“FIA F3: Rosenqvist leads Hockenheim practice”

© Formula 3 Euro Series / Thomas Suer

From afar, the difference is quite telling.

Not startling by any stretch of the imagination, but definitely telling.

Held by a mass of downforce and pulled together by 210 horses, the twenty Formula 3 runners parading around the Hockenheimring pull toward the Sachskurve, hugging the index of the turn. It looks almost too easy at times.

They are still ragged on the approach – only to be expected of course. Exiting Mobil 1, the various Dallara’s slingshot across the bow of the track; riding the run-off area, before the aerodynamics kick in, pulling the cars toward the road.

The cogs of these machines are in full flow. They are graceful in their motion, yet the violence within is impressive.
As each car exits the Sachskurve, the power goes down quickly and easily and within the briefest of moments, they are already in the double-apex Südkurve and turning toward the start / finish straight.

It just seems so effortless, unless of course, you are struggling and this is where the difference lies. Those who run without confidence are exposed through the final turns.
Upon entry at Mobil 1, the machine rickets onto the rumble strip, instantly losing balance and pace, before ambling back toward the racing line. It really does not look like a pleasant experience. Through the Sachskurve, there is little in the way grip, as the drivers bleed toward the middle of the track. There is no saving the weekend from here.

Of the twenty, it is Mücke Motorsport’s Felix Rosenqvist who commands the time sheets at the end of practice, only 0.163 seconds ahead of Carlin Motorsport’s Carlos Sainz Jr, while Raffaele Marciello (Prema Powerteam) and Tom Blomqvist (ma-con) linger close in the sheets.

Realistically, it’s close through out much of the field. Only three-quarters of-a-second cover the top fifteen, with the final five falling foul of the one-second gap. This will be frantic.

2012 FIA European Formula 3 Championship (Rd 10, Free Practice)
Pos Driver                Team                        Time / Gap
 1. Felix Rosenqvist      Mücke Motorsport-Mercedes   1:34.735
 2. Carlos Sainz Jr       Carlin-Volkswagen             +0.163
 3. Raffaele Marciello    Prema Powerteam-Mercedes      +0.225
 4. Tom Blomqvist         ma-con-Volkswagen             +0.277
 5. Alex Lynn             Fortec-Mercedes               +0.313
 6. Daniel Juncadella     Prema Powerteam-Mercedes      +0.382
 7. William Buller        Carlin-Volkswagen             +0.500
 8. Emil Bernstorff       ma-con-Volkswagen             +0.535
 9. Lucas Auer            van Amersfoort-Volkswagen     +0.626
10. Sven Muller           Prema Powerteam-Mercedes      +0.634
11. Felix Serralles       Fortec-Mercedes               +0.659
12. Pipo Derani           Fortec-Mercedes               +0.680
13. Pascal Wehrlein       Mücke Motorsport-Mercedes     +0.684
14. Felipe Nasr           Carlin-Volkswagen             +0.743
15. Michael Lewis         Prema Powerteam-Mercedes      +0.762
16. Lucas Wolf            URD Rennsport-Mercedes        +1.083
17. Dennis van der Laar   van Amersfoort-Volkswagen     +1.086
18. Andrea Roda           Jo Zeller-Mercedes            +1.368
19. Sandro Zeller         Jo Zeller-Mercedes            +1.396
20. Luis Sá Silva         Angola Racing-Mercedes        +1.893

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