Charles Leclerc extended his lead in the FIA European F3 Championship today, with a controlled victory at the Norisring.
Behind the Monegasque racer, Antonio Giovinazzi reinvigorated his championship challenge with a drive to 2nd, Felix Rosenqvist jumped to 2nd in the points as he climbed to the final podium spot.
Under teeming rain, the race both started and ended under the safety car, due to considerable spray around the short layout.
It was not until the fourth lap that the race was allowed to run, from which point Leclerc drew away from the chasing pack. Initially Maximilian Günther followed, but the German was quickly taken by Signature’s Alexander Albon.
Albon closed to the tail of Leclerc by lap 11, only for the Thai racer to run wide at the turn one hairpin and drop to 5th, allowing Günther back up to 2nd, albeit 6.7s shy of the lead.
The Mücke racer would not hold the position for long. Running wide at the hairpin on lap 14 allowed Giovinazzi to assume the position. The battle between the Jagonya Ayam Carlin man and Günther would last an additional lap, with the duo swapping positions twice before Giovinazzi stamped his authority on the battle.
It marked a positive middle stint for Giovinazzi, who had only the lap before done the same to Rosenqvist. The Swede would within another two laps be back into 3rd, having eventually demoted Günther further still.
However by 20, the race was neutralised, as a spate of minor offs and incidents forced the stewards to call for the safety car. In amongst the minor scuffles, Jake Dennis collected the lapped Arjun Maini at the hairpin; a corner that would also claim Santino Ferrucci and Matt Soloman.
Amidst the mess, the safety car was called, slowing the pace and effectively ending the contest. Although the rain had subsided, the heavy spray remained, ensuring the race would not restart.
Behind the leading trio, Günther had little choice but to accept 4th spot, ahead of Albon (5th). Dorian Boccolacci made it two Signature Volkswagen cars in the top six, while Gustavo Menezes (Jagonya Ayam Carlin) drove a quiet race to 7th.
Lance Stroll climbed the order to record 8th for Prema Powerteam, but Pommer continued to drop down the order as the race aged, taking only 9th in his Motopark machine. Carlin’s George Russell rounded out the top ten for Carlin.
Giovinazzi and Russell collected lingering carbon fibre wreckage strewn about the section. Giovinazzi was under investigation immediately following the race, as it is understood he may have overtaken the safety car just after its release.
The hairpin proved a difficult tight bend throughout, with Markus Pommer, Sergio Sette Camara, Michele Beretta, Alesio Lorandi.