Raffaele Marciello made it two wins out of two at the third round of the FIA European Formula 3 Championship this evening.
The Prema Powerteam racer headed Fortec’s Josh Hill home, while Tom Blomqvist (EuroInternational) took another 3rd place spot.
As with this morning’s opener, the Italian led from start to finish in a race that never saw him troubled from behind; however unlike the earlier race, this was clear, dry run, interrupted briefly by a brief safety car period.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for Marciello. In pulling away from the squabbling pack, the Italian racer punished his Hankook tyres hard, causing grip to fall away in the latter stages – his tyres were not helped by Marciello’s own actions under the caution period. “When the safety car came out, I didn’t have a good warm-up – the temp was very hot and I didn’t zigzag,” said the points leader.
He added, “I had slight problems with the tyres with too much consumption, therefore, it wasn’t as easy as this morning. I think it was because the track provided much grip. It was difficult for that reason,” however Marciello reaffirmed, “like this morning, it is a victory. I was in front and pushing every lap, so no problem for me.”
Despite best Marciello’s efforts, it was Hill who garnered plenty of attention following his near race long battle for the runner-up spot with Blomqvist, Lucas Auer and Felix Serralles. Starting 6th, the Englishman passed Sven Muller on the opening lap, before sweeping passed Serralles at the lap four restart. From there, Hill pressed the Blomqvist / Auer pairing, stalking both as he looked for a way through.
It came eventually on lap ten as Hill explains: “Tom was slow into the stadium which let Lucas try to attack him and they both went wide and I nipped up the inside on exit. To be honest, I was a little bit lucky with my positioning. I was far enough back to capitalise on it and not too close to get balked by them.”
The gap gave Hill an opportunity, but it was a close run thing, “It was very, very tight and lucky to get away with it, but I had seen that Tom had been struggling for a long time to hold off Lucas. I was catching Lucas but then having to drop back because of the aero and I saw him run wide and thought ‘this is going to be my only chance’. He seldom makes mistakes; hardly ever makes mistakes in Formula 3.”
Blomqvist was hoping Hill’s presence would have offered up a rather different result: “I saw [Hill] was quite close to Lucas and was hoping that they would battle it out and get a bit of a break, but it didn’t happen and when I made my mistake, he was right there to capitalise on it, so fair play to him.”
In the end, Hill ended up playing a slightly different hand. “I put myself into a position where I was behind Lucas and Tom and looking to find a way past and they started fighting,” noted the Fortec driver before adding, “The fact that they both went wide and stayed on the Astroturf for a long time allowed me to slip passed.
“It was all planned up until the apex of the stadium corner at which point I decide just to go right and Lucas saw me, so he didn’t come across me too quickly, but Tom was a bit close. He initially did come across and I was nearly on the grass – it was a little bit touch and go, but I think with the speed I was carrying, that sort of move you just have to commit to – it can’t be half-hearted.”
Although Hill did not strictly run away from Blomqvist, he was still rather comfortable come the flag – Blomqvist still had Auer to deal with; however the Austrian Auer could not break the EuroInternational racer. Serralles, meanwhile, fell away toward the end of the race, but maintained his 5th place – another positive run for the Puerto Rican.
Dennis van de Laar, too, looked racey as the laps ticked over, but it was too little, too late to press Serralles into an error and besides, the Dutch racer was busy defending against a resurgent Alex Lynn.
Van de Laar may have been delighted to come away with 6th place, but for Lynn, it was a disappointment not helped by dropping to 9th at the start. Lynn would eventually take Felix Rosenqvist (lap 5) and Sven Muller (lap 11) to regain his starting position, but the Briton is sure to have wanted more than that.
Muller held onto 8th to secure his best Formula 3 finish, while Jordan King slipped by Rosenqvist to take 9th; the Swede would end the race with an unspectacular 10th place – not the result of a potential title challenger.
As noted earlier, the race was not without incident and the opening tour had plenty of them. Indeed Hill was close to being taken out by a somewhat overzealous Sven Muller on the approach to the hairpin – the latter of the pair arrived in a light mist of tyre smoke as the pack condensed around him.
However Antonio Giovinazzi was less circumspect on his approach – the Italian flew into the corner, seemingly with little tension on his brakes, pitching into Spike Goddard, before being launched over Lucas Wolf and into the side of Jann Mardenborough.
Wolf and Goddard continued, although the T-Sport racer required a pitstop; however Mardenborough’s day was done there and then. The incident required a safety car, which stayed out for three laps.
Although Marciello dominated, a few will remember Hill’s performance today in what might be looked upon as a coming-of-age performance. “I didn’t expect to be [on the podium] this early in the season – I was expecting to be challenging for podiums by the end of the season, but to get one this early is nice. We didn’t get any pre-season tests apart from the official tests, so it is really good to be here this early.”
2013 FIA European F3 Championship (Rd 3, Race 2; 21 laps) Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Raffaele Marciello Prema Dallara-Merc 35m11.372s 2. Josh Hill Fortec Dallara-Merc + 8.389s 3. Tom Blomqvist EuroInternational Dallara-VW + 10.395s 4. Lucas Auer Prema Dallara-Merc + 11.077s 5. Felix Serralles Prema Dallara-Merc + 12.784s 6. Dennis van de Laar Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW + 15.687s 7. Alex Lynn Prema Dallara-Merc + 16.166s 8. Sven Muller Ma-con Dallara-VW + 19.692s 9. Jordan King Carlin Dallara-VW + 20.271s 10. Felix Rosenqvist Mucke Dallara-Merc + 21.213s 11. Will Buller T-Sport Dallara-Nissan + 21.509s 12. Daniil Kvyat Carlin Dallara-VW + 24.486s 13. Harry Tincknell Carlin Dallara-VW + 25.330s 14. Pipo Derani Fortec Dallara-Merc + 28.913s 15. Mitchell Gilbert Mucke Dallara-Merc + 33.079s 16. Roy Nissany Mucke Dallara-Merc + 33.588s 17. Mans Grenhagen Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW + 36.652s 18. Lucas Wolf URD Dallara-Merc + 36.985s 19. Eddie Cheever Prema Dallara-Merc + 38.079s 20. Andre Rudersdorf Ma-con Dallara-VW + 38.560s 21. Michael Lewis Prema Dallara-Merc + 40.525s 22. Nicholas Latifi Carlin Dallara-VW + 41.713s 23. Ed Jones Fortec Dallara-Merc + 44.831s 24. Spike Goddard T-Sport Dallara-Nissan + 48.758s 25. Sandro Zeller Zeller Dallara-Merc + 49.838s 26. Tatiana Calderon Double R Dallara-Merc + 52.910s 27. Sean Gelael Double R Dallara-Merc + 1m12.424s Retirements: Antonio Giovinazzi Double R Dallara-Merc 0 laps Jann Mardenborough Carlin Dallara-VW 0 laps
2013 FIA European Formula 3 Championship (Rd 3, Race 2) Pos Driver Points 1. Raffaele Marciello 156.5 2. Felix Rosenqvist 75 3. Lucas Auer 75 4. Harry Tincknell 73 5. Alex Lynn 66.5 6. Felix Serralles 58 7. Tom Blomqvist 56.5 8. Pascal Wehrlein 49 9. Josh Hill 36 10. Will Buller 35 Pos Team Points 1. Prema Powerteam 235 2. Mucke 139 3. Carlin 115 4. Fortec 91 5. EuroInternational 66