.843 5. Harry Tincknell Carlin Dallara-VW +21.824 6. Tom Blomqvist Eurointernational Dallara-Merc +21.895 7. Jordan King Carlin Dallara-VW +22.481 8. Josh Hill Fortec Dallara-Merc +22.903 9. Will Buller T-Sport Dallara-Nissan +25.647 10. Daniil Kvyat Carlin Dallara-VW +31.958 11. Antonio Giovinazzi Double R Dallara-Merc +32.703 12. Lucas Wolf URD Dallara-Merc +41.243 13. Jann Mardenborough Carlin Dallara-VW +1 lap 14. Pipo Derani Fortec Dallara-Merc +1 lap 15. Spike Goddard T-Sport Dallara-Nissan +1 lap 16. Felix Serralles Fortec Dallara-Merc +1 lap 17. Eddie Cheever Prema Dallara-Merc +1 lap 18. Roy Nissany Mucke Dallara-Merc +1 lap 19. Sandro Zeller Zeller Dallara-Merc +1 lap 20. Mitchell Gilbert Mucke Dallara-Merc +1 lap 21. Andre Rudersdorf Ma-con Dallara-VW +1 lap 22. Tatiana Calderon Double R Dallara-Merc +1 lap 23. Sean Gelael Double R Dallara-Merc +1 lap 24. Mans Grenhagen Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW +1 lap 25. Michela Cerruti Romeo Ferraris Dallara-Merc +1 lap Retirements: Sven Muller Ma-con Dallara-VW +12 laps Nicholas Latifi Carlin Dallara-VW +16 laps Dennis van de Laar Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW +16 laps Did Not Start: Michael Lewis Mucke Dallara-Merc DNS
2013 FIA European F3 Championship points standings Pos Driver Points 1. Raffaele Marciello 189.5 2. Felix Rosenqvist 112 3. Alex Lynn 101.5 4. Lucas Auer 90 5. Harry Tincknell 83 6. Felix Serralles 76 7. Tom Blomqvist 70.5 8. Pascal Wehrlein 49 9. Josh Hill 40 10. Will Buller 37 Pos Team Points 1. Prema Powerteam 303 2. Mucke Motorsport 179 3. Carlin 147 4. Fortec 119 5. EuroInternational 82
Mücke Motorsport racer Michael Lewis has been discharged from a London hospital following a sizeable accident at Paddock Hill Bend yesterday.
Attempting a qualifying run, the American ran too wide into the downhill opening bend, losing the rear end of his Dallara F312 and crashing hard into the tyre barrier.
Following the accident, Lewis remained conscious throughout the extraction process and was taken to the circuit’s medical centre. He was then transferred to a London hospital where he was diagnosed with a mild concussion, but suffered from no other significant injuries.
Lewis will not return to the driving seat until the next round at the Red Bull Ring in two weeks time.
Felix Rosenqvist and Lucas Auer topped the time sheets of this morning’s European Formula 3 free practice sessions at Brands Hatch.
Running on the much-lamented “Indy circuit”, Rosenqvist (Mücke) made the most of the cool conditions to register 35 laps in the opening forty-minute run, with a best tour of 41.570s.
The Swede swapped the mixed it at the top of board with Prema Powerteam pairing Alex Lynn, Raffaele Marciello and Carlin’s Jordan King. Sven Muller set the early pace in the session, as cars ventured out onto the cool track for the first time.
Auer went three-tenths quicker in the second free practice session, setting a best of 41.276s, garnering a 0.049s gap over Marciello. Rosenqvist went two-tenths quicker than his earlier time, but dropped to 3rd, while Mans Grenhagen showed improved late pace to scoop 4th spot.
The sessions were relatively quiet, although an off for Lynn at Clearways ended the opening session a few minutes earlier. Jann Mardenborough suffered a brief off through Paddock Hill Bend, but survived without damage.
Meanwhile Daniil Kvyat signed a deal to race with Carlin over the remainder of the European F3 season, alongside his GP3 drive with Arden. The Romeo Ferraris team return to the Formula 3 paddock with Michele Cerruti, following their absence from the Hockenheimring.
