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“German GP: Rosberg fastest in final practice”

Nico Rosberg topped the final free practice session of the German Grand Prix weekend this morning.

The Mercedes man was the only driver to break the 1’18s marker, with his best (1:17.779s) coming eight minutes from the end of the sixty.

Rosberg’s closest markers was teammate Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso; both of whom ended the practice six tenths adrift of the top spot.

Despite the loss of the current FRIC technology, the Mercedes appeared more confident, especially through the slow, lingering stadium section.

Alonso was initially quickest of the super-softs run, but was trumped – first by Rosberg and later Hamilton; however the Spaniard did suffer an unusual spin in the Arena section toward the halfway mark. The second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen could do better than 8th after the Finn lost a portion of the session with a fuel system issue.

Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas were 4th and 5th for Williams, with both the white and blue machines showing speed, despite occasional bouts of instability.
Kevin Magnussen lined up 6th in his McLaren.
The Dane ran well on the super-soft rubber, although teammate Jenson Button was less assured as he suffered numerous lock-ups in the braking zones. The best Button could do was a distant 13th.

The Red Bull’s assumed 7th and 9th, with Daniel Ricciardo heading Sebastian Vettel. Both the Renault-powered machines appeared to struggle with rear end balance under the Hockenheim sun.

Outside the top group, Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso, 11th) suffered braking issues, while Marussia’s Max Chilton lost most of the session following an electrical failure.

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“Stanaway quickest in GP3 practice”

© Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.

© Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.

Richie Stanaway ended GP3 Series practice at the Hockenheimring as the quickest man yesterday.

The Status Grand Prix man ended the session just two-tenths up on ART Grand Prix racer and local man Marvin Kirchhöfer, while Stanaway’s teammate Nick Yelloly claimed 3rd.

Despite the close of the evening, practice was still held very much in hot conditions, as track temperatures remained in the mid-40s° Celsius range, ensuring

Stanaway’s quickest reference point – a 1:29.473 – came in the five minutes of the session, although the Kiwi had spent much of the session near the top of the order.

ART Grand Prix also had a second car in the top four as Dino Zamparelli ran well, just edging ahead of Patrick Kujala (Koiranen GP) and Emil Bernstorff (Carlin) – the latter of whom enjoyed an adventured through the gravel at one point.

Patric Niederhauser (Arden) was the first of the driver’s unable to breach the 1’30s barrier. He pipped points leader Alex Lynn (Carlin) by just 0.008s come the end of the 45-minute session. Lynn’s title rival Jimmy Eriksson (Koiranen) could do no better than 22nd.

There were two quite embarrassing moments, as first Adderly Fong ran wide at turn one, but kept his foot down and eventually lost control, pitching him into the inside barriers at pit exit.
Also Riccardo Agostini ended the practice beached on the fake grass in the stadium section after he ran off at the tail end of the session.

It may matter little. This is only practice and qualifying comes later this morning and conditions may vary wildly under the morning sun.

2014 GP3 Round of Germany (Rd 4, Free Practice)
Pos Driver               Team       Time       Gap     Laps
 1. Richie Stanaway      Status     1m29.473s           16
 2. Marvin Kirchhöfer    ART        1m29.678s  +0.205s  18
 3. Nick Yelloly         Status     1m29.729s  +0.256s  14
 4. Dino Zamparelli      ART        1m29.740s  +0.267s  18
 5. Patrick Kujala       Manor      1m29.792s  +0.319s  20
 6. Emil Bernstorff      Carlin     1m29.814s  +0.341s  18
 7. Patric Niederhauser  Arden      1m30.085s  +0.612s  21
 8. Alex Lynn            Carlin     1m30.093s  +0.620s  17
 9. Roman de Beer        Trident    1m30.241s  +0.768s  20
10. Riccardo Agostini    Hilmer     1m30.295s  +0.822s  18
11. Dean Stoneman        Manor      1m30.352s  +0.879s  18
12. Alex Fontana         ART        1m30.459s  +0.986s  19
13. Mitchell Gilbert     Trident    1m30.475s  +1.002s  17
14. Luis Sa Silva        Carlin     1m30.543s  +1.070s  18
15. Sebastian Balthasar  Hilmer     1m30.609s  +1.136s  25
16. Robert Visoiu        Arden      1m30.621s  +1.148s  20
17. Pal Varhaug          Jenzer     1m30.627s  +1.154s  22
18. Matheo Tuscher       Jenzer     1m30.706s  +1.233s  22
19. Nelson Mason         Hilmer     1m30.727s  +1.254s  18
20. Jann Mardenborough   Arden      1m30.768s  +1.295s  22
21. Alfonso Celis        Status     1m30.770s  +1.29?s  18
22. Jimmy Eriksson       Koiranen   1m30.979s  +1.506s  16
23. Ryan Cullen          Manor      1m31.166s  +1.693s  22
24. Adderly Fong         Jenzer     1m31.792s  +2.319s  13
25. Victor Carbone       Trident    1m31.813s  +2.340s  14
26. Santiago Urrutia     Koiranen   1m32.401s  +2.928s  18
27. Carmen Jorda         Koiranen   1m35.289s  +5.816s  19

