Lucas Auer claimed his and Mücke Motorsport’s first FIA European F3 victory of the season at the Hockenheimring today.
The Austrian led every lap from pole, extending the gap to runner-up Ed Jones (Carlin) each time around to win by 7.1s after 22 tours.
It was a stellar start for Auer, who pulled away from the line perfectly; however his fellow front-row man, Antonio Giovinazzi, was less efficient, with the Italian losing a place, bringing Jones to 2nd spot.
Such was Auer’s prowess; the Mücke man pulled out a few tenths each tour around, with Auer leading Jones by 3.5s come the halfway mark. That would continue to grow, as Jones’ Hankook tyres began to fade in the final eight laps.
Despite this, Auer continued to press his advantage home eventually taking his first “proper” FIA F3 race victory, after his previous success came via the stewards office at Brands Hatch last year. “My start was good and the pace was great throughout the race,” said a triumphant Auer. “Nevertheless,” he continued, “it wasn’t an easy race. Driving consistent lap times during the entire race distance was an important factor and I managed to do so.”
Jones endured a far more intensive battle for position. With each lap around, the Dubai-native was tailed by Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam); however the Lotus Junior Team racer struggled to pressure Jones sufficiently to encourage an error.
“I had a good start and already managed to take over second place in the first corner. Lucas was too quick for me, but I succeeded in keeping Esteban at bay. That wasn’t easy, because he was quick,” said the jubilant Jones, adding later, “this is my first year in the championship so to have a result like this during only the second weekend shows our potential.”
Unfortunately for Ocon, his Mercedes-powered machine ran out of fuel on the final lap, promoting Jordan King (Carlin) to the last podium spot, with Ocon falling to 9th position.
It was ample reward for King, having worked hard on his race starts during the off-season. The Briton passed John Bryant-Meisner (Fortec) and Felix Rosenqvist (Mücke) at the start. King noted, “My first few laps in particular were very good. At the start, I managed to gain one place, I got another one in the second corner and I made up more places on the inside line at the hairpin.”
Jones gained further positions when Max Verstappen and Nicholas Latifi collided at the hairpin on lap one, allowing King to rise to 4th as he avoided the carnage. “I overtook another opponent in the Mercedes arena and thus I was already fourth after only one lap.”
Tom Blomqvist was another who had a close call as the chaos unfolded. “It was a tough first lap, there was a collision at the hairpin and I had to run completely off track to avoid it which meant I lost quite a few places.” After the safety car, Jones went on something of a controlled charge. “From then on in it was a case of putting pressure on Esteban [Ocon] and seeing what happened. I pushed really hard in the final few laps and took a bit out of my tyres but it paid off because Ocon had a problem and I was close enough to get past.”
Aside from the Verstappen / Latifi spillage, there followed another crash in the Sachs curve when an over ambitious Michele Beretta powered into Alexander Toril, who in turn hit Gustavo Menezes, bringing out a brief safety car for two laps. Giovinazzi’s race would not last beyond the opening lap – the Jagonya Ayam Carlin racer suffered a collision with Ocon, ending the Italian’s race straight away.
After the restart, Blomqvist pressured Rosenqvist to assume what would later become 4th place; however the Anglo-Kiwi could not hold onto the pace of the front-runners. About his 12-points, Blomqvist was phlegmatic. “We were a little fortunate on the final lap to move up to fourth position but it’s very good to come away with more points. The pace was there and we were able to prove it once I had passed Felix [Rosenqvist] for fifth.”
Rosenqvist dropped behind Blomqvist to take a quiet 5th place ahead of Mitch Gilbert – the latter of whom made decisive pass on Felix Serralles at the restart.
A more confident Jake Dennis would also pass Serralles – albeit on lap 6 to take 7th position and the prize for top rookie finisher. Oddly enough, the Racing Steps Foundation man would have the French National Anthem played in his honour on the podium…
Serralles would have little choice to accept 8th after he passed the struggling Ocon prior to the line, while Spike Goddard claimed his first ever European F3 points, courtesy of a retiring Dennis van de Laar three laps from the end.
Antonio Fuoco could do little with his poor grid position. From 17th, the Italian could only climb to 11th place; however luck played into his hands as few of the early title contenders scored well today.
2014 FIA European F3 Championship (Rd 2, Race 1; 22 laps) Pos Driver Team Time 1. Lucas Auer Mucke-Mercedes 35:03.745s 2. Ed Jones Carlin-Volkswagen +7.120s 3. Jordan King Carlin-Volkswagen +11.625s 4. Tom Blomqvist Jagonya Ayam/Carlin-VW +17.173s 5. Felix Rosenqvist Mucke-Mercedes +19.993s 6. Mitch Gilbert Fortec-Mercedes +21.056s 7. Jake Dennis Carlin-Volkswagen +22.142s 8. Felix Serralles Team West-Tec-Mercedes +23.266s 9. Esteban Ocon Prema Powerteam-Mercedes +23.731s 10. Spike Goddard ThreeBond/T-Sport-NBE +25.410s 11. Antonio Fuoco Prema Powerteam-Mercedes +29.472s 12. Felipe Guimaraes Double R-Mercedes +32.500s 13. Sean Gelael Jagonya Ayam/Carlin-VW +37.689s 14. Sandro Zeller Zeller-Mercedes +50.657s 15. Hector Hurst Team West-Tec-Mercedes +51.584s 16. Alexander Toril ThreeBond/T-Sport-NBE +55.957s 17. Michele Beretta EuroInternational-Merc +58.463s 18. Tatiana Calderon Zeller/Mucke-Mercedes +1:00.008s 19. Dennis van de Laar Prema Powerteam-Mercedes +1 lap 10. John Bryant-Meisner Fortec-Mercedes +1 lap Retirements: Gustavo Menezes Van Amersfoort-Volkswagen +4 laps Roy Nissany Mucke-Mercedes +8 laps Riccardo Agostini EuroInternational-Merc +16 laps Jules Szymkowiak Van Amersfoort-Volkswagen +16 laps Antonio Giovinazzi Jagonya Ayam/Carlin-VW +22 laps Nicholas Latifi Prema Powerteam-Mercedes +22 laps Max Verstappen Van Amersfoort-Volkswagen +22 laps