Fortec have reduced their weekend package back down to three cars, following Ed Jones’ guest appearance in the previous round. It means the field comes in at 29 entries – this was initially an issue due the Indy circuit’s limitation to 28 slots; however, that issue has since been bypassed and all 29 drives will start.
2013 FIA European F3 Championship (Rd 4, Free Practice 1) Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Felix Rosenqvist Mucke Dallara-Merc 41.570s 2. Alex Lynn Prema Dallara-Merc 41.612s + 0.042s 3. Raffaele Marciello Prema Dallara-Merc 41.687s + 0.117s 4. Jordan King Carlin Dallara-VW 41.710s + 0.140s 5. Tom Blomqvist Eurointernational Dallara-Merc 41.741s + 0.171s 6. Sven Muller Ma-con Dallara-VW 41.844s + 0.273s 7. Felix Serralles Fortec Dallara-Merc 41.848s + 0.278s 8. Dennis van de Laar Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW 41.898s + 0.328s 9. Antonio Giovinazzi Double R Dallara-Merc 41.902s + 0.332s 10. Lucas Auer Prema Dallara-Merc 41.902s + 0.332s 11. Harry Tincknell Carlin Dallara-VW 41.930s + 0.360s 12. Jann Mardenborough Carlin Dallara-VW 41.934s + 0.364s 13. Michael Lewis Mucke Dallara-Merc 42.001s + 0.431s 14. Nicholas Latifi Carlin Dallara-VW 42.034s + 0.464s 15. Eddie Cheever Prema Dallara-Merc 42.049s + 0.479s 16. Josh Hill Fortec Dallara-Merc 42.136s + 0.566s 17. Will Buller T-Sport Dallara-Nissan 42.141s + 0.571s 18. Roy Nissany Mucke Dallara-Merc 42.268s + 0.698s 19. Mans Grenhagen Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW 42.278s + 0.708s 20. Lucas Wolf URD Dallara-Merc 42.331s + 0.761s 21. Daniil Kvyat Carlin Dallara-VW 42.398s + 0.828s 22. Spike Goddard T-Sport Dallara-Nissan 42.467s + 0.897s 23. Mitchell Gilbert Mucke Dallara-Merc 42.566s + 0.996s 24. Andre Rudersdorf Ma-con Dallara-VW 42.676s + 1.106s 25. Tatiana Calderon Double R Dallara-Merc 42.784s + 1.214s 26. Sean Gelael Double R Dallara-Merc 42.879s + 1.309s 27. Pipo Derani Fortec Dallara-Merc 43.880s + 1.310s 28. Sandro Zeller Zeller Dallara-Merc 43.074s + 1.504s 29. Michela Cerruti Romeo Ferraris Dallara-Merc 44.298s + 2.728s 2013 FIA European F3 Championship (Rd 4, Free Practice 2) Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Lucas Auer Prema Dallara-Merc 41.276s 2. Raffaele Marciello Prema Dallara-Merc 41.325s + 0.049s 3. Felix Rosenqvist Mucke Dallara-Merc 41.348s + 0.072s 4. Mans Grenhagen Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW 41.450s + 0.174s 5. Felix Serralles Fortec Dallara-Merc 41.468s + 0.192s 6. Jordan King Carlin Dallara-VW 41.469s + 0.193s 7. Alex Lynn Prema Dallara-Merc 41.470s + 0.194s 8. Tom Blomqvist Eurointernational Dallara-Merc 41.478s + 0.202s 9. Dennis van de Laar Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW 41.532s + 0.256s 10. Michael Lewis Mucke Dallara-Merc 41.560s + 0.284s 11. Harry Tincknell Carlin Dallara-VW 41.596s + 0.320s 12. Josh Hill Fortec Dallara-Merc 41.601s + 0.325s 13. Will Buller T-Sport Dallara-Nissan 41.603s + 0.327s 14. Sven Muller Ma-con Dallara-VW 41.613s + 0.337s 15. Lucas Wolf URD Dallara-Merc 41.654s + 0.378s 16. Antonio Giovinazzi Double R Dallara-Merc 41.672s + 0.396s 17. Daniil Kvyat Carlin Dallara-VW 41.683s + 0.407s 18. Jann Mardenborough Carlin Dallara-VW 41.723s + 0.447s 19. Nicholas Latifi Carlin Dallara-VW 41.837s + 0.561s 20. Pipo Derani Fortec Dallara-Merc 41.874s + 0.615s 21. Eddie Cheever Prema Dallara-Merc 41.891s + 0.686s 22. Roy Nissany Mucke Dallara-Merc 41.962s + 0.748s 23. Spike Goddard T-Sport Dallara-Nissan 42.024s + 0.790s 24. Mitchell Gilbert Mucke Dallara-Merc 42.066s + 0.916s 25. Andre Rudersdorf Ma-con Dallara-VW 42.192s + 1.740s 26. Sean Gelael Double R Dallara-Merc 42.385s + 1.109s 27. Tatiana Calderon Double R Dallara-Merc 42.646s + 1.370s 28. Sandro Zeller Zeller Dallara-Merc 42.755s + 1.479s 29. Michela Cerruti Romeo Ferraris Dallara-Merc 43.815s + 2.539s
Unfortunately, one of talking points to emerge from last weekend’s GP2 action at Barcelona was that of driving standards in the category.