“Palmer grabs GP2 Hockenheim pole”

Palmer on pole. © Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.

Palmer on pole. © Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.

Jolyon Palmer secured his third GP2 Series pole of the season at Hockenheim today.

Despite running the fewest laps of the session, the DAMS man nailed the one that counted, with a best of 1:23.383s coming on his third of eight laps.

It is a result that gives championship leader Palmer an additional four points, building his lead to 38 over Carlin rival Felipe Nasr.

ART Grand Prix’s Stoffel Vandoorne will line up aside Palmer on the front row; however the Belgian driver’s best lap was still some three-tenths shy of Palmer’s effort.

Stefano Coletti (Racing Engineering) took 3rd on the grid, leading a tightly packed trio, which also consisted of GP2 Series returnee Tom Dillmann (Caterham, 4th) and Nasr (5th).
Campos Racing’s Arthur Pic continued his solid form to secure 6th on the grid, ahead of Raffaele Marciello, who lost two quick laps due to being blocked; first by Takuya Izawa and then by Rio Haryanto, both of whom attracted three-place grid drops.

Rounding out the fourth row will be Haryanto’s Caterham teammate, Alexander Rossi, followed by Rapax racer Simon Trummer. Johnny Cecotto Jr had originally set the 7th fastest time; however the Venezuelan was docked three positions for impeding Haryanto while on a quick tour.
Disappointingly Silverstone race winner Mitch Evans could do no better than 15th in his RUSSIAN TIME entry.

Although not quickest in any of the individual sectors, Palmer pole strung all his personal bests together – a feat matched by only Coletti – to pip Stoffel Vandoorne by over two-tenths.
If anything, this was a qualifying session characterised by inconsistencies throughout the field. As temperatures continued to rise, laptimes faltered from sector to sector while the Pirelli’s peeled away at a dramatic rate.

Some relative parity existed across the middle sector; however it appears Palmer’s opposition lost out through the first and final sector, where driver’s appeared to be losing tenths at a go.
Should similar weather conditions continue tomorrow, it may result in an interesting race, although maybe not a classic – from this point, it seems unlikely those who push the hardest will be the winners.
Watch out for the unflappable one who quietly controls the race under the German heat.

