Ferrari Development Academy driver Raffaele Marciello cruised to his fourth FIA European Formula 3 victory of the season at the Hockenheimring this morning, despite spinning in torrential rain.
The Italian raced virtually unchallenged for the distance, eventually winning by 14.8 seconds in 19 laps after losing four seconds on the tenth tour.
Behind Marciello, Fortec’s Felix Serralles and EuroInternational’s Tom Blomqvist fought a tense battle for the other podium places, with the former emerging on top.
On a frantic opening lap, shrouded in hanging spray, Marciello pulled a 5.1s lead from the pack, as cars assorted positions, banged wheels and spun in the background.
Amidst the gaggle, spins that took both Lucas Auer and Alex Lynn out of contention, with Auer looping around 360° exiting the second turn (dropping to 9th), while Lynn caught a slick white line through Mercedes corner (rejoining 22nd).
All of this played into Marciello’s hands. “Alex had a battle with Lucas [on the first lap], so they lost time, but the car was immediately fast. I was not pushing very hard.”
Marciello continued to extend his lead by one second per lap, until the tenth lap, when – feeling adventurous – the Prema Powerteam racer ran onto the wet green patch on the exit of the NordKurve, spinning him around.
His 14.4s advantage, was cut, but only by 3.7s thanks mostly to quick thinking as his Mercedes-powered machine flung around. “I was thinking the green part was a bit dry and it was wet and I spun,” noted the Italian. He continued, “I was very far away (ahead) and I was able to continue to victory. I said a bad word, but was lucky because the wall is very close. I dropped the engine when I went off and released the clutch, let the engine go and that was it.”
There was still the race of the race to go and despite orders from his pitwall not to overdo it, Marciello began pushing once again, extending his final advantage to 14.8s at the flag, although he did lift off somewhat in the final three tours. “It’s a victory. We were fast yesterday, so for me it is the same whether in the dry or wet, but in the wet our car is very fast.”
It’s a big result that gives the Italian a 57.5 point lead in the standings, with another start from pole position coming later today, yet Marciello still talks down the championship at this early stage. “It’s a very long championship and tomorrow I’m starting 10th, so it’s better to take the maximum points this morning now and this afternoon, but I hope tomorrow I can overtake some cars and get some good points.”
For Serralles, the Auer / Lynn mishap played perfectly into his hands. Starting 5th, the Puerto Rican had risen to 2nd by the opening corner, only to be re-passed by front row man Lynn at the Hairpin.
With Blomqvist, Harry Tincknell and Sven Müller in their mirrors, Serralles continued to wheel-to-wheel with Lynn, until the Englishman lost his Prema machine, clearing the way for Serralles.
The 20-year-old was then chased down for the duration by Blomqvist – both whom had broken away from the Tincknell / Müller fight – however Serralles held the EuroInternational racer at bay. “I saw Tom through the whole race, but had to race very strategically. I knew where he was quicker and where I was quicker, so I just had to be very careful to get a good run out of the corner, so that he wouldn’t get a tow. It was a good, thinking race.”
There was a touch of relief in Serralles after the race. A difficult opening couple of rounds had left the Puerto Rican well down the points order. “Marciello was unbelievably fast and Blomqvist kept putting the pressure on. In the end, from the first two rounds, having such a bad start to the season and finally getting a podium, I think we are a bit on in the top five. It‘s a very good result.”
He then added, “Since Fortec has run the British championship for many years, we took a bit to get used to the tyres, but I think now that we finally have the tyres situation correct, I think everything is going in the right direction.”
Relief also crossed Blomqvist. The EuroInternational racer narrowly avoided the spinning Auer on the opening tour and then again came close to clattering Lynn later on the lap as he spun. It was more than enough to keep his wits afloat: “I was a little bit fortunate at the start of the race, with two spins in front – I had to dodge them, so that was a bit tricky and lost a bit of time. There was a bit of wheel bashing on the first lap, so that was quite interesting, but I don’t know what happened behind. From our side of things, it was plain sailing.”
