Raffaele Marciello took the opening race of the FIA European Formula 3 Championship weekend at Vallelunga, but it was a far from easy win.
The Italian led from start-to-finish, but was shadowed for the duration by T-Sport ace Alexander Sims and Prema Powerteam counterpart Alex Lynn.
It was a very aggressive start by the leading trio, with Marciello edging ahead of Sims through the opening turns, while Lynn lurked in their engine fumes.
As Sims attacked, Marciello managed the gap to approximately 0.7s-0.8s, with Marciello, Sims and Lynn consistently circulating within three-tenths of the pole lap.
However when the race eased into its second half, rear tyre wear began to factor and the leading group began to drop tenths here and there; however none could take advantage of the situation.
Sims lost a little time in the mid-part of the race, allowing the gap to grow as much as 1.3s by lap 14; however the fell back to under one second in the final third, but not enough for advantage to be taken.
After 24 tours, Marciello crossed the finish line, just 1.053s ahead of Sims, bringing the Italian’s championship lead over Felix Rosenqvist up to 33.5 points. Lynn took the final podium spot a further 1.1s behind the 2nd place man.
Carlin’s Daniil Kvyat raced to a lonely 4th, several seconds ahead of Prema Powerteam rookie Eddie Cheever, who took 5th place – his best finish of the season.
Cheever was untroubled by the tense battle for 6th place between Pipo Derani, Lucas Auer and Sven Muller. The threesome battled hard in the second half of the race, even going side-by-side through several turns, but despite Auer’s best efforts, Derani maintained his top six.
Muller, too, was on watch, taking the chequered flag just six-tenths behind Auer, yet the German could nothing to move up the order.
Antonio Giovinazzi drove very well to 9th to be the highest finishing Double-R runner. Giovinazzi held his own late on again a hard charging Felix Rosenqvist, who took the final point after starting 27th and last.
Rosenqvist was left in the final row after a crash in qualifying session one took him out of contention; however the Swede made several places on the opening lap, before picking off Tatiana Calderon (lap 2), Lucas Wolf, Michael Lewis, Jann Mardenborough (all lap 3), John Bryant-Meisner (lap 4), Jordan King (lap 7), Dennis van de Laar (lap 9), Tom Blomqvist (lap 14) and Harry Tincknell (lap 16).
Felix Serralles crashed his Fortec out from the points early on, while Spike Goddard had two offs, but finished, albeit lapped. Mitch Gilbert stalled from 18th on the grid, rendering his race rather mute.
2013 FIA European Formula 3 Championship (Rd 9, Race 1; 24 laps) Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Raffaele Marciello Prema Dallara-Merc 36m08.051s 2. Alexander Sims T-Sport Dallara-Nissan +1.053s 3. Alex Lynn Prema Dallara-Merc +2.195s 4. Daniil Kvyat Carlin Dallara-VW +7.437s 5. Eddie Cheever Prema Dallara-Merc +14.104s 6. Pipo Derani Fortec Dallara-Merc +18.105s 7. Lucas Auer Prema Dallara-Merc +18.806s 8. Sven Muller Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW +19.333s 9. Antonio Giovinazzi Double R Dallara-Merc +21.119s 10. Felix Rosenqvist Mucke Dallara-Merc +22.122s 11. Harry Tincknell Carlin Dallara-VW +26.404s 12. Tom Blomqvist Eurointernational Dallara-Merc +27.621s 13. Jordan King Carlin Dallara-VW +33.115s 14. Dennis van de Laar Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW +34.838s 15. John Bryant-Meisner Fortec Dallara-Merc +35.380s 16. Michael Lewis Mucke Dallara-Merc +35.826s 17. Nicholas Latifi Carlin Dallara-VW +36.974s 18. Jann Mardenborough Carlin Dallara-VW +37.358s 19. Lucas Wolf URD Dallara-Merc +42.474s 20. Tatiana Calderon Double R Dallara-Merc +45.216s 21. Andre Rudersdorf Ma-con Dallara-VW +45.665s 22. Roy Nissany Mucke Dallara-Merc +48.373s 23. Sandro Zeller Zeller Dallara-Merc +55.395s 24. Mitchell Gilbert Mucke Dallara-Merc +56.641s 25. Spike Goddard T-Sport Dallara-Nissan +1 lap Retirements: Sean Gelael Double R Dallara-Merc +23 laps Felix Serralles Fortec Dallara-Merc +24 laps