While there is little doubt the competitive end of GP2 contains some noteworthy talent – including the likes of Robin Frijns, Felipe Nasr, James Calado, Sam Bird and points leader Stefano Coletti – there have been occasions when the pack has been a touch… frenetic.
So much so that standards of driving have once again called into question, yet this is by no means just a GP2 problem by any stretch of the imagination.
Having played witness to some truly horrendous and petulant incidents, whether they occur in Formula 3, Formula Renault, GP3, Auto GP or otherwise, far too often too lenient an action has been taken.
Often by the time a number of drivers have reached the level of GP2, the die has been cast by experience.
On the penultimate lap of Sunday’s GP2 Series sprint race, Caterham’s Sergio Canamasas peered down the inside of a struggling Johnny Cecotto Jr (Arden) at the Banc de Sabadell turn, with Canamasas running the kerb as they approached the new chicane.
As the pair leaned in toward Europcar corner – with Cecotto Jr slightly ahead – the Arden racer appeared to swerve very suddenly to the right, clashing with Canamasas. Despite the hit Cecotto Jr to maintain 5th.
From there, Canamasas slowed dramatically and his race was rendered null when moments later he was rear-ended by Rio Haryanto.
Following a review of the collision, the stewards declared the clash to be a racing incident, with neither party receiving punishment – a decision that drew some exasperation from within the paddock. Speaking to Cecotto Jr afterward, the Arden racer was clear about his innocence. “There was contact with Canamasas; I left him plenty of space for him to go to the right and the stewards saw that as well and they took no further action.”
It had been a tricky race for Cecotto Jr. The Venezuelan banged wheels with eventual race winner Stefano Coletti off the start, damaging his steering arm in the process. “I was really struggling, because in the first corner Coletti didn’t give me any space, crashed into me and since then I had steering bent far to the left. It made it very difficult throughout the race, especially in the first lap when I lost two positions because at one corner, the car just didn’t turn at all – I actually thought I had a puncture.”
Somewhat disabled by the opening lap collision drove the Arden racer to push his Pirelli’s harder than he ideally would have. But… that swerve… it is not, nor should it excuse, which makes the eventual stewards decision so unusual.
The incident generated yet more criticism for the already under-fire Cecotto Jr. It is less than two months since the Colombian racer deliberately drove Sam Bird off the track toward the end of qualifying at Sepang and come the following round in Bahrain, Canamasas did the same to Kevin Ceccon – twice.
On both occasions, Cecotto Jr and Canamasas merely had their qualifying times deleted, but with lenient penalties being awarded for such dubious conduct, it is maybe no surprise to find the third weekend in a row marred by such on track manoeuvres. In Malaysia, Cecotto Jr recovered to score points in the sprint race.
As with the series mentioned earlier, GP2 is a learning category, although the competitors within are decidedly closer to the top rung of single-seater motorsport. Ideally, these types of incidents should have been wrung out of a driver’s psyche long before s/he has reached GP2, but the increasing tendency for drivers to act out in such an aggressive manner on track raises the question as to whether enough is being done prior to GP2 to stamp out poor driving standards.
