A 4th place finish was all Raffaele Marciello needed to claim the 2013 FIA European Formula 3 championship this evening.
In the final tours, the Italian racer dropped some 15 seconds behind series runner-up and race winner Felix Rosenqvist, with Marciello taking the twelve points necessary to secure the title.
Meanwhile Marciello’s Prema Powerteam teammates Alex Lynn and Lucas Auer took 2nd and 3rd respectively.
During what can be best described as a processional race, Rosenqvist led from pole, while front row man Marciello dropped to 3rd behind the fast starting Lynn.
Through the 22-lap distance, Rosenqvist drew a slender lead over Lynn, with the Swede heading his Prema rival by 3.5s at the final flag, yet Rosenqvist was far from delighted with his performance. “It was a strange race, because I actually made a lot of mistakes, but I was still able to maintain the lead. Winning the race was all I could do. From that point of view, the weekend has been perfect so far, but still, I am not happy, because I wanted to keep the battle for the title open until tomorrow.”
Despite his very best efforts, there was little Rosenqvist could do to stop the title from going the Italian’s way, but while the Mucke man was disappointed to have lost the championship, he remained gracious in defeat. “Now, I congratulate Raffaele for winning the title, his season was better than mine. I will learn from it and come back stronger next year, wherever I will be racing then.”
Lynn, meanwhile, had something of a lonely race. A brief look at Rosenqvist in the early laps saw Lynn receive a warning for breaching track limits and from there, the Prema racer conceded the win to assume the runner-up spot. In scoring his 14th podium of the season, Lynn had secured 3rd in the championship, pushing out of reach of teammate Auer. “My start was good and I was able to overtake Raffaele without any problems. Then, I tried to put Felix under pressure, but when I got a warning for exceeding the track limits, I took it a little bit easier. I was consistent and quick, but Felix was a little quicker.”
Marciello stayed 3rd for much of the race, but with the Italian only needing a top four to confirm the title, Marciello allowed teammate Auer to take the last podium spot on lap 15. According to the European F3 rookie: “My start was relatively good and I had a good opening lap. Later on, I was able to overtake Raffaele without any problems, because 4th place was enough for him. Thus, he didn’t have to defend at all.”
There are those who may lament Marciello’s decision to safely bring the car home, rather go for the all out victory – that may have been a solution for the Marciello of old, but this matured driver made sure the title was the priority. Not only is the 18-year-old the European Champion, it is also the first title success of his young career.
If nothing else, it gave Marciello a good reason to smile. “It is unbelievable, I am the European champion. I really don’t know what to say. In the race, I was very cautious, because I didn’t want to risk a penalty. But I didn’t have to either, because 4th place was enough for me to seal the title. Admittedly, I didn’t win this race, but I still won the title, and that surely isn’t bad either.”
Behind the top four, Harry Tincknell took yet another top five for Carlin, although the Englishman could not relax thanks to continuous pressure from the feisty Sven Muller.
The Van Amersfoort driver made a majestic start, rising from 13th on the grid to 7th on the opening lap and eventually grabbed 6th from Antonio Giovinazzi on lap eleven, promoting Muller 9th in the points standings above the absent Alexander Sims.
To his credit, Giovinazzi stayed with the Tincknell / Muller battle to register his fifth points finish of the season, equaling his best result of 7th from last week’s round at Vallelunga.
Jordan King’s decent season continued with a fighting drive to 8th place. The Carlin racer spent the early running holding both Pipo Derani (Fortec) and Eddie Cheever (Prema Powerteam) at bay, before beginning a concerted attack on Dennis van de Laar. The position would eventually come for King, who passed the second Van Amersfoort driver with three laps remaining.
Cheever would eventually assume the final points position behind Van de Laar, but only after he too fought off the intentions of Derani.
The Brazilian Derani had initially passed Giovinazzi on the second lap, only for the Double R racer to retake Derani five tours later. In the latter stages, EuroInternational’s Tom Blomqvist also pressed Derani, but could not take 11th place from the Fortec man before the chequered flag.
The race was marred by a ridiculous incident on lap 15, when Kevin Korjus clumsily ran into the side of Felix Serralles on the approach to the hairpin. With both cars damaged and possibly heading for retirement, the limping Serralles swung into the side of Korjus in frustration, making retirement a certainty for the pair.
Both drivers had already received drive through penalties for exceeding tack limits and were battling over 25th and 26th places when the collisions happened. For his troubles, Serralles will start the final race from last position.
2013 FIA European Formula 3 Championship (Rd 10, Race 2; 22 laps) Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Felix Rosenqvist Mucke Dallara-Merc 34m51.886s 2. Alex Lynn Prema Dallara-Merc +03.570s 3. Lucas Auer Prema Dallara-Merc +07.372s 4. Raffaele Marciello Prema Dallara-Merc +15.361s 5. Harry Tincknell Carlin Dallara-VW +22.011s 6. Sven Muller Van Amersfoot Dallara-VW +22.464s 7. Antonio Giovinazzi Double R Dallara-Merc +23.684s 8. Jordan King Carlin Dallara-VW +24.244s 9. Dennis van de Laar Van Amersfoot Dallara-VW +25.686s 10. Eddie Cheever Prema Dallara-Merc +26.412s 11. Pipo Derani Fortec Dallara-Merc +27.150s 12. Tom Blomqvist Eurointernational Dallara-Merc +27.609s 13. Nicholas Latifi Carlin Dallara-VW +28.747s 14. John Bryant-Meisner Fortec Dallara-Merc +32.470s 15. Roy Nissany Mucke Dallara-Merc +38.089s 16. Lucas Wolf URD Dallara-Merc +38.719s 17. Mitchell Gilbert Mucke Dallara-Merc +41.407s 18. Jann Mardenborough Carlin Dallara-VW +42.118s 19. Michael Lewis Mucke Dallara-Merc +43.515s 20. Spike Goddard T-Sport Dallara-Nissan +49.857s 21. Nick Cassidy Carlin Dallara-VW +51.148s 22. Tatiana Calderon Double R Dallara-Merc +51.935s 23. Sandro Zeller Zeller Dallara-Merc +54.748s 24. Sean Gelael Double R Dallara-Merc +57.661s 25. Stefano Coletti Ma-con Dallara-VW +1m18.909s Retirements: Felix Serralles Fortec Dallara-Merc +9 laps Kevin Korjus T-Sport Dallara-Nissan +9 laps Andre Rudersdorf Ma-con Dallara-VW +11 laps