Mücke Motorsport’s Pascal Wehrlein claimed his first Formula 3 victory of the season with a stellar display at a very wet Monza this morning.
In a race that started – and ended – under safety car conditions, the German racer led Prema Powerteam rival Raffaele Marciello home across the line
EuroInternational’s Tom Blomqvist earned his first F3 podium finish with a top line drive.
So wet were the conditions that a start under the safety was a necessity. For four laps, the field of thirty petered slowly around the historic Monza circuit, while the mist and rain clung to the trees and hung in the air.
Indeed Lucas Auer spinning on a puddle on the approach to the Rettifilo chicane and into the barriers on the fourth lap at safety car speeds made the decision to call in Maserati somewhat dubious.
Auer was out. Now it was down to twenty-nine.
With the race proper under way, it temporarily unravelled for Wehrlein. Pushing to stay ahead of Marciello, the DTM-bound racer ran wide at the second of the Lesmo’s on the fifth lap, allowing Marciello to slip ahead.
Skipping over the gravel and back onto the circuit, Wehrlein stayed ahead of Blomqvist, but knew it was a close call. “In the first lap I did a mistake and thought ‘this can’t be true’ and I had a good start and did the mistake. I really wanted to push and get the gap. You shout in the helmet and you’re very angry, but you have to control yourself and I think I did that very well.”
Marciello initially drew a two-second gap over Wehrlein, but sensing a victory, the German racer cut the gap to his Italian rival. Where Blomqvist fell away, Wehrlein pushed – the gap falling with each tour – 1.9s on lap six, then 1.4s on lap eight. At the tenth time around, it was only eight-tenths…
The crucial change came on lap eleven. A spin exiting the second Lesmo by Spike Goddard left him manoeuvring precariously to regain the road just as Marciello and Wehrlein chanced upon him.
Delayed by the wandering T-Sport racer, Marciello lifted off giving Wehrlein enough room to slip through and into the lead. It would decide the race in Wehrlein’s favour. “I was very quick in the race and I could follow Raffaele very well and then in the end I overtook him. I think there was someone in front of Raffaele who blocked him a bit. I did a good movement and won the race.”
He added, “I found at the beginning it was all very well in the car. Everyone could see it in the end when I took Raffaele that there was good pace and already after one lap I had a big gap, so I’m really happy. That’s a good exit from Formula 3.”
Marciello took 2nd and was relatively comfortable in the knowledge that Wehrlein will not be in contention for the rest of the season. “The race was very hard and easy to make a mistake and for that reason, it is important to take the points and 2nd position is good and I am happy. We need to work a little bit with the car to win again this afternoon.”
Reflecting upon the loss of the lead, Marciello was not overly disappointed, realising the bigger picture at work. “Spike blocked me a bit, but it’s OK – I didn’t fight with Pascal, because he is doing DTM, so it is better to not crash. He blocked me a bit, but Pascal was very fast.”
Blomqvist fell away in 3rd place, but was rarely challenged by the 4th placed man Felix Rosenqvist (Mücke Motorsport). Despite acknowledgement that he had yet to gel with his Mercedes-powered Dallara, the son of Stig appeared relatively happy with the result. “It was pretty tricky out there in the conditions, especially with the visibility and the spray from two cars. I lost a bit early on and it was very slippery for me, but I persevered to bring the car home.”
Elaborating upon any changes to the car, Blomqvist responded, “There were small adjustments for the weather conditions; I think it helped us out a bit. Had it been dry, we would have struggled a little bit more,” said the 19-year-old.
He added, “It was the first time the team ran the car in the wet, so it was a learning experience for us all. I haven’t been here in the wet, let alone the dry before this weekend. Just got to get to grips and try and improve for the third race, because there’s no doubt it will be very wet.”
The safety car returned to the track following Wehrlein’s move for the lead due to dramatic accident in the Rettifilo chicane.
