In jubilant scenes, Prema Powerteam’s Sven Müller claimed his first Formula 3 race at the Hockenheimring today.
The 20-year-old from Mainz grabbed the lead from rookie Lucas Wolf with four tours remaining, pulling a 1.2 second gap come the flag to secure a precious success.
A late move gave Raffaele Marciello the runner-up spot in the race, while Wolf ended the afternoon 3rd to claim his first podium in Formula 3. Lucas Auer ended the day with a well-received 4th place.
This victory comes on the back of some impressive results for Müller, whose confidence has taken a huge upturn in recent months.
Indeed since the halfway point in the season, the Prema Powerteam racer has secured three 2nd places and four other point scoring results – a run of form that has seen the rookie climb to 6th in the standings, some12.5 points clear of next man Tom Blomqvist.
For Müller, an attacking start certainly helped, although he probably didn’t bank on Marciello being equally as aggressive.
Starting 5th, Müller jumped to 3rd off the line, only to lose a spot to Marciello on the second tour after running wide come the end of the Parabolika hairpin Müller would retake Marciello through the Parabolika bend a couple of tours later; this time he would secure the position.
Soon Auer would falter under the pressure of Müller. The Austrian – who has shown impressively in his debut Euro Series weekend – held both Müller and Marciello at bay for several laps, while also weighing up the race lead. It would prove too much; on lap seven, Auer cracked, allowing the chasing pair through.
It would not be too before Wolf too would drop backward. The URD Rennsport racer raised eyebrows with his composure up front, but several laps pushing his Hancook tyres beyond their limit would eventually take their toll, ensuring both Müller and Marciello safe passage through on laps ten and twelve respectively.
Auer also pushed the 18-year-old, but he fell short of laps, as Wolf defended bravely.
Did Müller notice? Not a chance. He was busy watching his own mirrors, looking out for a tricky Marciello; yet for all his poise, the Italian knew he could not afford to make a mistake – after all a championship is on the line.
This allowed a form of stalemate to develop, whereby Marciello faintly attacked, but Müller held his ground, without necessarily having to dig too deep and as the final laps ticked over, the gap between the pair breached 1.5 seconds only once, ensuring Müller of his first win.
For Marciello, the runner-up spot was important, but the retirement of his chief rival Daniel Juncadella could be far bigger factor.
The Spaniard retired with an engine problem from the opening day’s event, only to be hit with a similar issue just prior to the second race. Indeed, the Prema Powerteam engineers thought they had located and fixed the problem, only for Marciello’s engine to sound sick and unresponsive during his lap to the grid.
Worried faces mixed in with frantic bodies in the pit lane said everything that needed to be said. Juncadella’s problem was terminal – after the race, the team confirmed that they were not only changing the engine prior to the final event, but also everything connected to it. A long night ahead for the Prema engineers…
Behind the leading four, Will Buller took a difficult 5th ahead of Blomqvist. A poor getaway by the Northern Irish man caused him to drop two places off the line courtesy of the Müller / Marciello duo.
From there, Buller held Blomqvist’s charge at bay and although the gap between the pair was rarely large, it remained small enough to keep both on their toes.
Pipo Derani led home a far more interesting battle in 7th place. The Brazilian presided over a gaggle including Mücke Motorsport duo Pascal Wehrlein and Felix Rosenqvist (8th and 9th respectively), while Felipe Nasr (Carlin, 10th) and Emil Bernstorff (ma-con Motorsport, 11th) also ran close.
There may well have been more to it had Michael Lewis not run into problems in the final four laps, demoting him from 8th to 14th by the flag.
Meanwhile, the group scraped and scratched for position; passed and repassed until the order finally settled on the penultimate tour, ensuring Derani emerged ahead.
Lewis’ problems promoted Alex (Fortec) and Carlos Sainz Jr (Carlin) to 12th and 13th. Both had quietly climbed the order (Sainz Jr had started last !!), but in such a short event, making the points places was always going to be tough.
Dennis van der Laar’s race delivered 15th, ahead of Sandro Zeller (Jo Zeller Racing) Luis Sa Silva (Angola Racing) and Andrea Roda (Jo Zeller racing). Felix Serralles finished one lap off the lead lap, thanks to a stalled engine on the grid.
2012 F3 Euro Series (Rd 8; Race 2) Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Sven Muller Prema Dallara-Merc 20m53.625s (13 laps) 2. Raffaelle Marciello Prema Dallara-Merc + 1.220s 3. Lucas Wolf URD Dallara-Merc + 2.815s 4. Lucas Auer Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW + 3.626s 5. Will Buller Carlin Dallara-VW + 6.176s 6. Tom Blomqvist Ma-con Dallara-VW + 6.883s 7. Pipo Derani Fortec Dallara-Merc + 8.595s 8. Pascal Wehrlein Mucke Dallara-Merc + 8.901s 9. Felix Rosenqvist Mucke Dallara-Merc + 9.978s 10. Felipe Nasr Carlin Dallara-VW + 11.211s 11. Emil Bernstorff Ma-con Dallara-VW + 11.892s 12. Alex Lynn Fortec Dallara-Merc + 12.426s 13. Carlos Sainz Jr Carlin Dallara-VW + 13.717s 14. Michael Lewis Prema Dallara-Merc + 17.923s 15. Dennis van de Laar Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW + 18.338s 16. Sandro Zeller Zeller Dallara-Merc + 22.952s 17. Luis Sa Silva Angola Dallara-Merc + 23.768s 18. Andrea Roda Zeller Dallara-Merc + 26.670s 19. Felix Serralles Fortec Dallara-Merc + 1 lap Retirements: Daniel Juncadella Prema Dallara-Merc +11 laps
2012 Formula 3 Euro Series (Rd 8; Race 2) Pos Driver Points 1. Daniel Juncadella 225 2. Raffaele Marciello 211.5 3. Pascal Wehrlein 211 4. Felix Rosenqvist 187.5 5. William Buller 182.5 6. Sven Muller 160 7. Tom Blomqvist 147.5 8. Michael Lewis 123 9. Carlos Sainz Jr 110 10. Emil Bernstorff 85