2014 GP2 Round of Hockenheim (Rd 6, Race 1 qualifying)
Pos Driver               Team                  Time       Gap     Laps
 1. Jolyon Palmer        DAMS                  1m23.383s            8
 2. Stoffel Vandoorne    ART                   1m23.665s  +0.282s  12
 3. Stefano Coletti      Racing Engineering    1m23.722s  +0.339s  12
 4. Tom Dillmann         Caterham              1m23.776s  +0.393s  11
 5. Felipe Nasr          Carlin                1m23.781s  +0.398s  12
 6. Arthur Pic           Campos                1m23.859s  +0.436s  12
 8. Raffaele Marciello   Racing Engineering    1m23.918s  +0.535s  12
 9. Alexander Rossi      Campos                1m23.965s  +0.582s  13
10. Simon Trummer        Rapax                 1m23.983s  +0.600s  12
 7. Johnny Cecotto       Trident               1m23.860s  +0.477s  14*
11. Stephane Richelmi    DAMS                  1m24.024s  +0.641s  12
12. Rene Binder          Arden                 1m24.094s  +0.711s  10
13. Nathanael Berthon    Lazarus               1m24.253s  +0.870s  11
14. Daniel Abt           Hilmer                1m24.311s  +0.928s  12
15. Mitch Evans          Russian Time          1m24.335s  +0.952s  11
16. Julian Leal          Carlin                1m24.421s  +1.038s  11
17. Conor Daly           Lazarus               1m24.437s  +1.054s  11
18. Jon Lancaster        Hilmer                1m24.453s  +1.070s  14
19. Andre Negrao         Arden                 1m24.476s  +1.093s  11
20. Artem Markelov       Russian Time          1m24.496s  +1.113s  11
21. Adrian Quaife-Hobbs  Rapax                 1m24.590s  +1.20?s  12
22. Sergio Canamasas     Trident               1m24.598s  +1.215s  13
23. Takuya Izawa         ART                   1m24.335s  +0.952s  11**
24. Marco Sorensen       MP                    1m24.888s  +1.505s  13
25. Rio Haryanto         Caterham              1m24.502s  +1.119s  11*
26. Daniel de Jong       MP                    1m25.189s  +1.806s  11

Notes:
Penalties
*Cecotto Jr and Haryanto: 3-place grid drops for blocking.
**Izawa: 3-place grid drop for blocking, plus additional penalty following Silverstone round.

Vandoorne was also quick. © Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.

Vandoorne was also quick. © Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.

“German GP: Hamilton takes FP2 lead”

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton strode to the top of times in today’s second free practice at the Hockenheimring.

The Briton set a quickest alp of 1:18.341; just 0.024s quicker than teammate and championship leader Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton set his quickest toward the end of his qualifying simulation. The Englishman ran fastest just after Rosberg suffered a brief off on his opening flyer on the super-soft Pirelli’s.
Rosberg did improve the next time by, but fell short of his archrival.

Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) was 3rd quickest for Red Bull, finishing a tenth down of the silver pair out front.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was next on the timesheets, with Kevin Magnussen’s following through in 5th for McLaren.

The session was cut short for Caterham’s Kamui Kobayashi whose engine gave up at the halfway point, while Marcus Ericsson also suffered mechanical difficulties in the second green machine.

“Red Bull expects”

© Leigh O'Gorman.

© Leigh O’Gorman.

Things are looking well for Alex Lynn. The Red Bull backed 20-year-old fronts the GP3 Series with Carlin Motorsport and heads into this weekend’s fourth round at Hockenheim a confident man.

Of course, there are threats to his lead. Sweden’s Jimmy Eriksson won last time out at Silverstone and cut Lynn’s advantage to just eight points, but last year’s Macau Grand Prix winner does not appear outwardly concerned.

Admittedly, the difficulties experienced during the second races at both Barcelona and Austria annoyed the Essex-born racer, but Lynn is learning and he knows the speed is there.

As do Red Bull – and that is why Lynn is part of the programme that has helped deliver Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat. However the pressure is on and Red Bull expects.

Rumours circulating have already placed Carlos Sainz Jr in the recently bought out Caterham F1 squad, possibly to replace Kamui Kobayshi as early as after the summer break.
And Lynn believes he is ready to join the Red Bull pack on the Formula One grid in 2015, but to where?

While Vergne has done a reasonable job at Toro Rosso so far this year, one wonders in decent is ‘good enough’ against his rookie teammate Kvyat.
If the 20-year-old Russian continues to perform, the pressure on Vergne will only increase and if a door is going to open up for Sainz Jr and Lynn, Toro Rosso and Caterham may be where the duo could slot in.

But it is early days yet and there are still lots of races to run before decisions for the future are set in stone.

“GP2 Series: Coletti tops Hockenheim practice”

© GP2 Series Media Services.

© GP2 Series Media Services.

Stefano Coletti headed the GP2 Series practice session at the Hockenheimring this afternoon.

Coletti’s quickest tour – a 1:24.771 – gave the Monegasque racer a one-tenth advantage over ART Grand Prix’ Stoffel Vandoorne.