It is no secret that drivers in the ranks have been getting younger in recent decades and while the experience of karting and early race car divisions is clearly in abundance, maturity is often still yet to form, as occasional Formula One Driver Representative Allan McNish explains. “They started racing earlier, so their race craft is better. They’ve been brought up and educated in the ways of motorsport in a wider way than we ever were, but then again, they are still young and they still don’t have that real world experience.”
A former Formula One driver and twice winner of the Le Mans 24 Hour Race, McNish has acted as coach to young drivers, including Carlin’s European Formula 3 driver Harry Tincknell. “There’s never any easy solution, the only thing is young drivers have a lot more talent and energy than experience and you have to learn these things, so it’s partly the education process and the growing up process and you see certain drivers who know how to keep out of trouble and they end up winning championships – Robin Frijns is an example.
“They are definitely more aware and better developed than I was at 16 or 17. Sometimes it’s the stuff away from the racing circuit the working with engineers and all the development of that side of things can also be part of it.”
On Sunday afternoon, one current GP2 driver left me in no doubt as to his thoughts of the situation. “Something needs to be done about the driving standards right now, because some people are getting away with some things and it’s spoiling the racing for other people – there were so many people deliberately driving other cars off the track,” said the race winner, before adding “The tarmac is there for a reason – it’s to be used and for the drivers to use it. Just because they are coming through doesn’t mean that they need to put you on the grass – it’s a completely avoidable accident every time.”
Expanding on the point, he also revealed, “Nobody is learning. We’ve had three rounds now and it’s still going on. You see a couple [of incidents] during the year and think ‘he’s gone too wild there’, but it’s common ground to that now and in my book it’s wrong. There’s defending a position harshly, but fairly and there’s forcing drivers off the track and the latter seems to be the thing to do right now.”
The application of fair stewarding is not purely to act as a monitor fair competition on track, but also as a point of safety, as noted by McNish. “When you take Eau Rouge or even the old last corner [at Circuit de Catalunya] when there was no run off area and there was only one metre between you and the wall, if you did something that was a bit radical, you had a shunt and now if you do something a bit radical, you both go across the run off area or somebody spins and that’s it.
“The ‘get out of jail free’ card is there much than it ever was before, which is correct, because nobody wants to have the shunts that they had before. They hurt, I can tell you from experience, they bloody well hurt.”
The likes of Formula 3, World Series, GP3 and GP2 exist to prepare drivers for the top level of single-seater motor racing, yet while dangerous on track actions persist, it only serves to harm the reputation of junior categories everywhere and the competitors within.
It is about time the sport works to change that attitude to poor driving standards, before petulance does some very real damage.
Carlin Motorsport racer Nick Yelloly is confident his sidestep to the GP3 Series in 2013 will bear fruit in his push to reach Formula One.
Hailing from Staffordshire in England, Yelloly had previously raced in the original iteration of the GP3 Series in 2011 with Atech CRS, before moving to Formula Renault 3.5 in latter part of the year.
A full season in the Renault 3.5 category followed in 2012, with Yelloly enjoying a confident run with Comtec, picking up two wins and a further two runner-up spots on his way to 5th in the championship, before announcing his switch back to GP3 with Trevor Carlin’s eponymous team.
On his return to the Formula One support series, the 22-year-old scored a 4th place in race one, but was punted out of the Sunday morning opener while running in a podium place.
Yelloly entered this year with plenty of experience behind him and with Carlin; he believes a title push is very much on the cards. “This is probably one of the first times that I’ve gone into a season with a team that have won a lot before and Carlin are proven championship winners.”
With Red Bull junior driver Antonio Felix da Costa behind the wheel of the original GP3/10 machine, Carlin enjoyed a solid run to 3rd last season and it is a performance Yelloly believes that success can be repeated and even improved upon. “They fought at the front last year and yes, it is a different car, but it is all the same people that made the car fast in the first place, so I’m pretty confident about that,” notes the World Series race winner. He adds, “I’ve got the experience of higher power, a bit of age and experience with tyres going off, whereas the older tyres in GP3 didn’t really go off. There’s a bit of extra pressure, but if you can’t deal with pressure, then this isn’t the sport to be in.”
