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“FIA F3: Fuoco wins; heads all-rookie podium”

April 20, 2014

Fuoco leads the field at the start. © FIA.

Fuoco leads the field at the start. © FIA.

Antonio Fuoco claimed his first FIA European Formula 3 Championship victory at a cold and windy Silverstone this morning.

The Italian teenager fronted an all-rookie podium; alongside runner-up Max Verstappen and 3rd place man Esteban Ocon.

Fuoco (Prema Powerteam) jumped teammate and poleman Ocon off the line and led a close gaggle of four cars through the Village-Abbey-Arena section.

As the quartet poured onto the Wellington straight, taking care not to collide, Fuoco filtered into the lead ahead of Ocon, who led Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam Carlin), who led Verstappen (van Amersfoort).

For a time Ocon pressed Fuoco; however the new leading man – with two new tyres – held sway, while Ocon – on used Hankook rubber – began to struggle as the race aged somewhat.

Blomqvist too was beginning to lose precious grip in the early stages, allowing Verstappen to pass into the Loop, but the feisty Blomqvist fought back briefly, only for Verstappen to solidify the position shortly thereafter.
The move was investigated for a time following suspicions that it had been completed under yellow flags; however the race stewards would conclude that it was a clean move.

Verstappen’s move for 3rd cemented one segment of the race. Seeing 2nd place just ahead, the Dutch racer zeroed in on Ocon, allowing Fuoco more freedom to drive away in the lead.
As Ocon mirrors and concentration began to fill with Dutch youth, Fuoco drew away, eventually building a lead on 4.7s come the chequered flag. This would be Fuoco’s first Formula 3 victory and it was done in style. “My race start was fantastic,” said the victor. “I managed to overtake Esteban right away. I believe that was the key to success. This was my first weekend in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship and I am really delighted that I can already celebrate my first win.”

Behind Fuoco, the slowing Ocon held Verstappen at bay – for a time – but the move was inevitable. The decisive move came on lap 11, when Verstappen played a dummy on Ocon through Abbey, before diving inside for the runner-up spot. Ocon played aggressive for a few corners in an effort to retake his position, but Verstappen had sealed the deal.
The Dutch racer commented that: “I made a good start and I was able to battle for the top positions right away. Towards the middle of the race, my tyres started to degrade but I still maintained a good pace.”

With the two positions escaping, Ocon held his final podium place with little threat from behind, ensuring the rookie maintained the points lead prior to the next round at the Hockenheimring. For Ocon, the race was a mixture of positive and negative elements. “Antonio’s start was better than mine so that allowed him to overtake me for the lead. In the first two laps, I was faster, but I couldn’t overtake him. Perhaps, I was running too closely behind him at that time and ruined my front tyres while doing so.”

Nicholas Latifi made it three Prema Powerteam entries in the top four, following a long and forceful battle with Blomqvist. The Canadian lost his 4th place off the start, but pushed the Carlin man for several laps; a battle that saw the pair swap position twice during the fifth lap.
Latifi would finally complete the job on lap nine, when he made a stellar pass around the outside of Blomqvist in Copse.

The slowing Blomqvist would lose out further still when teammate Antonio Giovinazzi passed for 5th on lap 14. Admittedly, it was the end of an intriguing journey for Giovinazzi, who fell from 6th to 11th at the start, before passing Jordan King and John Bryant-Meisner (both lap 2), Felix Rosenqvist (lap 9) and Lucas Auer on lap 11.
The spinning Ed Jones gave Giovinazzi another position – also on lap 11 – bringing the Italian to the rear of the struggling Blomqvist.

