“FIA F3: Giovinazzi claims Hockenheim opener”
Antonio Giovinazzi took his first FIA European F3 victory of the season at the Hockenheimring this afternoon.
In the wet, the race was interrupted by the safety car on three occasions with Giovinazzi taking the chequered flag under neutralised conditions ahead of Felix Rosenqvist and Charles Leclerc.
While Leclerc drove well to stay reasonably close to the leaders during the wet running, this event was all about Giovinazzi and Rosenqvist.
From pole, Rosenqvist was sluggish away, but so too was Giovinazzi; however the Carlin man closed to the back of Rosenqvist exiting turn two, as the Prema Powerteam racer struggled with rear end grip.
Giovinazzi’s better exit opened the door to draw alongside Rosenqvist down the curving back straight and take the lead as the emerged from the hairpin.
Building a gap of 1.3s in the opening four laps, it appeared as if Giovinazzi was going to walk away from Rosenqvist; however that advantage was wiped away when a Sachskurve beached Pietro Fittipaldi brought out the first safety car period.
It was not all plain sailing however, as Giovinazzi received a warning early in the running for weaving unacceptably ahead of the chasing Rosenqvist; however the Italian stayed clean thereafter.
Going green again on the seventh tour, Giovinazzi took two laps to create a 0.7s lead, only for the race to be stymied by the safety car again following a collision between Tatiana Calderon and Nicolas Beer in turn two. In this instance, luck rode with Giovinazzi when the 21-year-old collected a lairy spin on the entry into the stadium section.
Restarting on lap eleven, Giovinazzi again drew out a small gap, but on this occasion was held to just over half-a-second by Rosenqvist. Yet despite the Swede’s close proximity, the Prema was unable to stay close with Giovinazzi through turn two, which ultimately ended any chance of a pass for the lead on the back straight.
When Raoul Hyman became stuck in the gravel at the entry to the stadium section, the safety car was called for a third and final time and with time ticking down, the race would end under yellow.
Behind the leading pair, van Amersfoort rookie Leclerc headed Prema new boy Jake Dennis (4th). Starting 4th and 6th respectively, both Leclerc and Dennis took Maximilian Günther on the opening lap, when the Mücke man stumbled on the entry of turn two. Dennis’ start was particularly impressive as he also jumped Prema’s Lance Stroll early on.
Markus Pömmer took 7th after he too executed a good start from 9th. On occasion when the race was green, the last German F3 champion had a fight on his hands to keep Brandon Maïsano at bay; however that threat dissipated when Maïsano was passed for 8th by Mikkel Jensen on lap eight.
Although he kept close, Jensen was unable to threaten Pömmer and had to settle for four points come the close of the race. Maïsano’s quiet start to the season continued as he brought his Prema Powerteam machine home in 9th, while Gustavo Menezes rounded out the points with a 10th place finish after taking Sérgio Sette Câmera (lap 2) and Santino Ferrucci (lap 8).
The race was peppered by offs, little spins and curious incidents as Hyman had several mishaps; Nabil Jeffri powered between the spun Hyman and Nicholas Pohler on lap two and on lap 12, Ryan Tveter could not avoid colliding with Hyman.
Meanwhile Julio Moreno retired before the start of the race when he crashed entering the stadium section, while Callum Ilot and Camara endured silly offs during the running and Calderon was tapped into a spin by Sam Macleod.