Behind the leading pair was Coletti’s Racing Engineering teammate Raffaele Marciello, who was the first driver in the 1’25s.

The in-form Marciello showed some solid single lap pace again today; however the Italian was gingerly shadowed by Campos Racing new boy Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly, who pulled some credible pace from the Venezuela GP Lazarus machine.

Stéphane Richelmi took 6th for DAMS, ahead of his championship leader teammate Jolyon Palmer, who ran in 12th, while Palmer’s title challenger Felipe Nasr assumed 8th.
Silverstone Feature Race winner Mitch Evans was down in 17th place for RUSSIAN TIME. Evans’ teammate Artem Markelov enjoyed a harsh trip through the gravel earlier in the session, excitedly kicking up dust in the process.

As expected, there were plenty of off-track excursions at turn one, forcing the stewards to issue a number of warnings through the session.

“German GP: Rosberg heads FP1”

Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg headed the opening free practice session of this weekend’s German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.

As the circuit held a temperature around 27°-28° Celsius, the championship leader’s best lap of 1:19.131 was more than enough to keep him ahead of Silver Arrows teammate Lewis Hamilton.

The field was out in force in the early session, as teams ran their 2014 machines without the current FRIC system, following its ban by FIA stewards. Practice was busy early as teams ran the Pirelli soft compound tyre, which was handed back at the 30-minute mark.

Behind the Mercedes duo was Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, albeit three-tenths shy of the top time, while Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo ended the practice in 4th. Jenson Button (McLaren) closed out the top five, ahead of Sebastian Vettel who, in 6th place, was the first of the driver’s to not break the 1’20s barrier.
Vettel did head the early portion of the session with a 1:20.295; however as the field emerged for the second half of practice, times began to tumble considerably.

Kimi Raikkonen lost a chunk of the session to a mechanical failure in his Ferrari, as did Susie Wolff, whose Williams FW36 became stuck in 1st gear on her outlap. Fortunately both were able to rejoin the session, with Raikkonen lining up 8th and Wolff impressing in 15th, just two-tenths shy of her teammate Felipe Massa. Wolff did break the pitlane speed limit during the session, early a €1,000 fine.

2014 German Grand Prix (Rd 10, FP1)
Pos Driver               Team         Time
 1. Nico Rosberg         Mercedes     1:19.131
 2. Lewis Hamilton       Mercedes     1:19.196
 3. Fernando Alonso      Ferrari      1:19.423
 4. Daniel Ricciardo     Red Bull     1:19.697
 5. Jenson Button        McLaren      1:19.833
 6. Sebatian Vettel      Red Bull     1:20.097
 7. Kevin Magnussen      McLaren      1:20.105
 8. Kimi Raikkonen       Ferrari      1:20.210
 9. Daniil Kvyat         Tori Rosso   1:20.337
10. Adrian Sutil         Sauber       1:20.505
11. Felipe Massa         Williams     1:20.542
12. Jean-Eric Vergne     Toro Rosso   1:20.586
13. Nico Hulkenberg      Force India  1:20.592
14. Sergio Perez         Force India  1:20.598
15. Susie Wolff          Williams     1:20.769
16. Giedo van der Garde  Sauber       1:20.782
17. Romain Grosjean      Lotus        1:21.603
18. Pastor Maldonado     Lotus        1:21.854
19. Kamui Kobayashi      Caterham     1:22.572
20. Jules Bianchi        Marussia     1:22.982
21. Marcus Ericsson      Caterham     1:23.256
22. Max Chilton          Marussia     1:23.299

“Hanging Around”

Following a rather long lay off due to injury, the German Grand Prix is to be my first race weekend back since Monaco.

It goes without saying that the past two months have been incredibly frustrating, as several trips have had to be cancelled as I waited.

It was also interesting to note how distant I had gone from airport routine once in Heathrow.
Parts of the airport “experience” had simply slipped from head, most likely due to amount of time one had spent lying on a couch with feet firmly propped into the air.

Alas apart from Kimi Raikkonen’s deft “I crashed” comment to FIFA nixing Nico Rosberg’s helmut, much of the Thursday musings have slipped me by on account of being office tied in other employment.