In a battle for 8th position, Mans Grenhagen completely missed his braking point, rammed the rear of Jordan King launching the former into the air. Before coming down, the Swede landed on the rear of Will Buller’s T-Sport machine, taking the English man out and sending Grenhagen into a series of very scary rolls.
Despite the severity of the incident, all three emerged safely from their torn machines; however Grenhagen’s van Amersfoort car was damaged to such an extent, he will be unable to take part in the final race of the weekend.
With the field static for the final few tours, Rosenqvist took some solace with a decent 4th, helped by a move on Carlin’s Harry Tincknell on lap seven, while Alex Lynn (Prema) slipped by Buller one lap before the latter was taken out.
Felix Serralles and Josh Hill enjoyed solid races to come home 7th and 8th – especially good for Hill, who had never driven an F3 car in wet conditions prior to this race, on a track he had never visited before last week.
Pipo Derani (Fortec) came home 9th but was later penalised for driving without a rear light and ignoring warning flags – he dropped to 19th, promoting Sven Muller to 10th, while Dennis van der Laar took one point for bringing his van Amersfoort machine to the flag in 10th.
2013 FIA European Formula 3 Championship (Rd 1, Race 2, 14 laps) Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Pascal Wehrlein Mucke Dallara-Merc 37m18.470s 2. Raffaelle Marciello Prema Dallara-Merc + 2.569s 3. Tom Blomqvist Eurointernational Dallara-Merc + 3.018s 4. Felix Rosenqvist Mucke Dallara-Merc + 5.160s 5. Harry Tincknell Carlin Dallara-VW + 6.964s 6. Alex Lynn Prema Dallara-Merc + 7.888s 7. Felix Serralles Fortec Dallara-Merc + 8.804s 8. Josh Hill Fortec Dallara-Merc + 9.279s 9. Sven Muller Ma-con Dallara-VW + 10.584s 10. Dennis van de Laar Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW + 11.095s 11. Jann Mardenborough Carlin Dallara-VW + 12.842s 12. Antonio Giovinazzi Double R Dallara-Merc + 13.273s 13. Eddie Cheever Prema Dallara-Merc + 15.346s 14. Andre Rudersdorf Ma-con Dallara-VW + 15.752s 15. Nicholas Latifi Carlin Dallara-VW + 16.496s 16. Sean Gelael Double R Dallara-Merc + 17.106s 17. Roy Nissany Mucke Dallara-Merc + 17.747s 18. Lucas Wolf URD Dallara-Merc + 18.791s 19. Pipo Derani* Fortec Dallara-Merc + 10.140s 20. Gary Thompson Ferraris Dallara-Merc + 20.600s 21. Sandro Zeller Zeller Dallara-Merc + 21.510s 22. Dmitry Suranovich Fortec Dallara-Merc + 22.014s 23. Tatiana Calderon Double R Dallara-Merc + 24.581s 24. Spike Goddard T-Sport Dallara-Nissan + 1 lap Retirements: Will Buller T-Sport Dallara-Nissan 11 laps Jordan King Carlin Dallara-VW 11 laps Mans Grenhagen Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW 11 laps Mitchell Gilbert Mucke Dallara-Merc 11 laps Michela Cerruti Ferraris Dallara-Merc 8 laps Lucas Auer Prema Dallara-Merc 3 laps
Pipo Derani penalised 10-seconds for ignoring a warning flag.
2013 FIA European F3 championship (Rd 1, Race 2) Pos Driver Points 1. Raffaele Marciello Prema Dallara-Merc 43 2. Pascal Wehrlein Mucke Dallara-Merc 40 3. Harry Tincknell Carlin Dallara-VW 20 4. Lucas Auer Prema Dallara-Merc 18 5. Tom Blomqvist Eurointernational Dallara-Merc 15 6. Felix Serralles Fortec Dallara-Merc 14 7. Will Buller T-Sport Dallara-Nissan 12 8. Felix Rosenqvist Prema Dallara-Merc 12 9. Alex Lynn Prema Dallara-Merc 12 10. Jordan King Carlin Dallara-VW 6