Carlos Sainz Jr grabbed his first British Formula 3 victory in bizarre circumstances at the legendary Monza circuit on Saturday.
The Spaniard was originally to start the race 2nd alongside poleman Felix Serralles; however increasing rain on the parade lap prompted the entire field to pit, rather than take to the grid.
Sainz Jr emerged from his pitbox at the head of the pack and assumed an easy lead as the lights at the end of the pitlane shown green.
The Carlin racer initially had Double R’s Fahmi Ilyas on his tail, but that did not last. With each tour, Sainz Jr increased his lead substantially, eventually growing to 6.6 seconds when Ilyas dropped behind Pipo Derani (Fortec) on the fifth lap.
Undeterred, Sainz Jr extended his gap to ten seconds come the flag; although the briefest of off’s on lap four kept his concentration in check. Naturally the Spaniard was delighted with his day’s running:
“It’s always special to take your first win in a series, especially as I said before at a historic circuit like Monza. There was very light rain at the start and we thought we might have to stop for wet tyres but then it started to rain more on the green flag lap which made conditions really tricky. The team did a great job on the pit stop; it was perfect and got me out of the pit lane first.
“From the start I was focusing on looking after the tyres and being patient with them and building out a gap little by little. I had one scary moment on lap 4, but with so many breaking points it is easy to make a mistake here. To score my first F3 win in these conditions feels really great.”
It was also a stellar race for Derani, who left the pits a distant 8th following his change to wet Cooper tyres. A charging first lap gave the Brazilian 5th spot, before moves on Nick McBride (T-Sport, lap 2), Pietro Fantin (Carlin, lap 3) and Ilyas gave him a well-deserved runner-up spot.
Jazeman Jaafar made it two Carlin’s on the podium after fighting his way up from 7th to 3rd by mid-distance.
Fortec’s Hannes van Asseldonk secured 4th after taking the alternate start in 12th, while Jack Harvey (Carlin) assumed 5th despite a sluggish stop (dropping him to 13th).
Both battled their way up the order remarkably well, only for Harvey to be handed a 10-second penalty post-race for jumping a chicane. The Englishman would be classified 7th following the decision by the race stewards.
Harvey’s penalty would promote Alex Lynn (Fortec) into the top five. The 18-year-old garnered some luck when he tripped across the gravel at the Parabolica just prior to the halfway point – he survived, although he fell to 10th, but immediately began to scythe through the field with guile and expertise.
Fantin was one of the few to lose spots amidst the action. Despite getting out of the pits in 3rd, the Brazilian would eventually fall to 6th come the flag. Fantin’s mid-race battle with Carlin teammate Harry Tincknell would result in retirement for the latter, when a heavy hit over one of Monza’s high kerbs at the Lesmo’s damaged his suspension beyond reason.
McBride also fell through the field in the tough and tricky conditions, taking 8th just ahead of Ilyas and Serralles.
Originally on pole, Felix Serralles (Fortec) lined up 10th following a disastrous stop; however the winner in Oulton Park was not to repeat that surprise in Race One, as the Puerto Rican became a mere dot in the mirrors of his opponents.
It was another difficult race for Double R’s Geoff Uhrhane, who endured a long stop due to a stuck rear wheel. The Australian did not recover and finished the day 12th.
In the National Class, Spike Goddard led Duvashen Padayachee each lap around; however determined to grab his first 2012 victory, Padayachee made a move to pass at the second chicane on the final lap, only for the pair to collide as Goddard reasserted his position.
Goddard continued, but Padayachee slammed the barriers, gifting Goddard his fourth National Class victory.
2012 British F3 Round of Monza (Rd 2, Race 1, 15 laps) Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Carlos Sainz Jr Carlin Dallara-VW 30m32.179s 2. Pipo Derani Fortec Dallara-Merc + 9.889s 3. Jazeman Jaafar Carlin Dallara-VW + 12.509s 4. Hannes van Asseldonk Fortec Dallara-Merc + 17.418s 5. Alex Lynn Fortec Dallara-Merc + 18.892s 6. Pietro Fantin Carlin Dallara-VW + 20.575s 7. Jack Harvey Carlin Dallara-VW + 28.608s* 8. Nick McBride T-Sport Dallara-Nissan + 34.042s 9. Fahmi Ilyas Double R Dallara-Merc + 43.095s 10. Felix Serralles Fortec Dallara-Merc + 1m01.445s 11. Spike Goddard T-Sport Dallara-Mugen* + 1m48.060s 12. Geoff Uhrhane Double R Dallara-Merc + 3 laps Retirements: Duvashen Padayachee Double R Dallara-Mugen* 14 laps Harry Tincknell Carlin Dallara-VW 11 laps Italics = National Class *10-second post-race penalty for skipping a chicane. ^Notes compiled from live updates and team releases.