There were further developments at Caterham when it was announced that the new owners had laid off a portion of the staff in order to make the team more “efficient.”

We’ll see.

Admittedly, there is a part of me that always shudders when operations use the term “efficiency” to disguise the fact that they are sacking people.
But that is life unfortunately.

For now, lunch awaits.

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“GP2 Series: Moving and shaking for Rossi and Dillmann”

 

It's been a tricky 2014 for Rossi. © GP2 Series Media Services

It’s been a tricky 2014 for Rossi. © GP2 Series Media Services

Alexander Rossi will join Campos Racing’s GP2 Series effort this weekend, having announced the decision to split with the Caterham F1 and GP2 teams.

Rossi will drive in place of Kimiya Sato, who will be competing at this weekend’s Auto GP round at the Red Bull Ring.

As a consequence, former RUSSIAN TIME pilot, Tom Dillmann will occupy Rossi’s former seat with the EQ8 Caterham GP2 team; however whereas Rossi takes the Campos drive for Germany only, Dillmann is to remain with Caterham until at least Hungary.

This has been a very difficult season thus far for both Rossi and Caterham. The American lies 16th in the standings during a year when pre-season promise has proved extremely flat in practice.
Commenting on his official Facebook page, Rossi said: “It’s been an emotional couple of years with the [Caterham F1] team, the highlight being driving with them in Austin last year. Now it’s time to move on. My goal is to be in F1 and add value to the sport and I’m very optimistic about my next steps; we have a great opportunity to grow the sport in the States and I believe the timing is perfect.”

Meanwhile, Campos Racing have enjoyed a reasonable first season back in GP2, primarily at the hands of Rossi’s new teammate Arthur Pic, who has scored points in six of the ten GP2 races so far.
Rossi will be hoping that form – and some familiar faces – can improve his current championship position. “I had a chance to work with the team’s Technical Director Philippe Gautheron during the latter part of the 2013 season, including my win in Abu Dhabi,” said Rossi. “I feel we have a very good opportunity for a strong race weekend in Hockenheim.”
This marks a key point in Rossi’s career to date. It is no secret the American is quick and has shown good form against some top opposition in past season’s, but the treaded path has not always been the most consistent. What Rossi does next will be very intriguing, especially when one considers the relative importance of the US market to certain parties the in Formula One paddock.

Rossi’s departure comes on the back of numerous changes within the Caterham F1 organisation, which was bought out by Swiss and Middle Eastern investors two weeks ago.

See also:
“Berthon joins Caterham F1 Development Programme”

Following the sale, Colin Kolles took charge of the squad, while Christijan Albers has become Team Principal; assisted by long time Kolles associate Manfredi Ravetto. Since then, the Ravetto-managed Nathanaël Berthon has been announced as the lead Caterham Development Driver.

Meanwhile, this will be Dillmann’s second GP2 appearance of the year, having filled in for the injured André Negrão at Barcelona in May. At that round, Dillmann scored a podium in the Sprint Race after starting from pole.
The 25-year-old will be looking for more the same over the next two weeks. He commented: “Driving for a successful team means that we should be able to achieve good results together and I hope that these two race weekends will help me find a GP2 seat for the rest of the season.”
A former German F3 champion, Dillmann was one of the unmentioned keys to RUSSIAN TIME’s success. He is previously a GP2 race winner, having claimed the top spot at Bahrain for the Sprint Race in 2012 with Rapax.

Dillmann, meanwhile, scored a podium in Spain. © GP2 Series Media Services.

Dillmann, meanwhile, scored a podium in Spain. © GP2 Series Media Services.

“FIA European F3 Analysis: Ocon hits back”

© FIA F3 Media Services.

© FIA F3 Media Services.

Ocon strikes back? To be fair, it is not as if Esteban Ocon went away at any point during Max Verstappen’s recent run of success.

Indeed, while Verstappen’s streak of six consecutive Formula 3 race victories – seven if you include the Zandvoort Masters – was mightily impressive, Ocon was rarely far adrift.

