It doesn’t take too long for the plumes to disperse unevenly in the warm German air at the Norisring.
This simple street circuit, surrounding a sinister house amidst a dark history, forms a tense competitive layout.
It’s fast. With only five real corners and a couple of straights, there appears to be not too much to this track.
At approximately 49-50 seconds per lap, the gap in the field is small indeed. The margin for error is barely present – the slightest of mistakes will lead to a significant loss of ground – or worse.
Beyond that, difficulties can eat away at confidence. Through the chicane leading onto the back straight, the differences in confidence can be very telling. On entry, those with daring pitch their Dallara’s hard to the right, merely shadowing the barrier as they do so, before releasing onto a short chute to the left-handed exit.
The decisive ones run close to the Armco, holding speed and gaining time, but running risk of clouting the outer wall. Those who are tentative or nervous in their approach are, at best, a nuisance and at worse crash fodder – an accident waiting to happen.
Zandvoort Masters winner Felix Rosenqvist headed the firs practice session and of Raffaele Marciello, Alex Lynn and Dennis van de Laar.
The slippery nature of the circuit almost caught several drivers unaware, as the exits of each turn proved a wayward adventure. Only Jann Mardenborough suffered a spin of any consequence at the exit of the chicane; however the Briton piton for a brief check up before returning to the track.
Over at the first turn, drivers appear to spend an inordinate amount of time either outbraking themselves and allowing their tyres and brakes to screech, while others meekly approach the tight hairpin, braking early and turning in limply.
In a sense, one can see racing minds developing and shaping respective weekends. Some spend their practice taking a tight line into the bend, while hugging the high kerb and closing off any chance of a rearguard attack; however this merely serves to punish ones exit.
Alternatively, a driver might take a wider, carrying more speed through the turn, although the risk of a being taken is greater, especially for those who see themselves as opportunists.
Daniil Kvyat made the most of the second session, topping the sheets just 0.001s clear of Carlin teammate harry Tincknell. Raffaele Marciello – who missed the opening 20 minutes due to complex setup changes – ended the practice in 3rd spot ahead of Tom Blomqvist, Sven Muller and Jordan King. Guest driver Alexander Sims made it to 7th spot for T-Sport in the first of two outings for the team.
The likes of Sven Muller and Lucas Wolf appears to specialise to outbraking the hairpin, as grip refuses to generate in the Hankook tyres. Meanwhile Andre Rudersdorf seems to make an art form of going off, having taken to the run off six times during FP2.
Alas, there are some whose names will now drop from the F3 conversation. Josh Hill quit motorsport for a music career during the week, Will Buller has stepped out of the European championship to concentrate on the British Series and some World Series by Renault rounds, while Mans Grenhagen is a no show for van Amersfoort having run into some funding difficulties.
Realistically there is no right way to tackle the Norisring – just the quick way and such is the nature of this bumpy animal that may be totally driver dependent.
