Felix Rosenqvist claimed the opening FIA European F3 win of the season at Silverstone, during a race peppered by safety car interruptions.
The Swede – now in his fifth year at this level – led from the start and despite the constant presence in his mirrors of Carlin rival Antonio Giovinazzi, Rosenqvist could not be pressured into an error.
Starting behind the safety car, due to the changeable weather conditions, gave Rosenqvist the advantage as he drew away from Giovinazzi at the lap three green. “It is difficult when it is like this,” said Rosenqvist. “It was drying every lap and you are trying to prove yourself to the conditions, so you have to be on edge all the time and have to be a bit more brave than you think you have to be.”
The racing would last only a few short moments, George Russell and Charles Leclerc clipped on the approach of Vale, which in turn caused Brandon Maïsano to spin, while just behind Matt Rao and Kang Li had offs.
Such was the spread of cars in the gravel or stuck on still damp kerbs, the safety car was recalled for a further three tours – it was an incident that certainly captured Rosenqvist’s attention. “The place for the safety car line is maybe not the best, because […] there was a crash, so maybe they should have a rethink on that one.”
While there maybe a touch of truth in Rosenqvist’s statement, it would be amiss to mention that almost all who ran off road at that time were effectively Formula 3 rookies.
From the lap six restart, Rosenqvist headed Giovinazzi again and had built a 2.4s lead over the Italian when the race was neutralised after another off, this time for Alessio Lorandi, who had beached his van Amersfoort Volkswagen into the gravel at Woodcote.
Once again Rosenqvist led from Giovinazzi at the restart, but this time the Carlin man stayed closer to the lead, with Rosenqvist not stretching the gap to more than 1.0s.
For the 23-year-old Rosenqvist, everything came together perfectly. “It was quite controlled; I managed to do a great lap with each restart – Antonio was always quick, but was never in the situation where he was close enough. It was about managing the gap and not doing anything stupid.”
Jake Dennis completed the podium in his Racing Steps Foundation-backed Prema Powerteam Mercedes. Dennis enjoyed a brief battle in the early green flag running with Signature’s Alexander Albon, only for Dennis to settle the battle in his favour with a solid pair of post-safety car restarts.
Albon took 4th and was the highest placed rookie. He managed the gap back to Markus Pommer, while Lance Stroll rounded out the top six. Gustavo Menezes made a solid start to assume 7th, although one of the more startling performances came courtesy of Russell, who 18th after his clash with Leclerc.
From there, Russell rose through the order taking 8th at the flag after he passed Maximilian Günther, Callum Ilot, Pietro Fittopaldi, Mikkel Jensen and Nicolas Beer in the final two laps alone.
Günther (9th) and Ilot (10th) rounded out the points scores, while the quick Leclerc could only rise to 12th come the end.
2015 FIA European F3 Championship (Rd 1, Race 3, Silverstone) Pos. Driver Team Time / Gap 1. Felix Rosenqvist Prema Powerteam-Merc +15 laps 2. Antonio Giovinazzi Jagonya Carlin-VW +0.938s 3. Jake Dennis Prema Powerteam-Merc +2.681 4. Alexander Albon Signature-VW +4.767 5. Markus Pommer Motopark-VW +5.229 6. Lance Stroll Prema Powerteam-Merc +6.175 7. Gustavo Menezes Jagonya Carlin-VW +6.934 8. George Russell Carlin-VW +7.470 9. Maximilian Günther Mücke-Merc +7.897 10. Callum Ilot Carlin-VW +8.531 11. Pietro Fittipaldi Fortec-Merc +9.886 12. Charles Leclerc van Amersfoort-VW +10.282 13. Mikkel Jensen Mücke-Merc +12.464 14. Nicolas Beer EuroInternatonal-Merc +13.147 15. Nabil Jeffri Motopark-VW +14.060 16. Fabian Schiller West-Tec-Merc +14.915 17. Sérgio Sette Motopark-VW +15.486 18. Santino Ferrucci Mücke-Merc +15.884 19. Raoul Hyman West-Tec-Merc +17.549 20. Tatiana Calderon Carlin-VW +17.939 21. Dorian Boccolacci Signature-VW +18.687 22. Sam MacLeod Motopark-VW +19.510 23. Hongwei Cao Fortec-Merc +20.021 24. Michele Beretta Mücke-Merc +20.304 25. Matt Solomon Double R-Merc +22.949 26. Mahaveer Raghunathan Motopark-VW +28.887 27. Nicolas Pohler Double R-Merc +30.780 28. Julio Moreno ThreeBond T-Sport-NBE +33.168 Retirements: Kang Ling Mücke-Merc +4 laps Zhi Cong Li West-Tec-Merc +5 laps Alessio Lorandi van Amersfoort-VW +7 laps Arjun Maini van Amersfoort-VW +9 laps Ryan Tveter Jagonya Carlin-VW +10 laps Brandon Maïsano Prema Powerteam-Merc +14 laps Matthew Rao West-Tec-Merc +14 laps