That the French teenager pulled four 2nd place finishes during his “barren patch” at Spa-Francorchamps and the Norisring says more about Ocon’s capacity to succeed, despite the rising pressures of closing a title amidst the Verstappen steam train.

Ocon’s victories at Moscow Raceway this weekend in his Mercedes-powered Prema Powerteam machine did much to settle those burgeoning nerves; his ambitions helped by Verstappen taking one retirement, while neither Lucas Auer nor Tom Blomqvist were in a position to capitalise.
Indeed, Ocon’s lead at the front is now at its strongest this year; however one remembers the same being written about Raffaele Marciello prior to last season’s third last round European F3 round at Zandvoort {note 1}

But Ocon is well versed in the dialect of victory and from the moment he arrived at Moscow Raceway, the odds seemed to pull toward him. That he had previous experience of the circuit certainly helped. “I know the Moscow circuit from my time in Formula Renault 2.0 and I have already been on the podium there once,” said the Normandy native in the weekend preview, adding ominously, “After two meetings in which I didn’t score a single win, my goal is to change that in Russia.”

If there is one factor that should worry his rivals, it is that Ocon does not look like breaking any time soon. There are two meetings in August – at the Red Bull Ring and the Nürburgring – and the 17-year-old will do his utmost to close the door on this championship before the two-month break.

No one likes stories hanging on a thread quite like that.

Race One
“I like to race at this circuit that has many corners, which is something that generally suits me. Overtaking is not very easy at this track,” said Ocon prior to qualifying.

Oh how right he was. That his margin was over six-tenths of a second to the next fastest man, Carlin’s Jordan King, only served to further emphasise just how much Ocon enjoys the Moscow Raceway circuit.
True, it is not everyone’s favourite by a long shot, but when you are winning, appreciation grows.

King, of course, had other ambitions. “I’d rather be closer to pole position, time wise, but it’s still good to be on the front row. The aim now is get past Ocon at the start.”

Not a chance. Off the line, the Prema Powerteam racer stormed away and eventually claimed his first success of the weekend, breaking Verstappen’s run of six consecutive wins. Of the start, Ocon said: “Probably, my start was the best I made so far this year.”
King, too, made a good getaway; just not quite good enough. “The only real good opportunity to overtake was at the start, but unfortunately for me [Ocon] made a good start as did I, so the gap remained the same.”

In what was a show of pure strength, Ocon led each lap and while the lead rarely stretched to further than a few seconds, the truth is it did not need to be stretched. Inside the cockpit, Ocon was driving a thinking man’s race, especially when it came to managing his Hankook tyres. “I reckon that I used my tyres a little too much in the opening stages, because I got slower towards the end. Nevertheless, it was enough to bring victory home,” noted the victor.
As he stamped his authority on the race, the only thing Ocon didn’t break was a sweat.

Behind the leading Prema Powerteam man, King was also beginning to conserve. “In the opening stages, I wanted to follow Esteban and I probably slightly overdid it with my tyres, too. Just like Esteban, I wasn’t able to drive as fast as our rivals Max Verstappen and Tom Blomqvist towards the end either.”

Verstappen, meanwhile, had to push his way past Blomqvist to earn the final podium position. “My start […] wasn’t perfect,” said the Dutch Verstappen, adding, “I had a good first and second lap and I was able to overtake Tom Blomqvist at an early stage.” With the battle for 2nd – 4th running tight, neither Verstappen nor Blomqvist could force an error from the in-form King, ensuring a static battle as the crossed the line.
Behind the top four, Auer drove a canny race to 5th ahead of Antonio Fuoco (6th), while the battling Nicholas Latifi and Felix Rosenqvist accepted 7th and 8th respectively. Felix Serralles (9th) and Gustavo Menezes (10th) rounded out the points.

Race Two
Ocon added to his victory tally in Race Two – a result made sweeter when title rival Verstappen retired with an alternator failure.

Again from pole, the Frenchman led for the entirety of the event ahead of the battling Fuoco and Blomqvist, while Verstappen initially followed in 4th place.
“Once again, I had a good start,” beamed Ocon, who built a solid gap in the early running to ensure the threat from behind was minimised, controlling the pace thereafter. “It was my goal to pull a gap to my rival Antonio during the first couple of laps and I succeeded,” the winner continued. “After that, I had to stay focussed to avoid making any mistakes. Moreover, I tried to save my tyres.”

