“And then everything was quiet…”
The hustle and bustle has finally ceased. Cases have been housed, all carefully ordered and managed, soon to be going to Macau.
Some drivers hung around. The conclusion of the Formula 3 Euro Series gave the competitors an opportunity to let their collective hair down.
There may have been several painful hangovers come Monday morning, although to be fair, if one can handle the G-forces of a modern F312 Dallara’s, then a hangover should not be too debilitating.
One driver who may have been nursing a sore head on Monday is newly crowned FIA European F3 and Euro Series champion Daniel Juncadella.
Following an arduous season that saw the Spaniard fight off tough challenges from Raffaele Marciello and rookie Pascal Wehrlein, these titles are just rewards; however Juncadella will be keen to absorb some key lessons.
Admittedly the engine failures that so nearly cost him both championships at the Hockenheimring were out of his control, but realistically it should not have been so close in the points stakes.
A more aggressive approach led to too many clashes resulting in retirements; drive through penalties and disqualifications, almost costing Juncadella the title. Now a champion, the relief was clear for all to see. The deep frowns had fallen away, leaving a delighted, if emotionally tired driver.
“Just when I crossed the line was a bit like Macau last year. After all that, I had many thoughts in my head telling me that maybe I’m not for winning. It was the sweetest way to win the championship, by having the worst weekend at on of my favourite tracks.
“There was also a strange feeling with the steering, so at the point I could feel more happy and I shouted out because I wanted to win, especially after yesterday. This time I didn’t want to look at the laps; yesterday I was counting down how many laps to go and that made it a bit more difficult.”
Naturally, going a season without faltering at least once is difficult; however the Spaniard was far too often his own worst enemy.
In seasons past, the Prema Powerteam driver has been considered an intelligent racer rather than an aggressive one – taking the hard-line approach proved a risky endeavour, especially when it comes so unnaturally.
“It’s been a big experience. A few years ago, I was always named as a ”soft driver”; like a kind of driver who did not risk too much, that I wasn’t aggressive enough and they would say “you should overtake, you should have gone here or be like the bad boy”, so this year I tried to change that a little bit.
“My aggression was a bit harder and sometimes I did mistakes and had crashes, two exclusions for going over the line – this is experience for the future. I really wanted to win the championship with a bigger gap and not need to do it in the last race…”
For Wehrlein, the Germany racer – who only turned 18 years old just prior to the weekend – showed once his strengths lay in consistency and while the outright speed has yet to be harnessed, Wehrlein has still impressed.
“I am consistent. To drive with drivers who are at the best level. It’s a very hard series, but if it is managed well, it can be good for the next step,“ said the Mücke Motorsport racer.
“I tried in every race to get a lot of points. Since Brands Hatch, I had every weekend on the podium, so the season went very well for me with 2nd place in the first year was nearly perfect.”
Lingering just shy of the leading trio, Felix Rosenqvist also displayed an impressed mix of flare and speed with Mücke Motorsport, but difficulties understanding the 2012 Hancook tyres made what should have a boon season all too often a trying experience.
The Swede will rightfully take pride in having won four races (he also took three of the last four races) – proof that the speed is there, when the understanding correlates. At times, Rosenqvist overdrove his Mercedes-powered machine, dragging points where unlikely, but there’s only so much a driver can do that.
Rosenqvist and his engineers can also site a lack of knowledge regarding the new Dallara F312, but next year, there will no excuses. Yet despite the positives, where Rosenqvist goes from here is far from solidified; however the 20-year-old remains hopeful.
“I have no idea,” noted the typically blonde Swede with a sigh. “I think all the talks will start next week – that’s when we will see what happens, but at the moment I have no idea. We haven’t talked anything for next year.” There is also a touch of realism in Mücke Motorsport racer – a helpful trait in a profession full of dreamers.
“There are some things we want to do, but there’s a lot of things I want to do, but can’t. Let’s hope it’s something good…” and with that, the weight of his bottle of champagne became too much.
For the likes of Tom Blomqvist, the weekend represented a relatively accurate picture of how their entire season developed.
Even with the briefest of looks, the frustration was obvious. Standing over his car, Blomqvist’s arms drooped limply over his sides, while hands fidgeted with waist-tied race suit. His face drawn into exasperation, the son of Stig grabbed a deep breath.
“There’s something missing. There’s still something to unlock. We tested a few thing at Valencia, but it’s not there yet.”
Outside now, the sun dipped. The piercing light dulled and the once oppressive heat dissipated, turning the air cool and clear. From an assortment of fast cars, young men and grid girls, the season tension and energy has already passed into history.
And then everything was quiet…