Raffaele Marciello won the final FIA European F3ormula 3 race of the weekend at Vallelunga to extend his lead over rival Felix Rosenqvist to 45.5 points. Going into the final round at Hockenheim.
The Italian led from start to finish, Pipo Derani for the 22-lap duration. Alexander Sims came home 3rd to assume his third podium of the weekend.
While Marciello initially started well, Derani drew ahead momentarily on the opening lap, before dropping back in behind the race leader just as the race’s sole safety car period – following a pair of collisions – began in earnest.
The first incident involved Eddie Cheever III and Nicholas Latifi – the former stalled his Prema Powerteam machine on the grid, only to be hit lightly by the unsighted Latifi, rendering both out on the spot.
Moments later, Tatiana Calderon collided with Lucas Wolf, who then claimed the innocent Sean Gelael at Curve Grande. Although Calderon emerged unscathed, both Gelael and Wolf were pitched at speed across the grassy bank, with both retiring shortly after.
Following the brief stoppage, Marciello began to pull away from Derani, although the Brazilian – on fresh tyres – held relatively close for sometime, until Marciello began to ease away as the race ticked over.
Marciello was rarely hugely faster than Derani, but he had enough in hand to build a four second gap toward the end of the timed race. As he crossed the line, Marciello managed a 3.9s lead over Derani.
Sims, meanwhile, was the beneficiary of a hard battle between Felix Serralles and Alex Lynn during the early part of the race. Initially running in 4th spot, Sims was taken by Lynn on lap four with the latter commencing a battle with Serralles thereafter.
As Serralles and Lynn battled hard and even swapped positions on occasion, Sims kept closed and was allowed to duck by both drivers when the eventually interlocked wheels on the seventh lap, promoting Sims to 3rd, while Lynn assumed 4th spot.
The incident caused Serralles to drop into the clutches of Rosenqvist and Lucas Auer, with pitching Serralles into a spin and effectively ending his race. Auer also came out of the touching cars in a bad way, with the Austrian picking up damage and retiring on the twelfth tour. In the melee, Jordan King snuck through to 5th place, as he slyly crept by Rosenqvist who was held up by stuttering Auer.
Rosenqvist’s 6th could well be a significant result after he started 13th on the grid. The Swede was 8th after the first lap, gaining two more positions when Auer and Serralles disappeared from contention. With 75 points still available next weekend, Rosenqvist has a chance against Marciello to win the title, but it will be a long shot indeed.
Daniil Kvyat took 7th place, although he is not registered to score points in the series. Therefore Harry Tincknell picks up six points in 8th place, finishing ahead of the feisty Dennis van de Laar (9th), Michael Lewis (10th) and Jann Mardenborough (11th).
Van de Laar’s teammate at an Amersfoort Racing, Sven Muller, was running in a competitive 6th place, when his Dallara suffered a mechanical failure on lap six.
There was some contention at the beginning of the race when Auer stalled on the parade lap and dropped to the rear of the field; however the Austrian retook his grid position despite being informed that he had to start last.
Oddly, at the time of his retire no penalty had been issued to the Prema Powerteam racer.