Fuoco, meanwhile, admitted that it was quite close to going dreadfully wrong again, as he commented afterward. “I almost stalled at the start, but I was able to hold on to my 2nd place.” Just.
Thereafter, he faced a challenge from Blomqvist, but while it was rarely appeared to be enough to worry the Italian, Fuoco was very aware of the presence of Blomqvist’s yellow-and-red Jagonya Ayam Carlin machine. “During the race, the tyres of my car degraded. I had to be careful to prevent Tom Blomqvist from overtaking me, because he was quicker than me during the second half of the race.” Blomqvist was not quite as sure. “I had no chance to mount a challenge to Antonio, because at this track, overtaking is very difficult.”

Verstappen’s lap eleven retirement promoted Auer to 4th, ahead of King (5th), Jake Dennis (6th), Rosenqvist (7th) and Latifi (8th). Dennis van de Laar took 9th after winning an intense late bate battle with Menezes, who assumed the final point.

Race Three
Ocon completed the rout on Sunday evening with another fine drive, although this victory was no walkover by any stretch. On this occasion, the Prema Powerteam rookie was slightly sluggish away; however he managed to protect his lead into the opening corner, in spite of Blomqvist’s impressive burst off the line…
“This time, my start wasn’t as good as in the two races before…” murmured the eventual victor.

Ocon led regardless; however any potential progress was halted by an opening lap safety car, introduced when several cars came together, including the damaged Serralles, Menezes and Roy Nissany (Fortec).
If he ever appeared to be worried about Blomqvist during the brief neutralisation, then his fears were allayed quickly. It turned out that the Jagonya Ayam Carlin racer’s impressive start was a little too impressive and soon the stewards handed Blomqvist (along with teammate Sean Gelael and EuroInternational’s Santino Ferrucci) drive-through penalties for jumping the lights.

Verstappen and Fuoco also got a touch feisty from the grid too; however the Italian could not pin down Verstappen long enough to solidify the move. “At the start, I almost managed to overtake Max,” said Fuoco. “During the course of the race, he was quicker than me. Then, I rather had to look into my rear-view mirrors to make sure that nobody was able to attack me…”

A status quo followed whereby Ocon led Verstappen who led Fuoco in a close group, separated from the rest of the field. Another safety car period squared things up in the final tour and when the race went green with only a lap remaining, Verstappen made his move.
The Dutch racer relayed: “On the final lap, I simply had to try to overtake Esteban. Unfortunately, I then made a slight driving error and he was able to get past again, but I am also very happy with this second place.” Ocon added: “Max overtook me, but then came off the racing line and I was able to pass him again. It was a good battle between the two of us.”

Fuoco could do nothing about the leading pair in the final moments; however the Formula 3 rookie was pleased with the outcome. “Scoring two podium finishes in one weekend is a nice result, with which I am very happy.”

Behind the podium trio, Dennis took more points for 4th ahead of Rosenqvist. Van de Laar registered 6th place in front of Blomqvist and the improving Tatiana Calderon (8th), while Hector Hurst and Antonio Giovinazzi rounded out the points paying positions.

Ocon’s fightback reinstates his huge lead in the championship over Verstappen. As the series moves back into mainland Europe in a few weeks, Ocon now leads his Dutch rival by 116 points, while the quietly consistent Auer has jumped Blomqvist for 3rd and 4th in the standings.

For now though, it’s all about the championship leader. On this weekend, no one ever seemed close.

{note 1}
Prior to the Zandvoort meeting, Marciello was in such control of the championship ahead of rival Felix Rosenqvist, the Italian could have come to within a few points of wrapping up the title amidst the Dutch dunes.
However a disaster of a round for Marciello saw his lead cut from 72.5 to 9.5 points in the space of three races, effectively reopening the championship at the penultimate meeting at Vallelunga… where Rosenqvist crashed in qualifying, effectively reopening the door for Marciello.

© FIA F3 Media Services.

© FIA F3 Media Services.

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