With two of the favourites removed from the running, Blomqvist saw an opportunity for the runner-up spot, but could do nothing to force a way by Serralles.
“At the beginning of the race, I thought I was a little bit quicker than Felix – it was pretty difficult to find a way by without him making a mistake. He picked up the pace a little bit, so to get close enough to actually make a move was a bit difficult,” said the son of Stig. He added, “I followed him home and tried to keep it on the black stuff. It’s a good bunch of points, so happy with the result for sure.”
Behind them, Muller grabbed 4th from Tincknell on lap 7 after pressing the Englishman for some time, while Josh Hill persevered to keep a hold of 6th spot ahead of Lucas Auer. Running 8th was Felix Rosenqvist, who had a scary moment on the twelfth tour, when he lost control at the hairpin, coming close to wiping out Will Buller (9th).
Daniil Kvyat rounded out the top ten in his first F3 race; however as he is not registered for the championship, the Russian did not claim the point. That went to Jordan King who took 11th place, following a late move on Antonio Giovinazzi.
2013 FIA European F3 Championship (Rd 3, Race 1; 19 laps) Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Raffaele Marciello Prema Dallara-Merc 36m00.250s 2. Felix Serralles Fortec Dallara-Merc + 14.834s 3. Tom Blomqvist Eurointernational Dallara-Merc + 15.719s 4. Sven Muller Ma-con Dallara-VW + 20.088s 5. Harry Tincknell Carlin Dallara-VW + 27.135s 6. Josh Hill Fortec Dallara-Merc + 29.504s 7. Lucas Auer Prema Dallara-Merc + 32.245s 8. Felix Rosenqvist Mucke Dallara-Merc + 32.875s 9. Will Buller T-Sport Dallara-Nissan + 36.821s 10. Daniil Kvyat Carlin Dallara-VW + 44.211s 11. Jordan King Carlin Dallara-VW + 47.010s 12. Antonio Giovinazzi Double R Dallara-Merc + 54.209s 13. Dennis van de Laar Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW + 57.214s 14. Pipo Derani Fortec Dallara-Merc + 58.256s 15. Alex Lynn Prema Dallara-Merc + 59.102s 16. Jann Mardenborough Carlin Dallara-VW + +1m02.361s 17. Mitchell Gilbert Mucke Dallara-Merc + +1m06.467s 18. Lucas Wolf URD Dallara-Merc + +1m15.784s 19. Mans Grenhagen Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW + +1m25.312s 20. Ed Jones Fortec Dallara-Merc + +1m25.809s 21. Sean Gelael Double R Dallara-Merc + +1m32.525s 22. Michael Lewis Mucke Dallara-Merc + +1m33.300s 23. Nicholas Latifi Carlin Dallara-VW + +1m41.660s 24. Roy Nissany Mucke Dallara-Merc + +1m42.873s 25. Andre Rudersdorf Ma-con Dallara-VW + 1 lap 26. Tatiana Calderon Double R Dallara-Merc + 1 lap 27. Spike Goddard T-Sport Dallara-Nissan + 1 lap Retirements: Sandro Zeller Zeller Dallara-Merc 7 laps Eddie Cheever Prema Dallara-Merc 18 laps
2013 FIA European Championship points standings (Rd 3, Race 1) Pos Driver Points 1. Raffaele Marciello 131.5 2. Felix Rosenqvist 74 3. Harry Tincknell 73 4. Lucas Auer 63 5. Alex Lynn 60.5 6. Pascal Wehrlein 49 7. Felix Serralles 48 8. Tom Blomqvist 41.5 9. Will Buller 35 10. Josh Hill 18 Pos Team Points 1. Prema Powerteam 200 2. Mucke 135 3. Carlin 108 4. Fortec 76 5. ThreeBond with T-Sport 51