Introducing the GP3/13 chassis and engine package has virtually transformed the face of the championship from one of an underpowered category with low buzzsaw-sounding engines to one which aligned itself as a healthy step up from Formula 3.
The naturally aspirated 3.4 litre engines and slightly reconfigured aerodynamic programme have certainly upped the laptimes, with the pole lap in Spain some 4.449 seconds quicker than last year’s effort, although the unchanged tyre compounds have proved a touch dramatic in their degradation – a factor picked up in pre-season testing. “The track temperatures [in testing] will never be as high as what we will run [at race weekends], but you never know with the way the weather is in Europe at the moment. You never know what the weather will be like, but it should be a lot warmer than what we tested in.”
As with all the competitors in the GP3 Series this year, Yelloly has found the Pirelli tyres a troublesome component due to excessively high wear, but one that needs to be mastered if success is to come.
Indeed the nature of the new car and the Pirelli’s saw lap times drop by approximately 7-10 seconds per lap by the end of the races; however the Englishman was pleased with how the new machine handled. “GP3 have done a really good job with the new car,” says the Carlin lead. “The old car wasn’t a proper racing machine – the engine was quite flat and there wasn’t much grip. Now it feels like the old World Series [by Renault] from around 2011 – there’s a fair bit of power and not tonnes of grip, although the new car […] is a completely different animal to the old car.“
Carlin have achieved much since their formation in the mid-90s and it is that success that has served to boost Yelloly’s belief in the team. “Being at Carlin is great, because we have a bit of cross reference with the GP2 team who have already ran in hot conditions and seen how their car behaved, so I don’t think it will hamper us too much.”
With eight British Formula 3 titles, as well as a couple of World Series crowns in Carlin’s drawers, Yelloly has had plenty of praise for his new team. “They are probably the most professional that I have worked with and they are very, very thorough.” He continues, “Mike Lugg is my engineer; he is very experienced and won in Formula 3 with [Jean-Eric] Vergne, so I have some very good people on my side.
“They are very serious when it comes down to business. We just have to get on with using the car – we have just got on with our job, not really worry about the times, because we’re pretty confident that we will be there or thereabouts.”
Inevitably there have been questions as to why Yelloly has transferred back to the GP3 Series in light of his achievements in the Formula Renault 3.5 category; however for the Staffordshire native, it was all quite simple – and very familiar. “Money is a big thing. We couldn’t fund another season [in Formula Renault 3.5] in a top team,” comments Yelloly. “I was with Comtec, who came last in the championship the year before and that was a very good deal, but to go and win it [in a top team] or be in the mix with [Antonio Felix] da Costa, [Kevin] Magnussen and [Stoffel] Vandoorne, we just couldn’t afford it.”
It is a story now all too common along the ranks feeder series categories, as drivers struggle to meet the rising costs of competing in motorsport; however Yelloly was undeterred by the financial barriers ahead. “I thought ‘what’s the next best thing to do to relight the fire?’ and GP3 with Carlin was a no-brainer. We got a good deal. The car was coming up in performance; you learn the Pirelli tyres, race in front of the Formula One bosses and get to drive for Trevor as well,” states Yelloly matter-of-factly, before adding, “That was the motivation.”
As GP3 is not running in Monte Carlo this year, there is several weeks until the next competitive meet at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia; however the meantime, the field is to congregate in June at the Hungaroring for its sole in-season test. Yelloly is confident that the team can at least go some way to solving some of the heavy tyre wear issues that cropped up in Barcelona.
Despite his drawbacks in the opening round, Yelloly is realistic about the potential for the rest of the season and of the long term. “The aim is to win, as everyone will say. Really, we’re trying to raise the money to either do something similar to Robert Wickens, where he went back to World Series to win, but ideally [the future] would be GP2.
“If the money is not there, then you have to look at different routes or go into sportscars, GTs or LMPs, but at the moment I am still fully focused on getting into Formula One, so therefore either World Series or GP2.”