2013 FIA European F3 championship (Rd 6, Free Practice 1) Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap Laps 1. Felix Rosenqvist Mucke Dallara-Merc 49.549s 33 2. Raffaele Marciello Prema Dallara-Merc 49.584s +0.035s 32 3. Alex Lynn Prema Dallara-Merc 49.638s +0.089s 37 4. Dennis van de Laar Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW 49.650s +0.101s 41 5. Sven Muller Ma-con Dallara-VW 49.693s +0.144s 36 6. Harry Tincknell Carlin Dallara-VW 49.739s +0.190s 32 7. Michael Lewis Mucke Dallara-Merc 49.783s +0.234s 38 8. Tom Blomqvist Eurointernational Dallara-Merc 49.814s +0.265s 31 9. Lucas Auer Prema Dallara-Merc 49.836s +0.287s 30 10. Daniil Kvyat Carlin Dallara-VW 49.861s +0.312s 34 11. Jordan King Carlin Dallara-VW 49.902s +0.353s 32 12. Eddie Cheever Prema Dallara-Merc 49.938s +0.389s 37 13. Alexander Sims T-Sport Dallara-Nissan 49.947s +0.398s 37 14. Pipo Derani Fortec Dallara-Merc 49.953s +0.404s 19 15. Antonio Giovinazzi Double R Dallara-Merc 49.977s +0.428s 34 16. Jann Mardenborough Carlin Dallara-VW 49.981s +0.432s 36 17. Lucas Wolf URD Dallara-Merc 49.984s +0.435s 34 18. Nicholas Latifi Carlin Dallara-VW 50.044s +0.495s 37 19. Nick Cassidy EuroInternational Dallara-Merc 50.057s +0.508s 30 20. Sandro Zeller Zeller Dallara-Merc 50.161s +0.612s 43 21. Andre Rudersdorf Ma-con Dallara-VW 50.242s +0.693s 40 22. Felix Serralles Fortec Dallara-Merc 50.247s +0.698s 27 23. Spike Goddard T-Sport Dallara-Nissan 50.333s +0.784s 33 24. Sean Gelael Double R Dallara-Merc 50.369s +0.820s 38 25. Mitchell Gilbert Mucke Dallara-Merc 50.438s +0.889s 35 26. Roy Nissany Mucke Dallara-Merc 50.447s +0.898s 40 27. Tatiana Calderon Double R Dallara-Merc 50.964s +1.415s 34 28. Michela Cerruti Ferraris Dallara-Merc 2 2013 FIA European F3 championship (Rd 6, Free Practice 2) Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap Laps 1. Daniil Kvyat Carlin Dallara-VW 49.158s 33 2. Harry Tincknell Carlin Dallara-VW 49.159s +0.001s 31 3. Raffaele Marciello Prema Dallara-Merc 49.218s +0.060s 21 4. Tom Blomqvist Eurointernational Dallara-Merc 49.246s +0.088s 28 5. Sven Muller Ma-con Dallara-VW 49.253s +0.095s 38 6. Jordan King Carlin Dallara-VW 49.254s +0.096s 42 7. Alexander Sims T-Sport Dallara-Nissan 49.269s +0.111s 31 8. Alex Lynn Prema Dallara-Merc 49.304s +0.146s 31 9. Felix Rosenqvist Mucke Dallara-Merc 49.324s +0.166s 31 10. Felix Serralles Fortec Dallara-Merc 49.379s +0.221s 39 11. Nicholas Latifi Carlin Dallara-VW 49.417s +0.259s 37 12. Michael Lewis Mucke Dallara-Merc 49.419s +0.261s 31 13. Pipo Derani Fortec Dallara-Merc 49.423s +0.265s 37 14. Jann Mardenborough Carlin Dallara-VW 49.424s +0.266s 35 15. Lucas Wolf URD Dallara-Merc 49.470s +0.312s 40 16. Lucas Auer Prema Dallara-Merc 49.517s +0.359s 33 17. Antonio Giovinazzi Double R Dallara-Merc 49.583s +0.425s 34 18. Dennis van de Laar Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW 49.603s +0.445s 35 19. Andre Rudersdorf Ma-con Dallara-VW 49.723s +0.565s 41 20. Roy Nissany Mucke Dallara-Merc 49.742s +0.584s 36 21. Eddie Cheever Prema Dallara-Merc 49.752s +0.594s 33 22. Nick Cassidy EuroInternational Dallara-Merc 49.838s +0.680s 24 23. Sandro Zeller Zeller Dallara-Merc 49.861s +0.703s 29 24. Sean Gelael Double R Dallara-Merc 49.892s +0.734s 37 25. Mitchell Gilbert Mucke Dallara-Merc 49.907s +0.749s 24 26. Tatiana Calderon Double R Dallara-Merc 50.118s +0.960s 36 27. Spike Goddard T-Sport Dallara-Nissan 50.315s +1.157s 30 28. Michela Cerruti Ferraris Dallara-Merc 50.483s +1.325s 37