For Blomqvist, 6th would be the best he could muster, although had there been another lap, he may have fallen behind the recovering Rosenqvist.
It had been a disastrous weekend for the Mücke team. Mechanical and set-up issues had left the German squad struggling and it saw Rosenqvist’s title challenge stutter badly at the first hurdle – again.
The Swede had made a good start. From the seventh row, Rosenqvist had jumped to 9th on the opening tour and was 8th a circulation later, although he would lose two places at the halfway point. Jones’ spin and difficulties for Auer and King brought Rosenqvist up to 7th, but that was the best he could manage following a frustrating weekend.
A disappointed Rosenqvist later noted: “We were a little bit stronger after making some set-up changes for the final race, but we still obviously can’t be happy. We have a lot of work ahead of us, and we need to improve the situation quickly, but I’m confident we’ll be able to fight back. It’s still very early days in the season and we’ll do absolutely everything to turn this around sooner rather than later.”

Auer would claim 8th on the final lap, when he passed the damaged King; the latter having partially broken his front wing a few laps previously. Indeed despite the removal of front end grip, King held on remarkably well irrespective of the pressure coming from behind.
Felix Serralles could not pass King and thus settled for 10th and the final point. It marks a positive result for the Puerto Rican, who started on the eighth row and passed Bryant-Meisner and Dennis van de Laar on his way to the top ten.

2014 FIA European F3 Championship (Rd 1, Race 3, Silverstone)
Pos  Driver               Team/Car                          Time/Gap
 1.  Antonio Fuoco        Prema Dallara-Merc              34m13.614s
 2.  Max Verstappen       Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW          +4.731s
 3.  Esteban Ocon         Prema Dallara-Merc                 +9.325s
 4.  Nicholas Latifi      Prema Dallara-Merc                +17.322s
 5.  Antonio Giovinazzi   Carlin Dallara-VW                 +21.667s
 6.  Tom Blomqvist        Carlin Dallara-VW                 +25.945s
 7.  Felix Rosenqvist     Mucke Dallara-Merc                +26.266s
 8.  Lucas Auer           Mucke Dallara-Merc                +32.033s
 9.  Jordan King          Carlin Dallara-VW                 +33.437s
10.  Felix Serralles      West-Tec Dallara-Merc             +33.814s
11.  John Bryant-Meisner  Fortec Dallara-Merc               +34.027s
12.  Dennis van de Laar   Prema Dallara-Merc                +34.448s
13.  Hector Hurst         West-Tec Dallara-Merc             +35.474s
14.  Alexander Toril      T-Sport Dallara-NBE               +35.792s
15.  Ed Jones             Carlin Dallara-VW                 +38.021s
16.  Roy Nissany          Mucke Dallara-Merc                +39.821s
17.  Michele Beretta      Eurointernational Dallara-Merc    +42.527s
18.  Gustavo Menezes      Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW         +43.205s
19.  Tatiana Calderon     Jo Zeller Dallara-Merc            +45.972s
20.  Jules Szymkowiak     Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW         +48.697s
21.  Spike Goddard        T-Sport Dallara-NBE             +1m16.767s
Retirements:
     Riccardo Agostini    Eurointernational Dallara-Merc     16 laps
     Sean Gelael          Carlin Dallara-VW                  15 laps
     Mitchell Gilbert     Fortec Dallara-Merc                  1 lap
     Jake Dennis          Carlin Dallara-VW                   0 laps
     Felipe Guimaraes     Double R Dallara-Merc               0 laps
2014 FIA European F3 Championship (Rd 1)
Drivers' Championship      (Pts)
1. Esteban Ocon              58
2. Antonio Fuoco             52
3. Tom Blomqvist             43
4. Nicholas Latifi           38
5. Max Verstappen            28

Rookie Championship        (Pts)
1. Esteban Ocon               65
2. Antonio Fuoco              61 
3. Max Verstappen             33
4. Jules Szymkowiak           30
5. Jake Dennis                27
  
Teams' Championship        (Pts)
1. Prema Powerteam           104
2. Jagonya Ayam with Carlin   72
3. Van Amersfoort             37
4. Mucke Motorsport           35
5. Carlin                     29
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