The battle for the DTM title has been decided: while Timo Scheider had a solitary drive to victory in the race at the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg and crossed the finish line as the undisputed winner, eighth place was enough for Pascal Wehrlein to be crowned as the youngest DTM champion in history of the popular touring car series. The Mercedes-Benz driver, who will be celebrating his 21st birthday on Sunday, is beyond reach in the lead of the drivers’ standings with a total of 169 points. On the radio, Wehrlein expressed his emotions after crossing the finish line and cheered loudly. “This simply is an incredible feeling,” Wehrlein said at the finish. “Now, the pressure has gone and I am simply overjoyed.”

Mattias Ekström, Edoardo Mortara and Bruno Spengler, the remaining challengers for the title, were unable to postpone the decision to Sunday: Ekström finished ninth after the turbulent race while his fellow Audi driver Mortara retired after 17 laps and Spengler’s race was over after 20 laps.

Behind race winner Timo Scheider, the German’s fellow Audi driver Jamie Green finished second. Third place went to Maxime Martin, who had started the race from pole position with his BMW M4 DTM, but already lost the lead to eventual race winner Scheider on the opening lap and then had to allow Green to get past as well.

In the DTM finale at Hockenheim, two titles are still at stake: in the teams’ standings, the gooix/Original Teile Mercedes-AMG team is leading with 225 points from BMW Team RMG (198 points). Prior to the final race of the season, BMW is leading the manufacturers’ standings. In the 17 races held so far, the brand from Munich has scored 583 points, while Audi and Mercedes-Benz are at a total of 527 and 520 points respectively.



Season race: 31 of 33
Track: Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg
Winner: Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam)
Pole position: Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam)
Weather: dry and cold

During the FIA Formula 3 European Championship season finale at the 4.574 kilometres long Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg, Canadian Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam) celebrated his maiden race win in the category. Behind the member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, who is in his first season in Formula 3 in 2015, Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam) and the already-crowned FIA Formula 3 European Champion Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam) finished second and third respectively. With his second place, Dennis remains in contention for runner-up spot in the drivers’ standings after his two main rivals Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) and Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing) only finished sixth and eighth.

Lance Stroll overtook Felix Rosenqvist on the opening lap already, the Swede having taken the lead at the start. After several minor collisions on the opening lap, with Zhi Cong Li (Fortec Motorsports), Wing Chung Chang (Fortec Motorsports) and Raoul Hyman (Team West-Tec F3) retiring, the safety car was deployed. Racing resumed on lap four and on the first kilometres already, Jake Dennis overtook his team-mate Felix Rosenqivst. The Brit, who still has chances to conclude the season as runner-up in the drivers’ standings, slotted in behind race leader Lance Stroll.

During the following laps, the order out in front remained unchanged, while Antonio Giovinazzi and Alexander Sims (HitechGP) were in a fierce battle for fifth place. On lap 14, the Brit finally took over fifth position and pulled away from the Italian. Later on, the latter had to deal with Charles Leclerc for a while, before the Monegasque lost his seventh position to George Russell (Carlin) on lap 16.

Out in front, Lance Stroll drove his laps unfazed and went on to score his maiden FIA Formula 3 European Championship race win. Jake Dennis, Felix Rosenqvist and Maximilian Günther (Prema Powerteam) rounded out the success for the Italian Prema Powerteam, that had already wrapped up the teams’ title prior to the season finale. Alexander Sims, Antonio Giovinazzi, George Russell, Markus Pommer (Motopark) and Santino Ferrucci (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) completed the top ten in the 31st season race of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship.

Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam): “Scoring my first race win in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship is a beautiful feeling. It was good that I already used my chances in the first race of the weekend, because I am a little further down on the starting grid for the other two races of the weekend. My start was great and I was able to overtake Felix relatively easily on the opening lap. That was also important for me, because I am still in the battle for second place in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship rookie standings and need all the points I can get. Now, the goal is to keep working, so that I can repeat this success.”

Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam): “Lance has done a good job and deserved this win. He has learned a lot this season. Personally, I was a little bit nervous in the opening stages of the race and made a few slight mistakes. After that, things went well and I was able to pull clear from Giovinazzi and to overtake Felix Rosenqvist. During the race, I looked at the big screens over and over again to see where Antonio and Charles Leclerc, my rivals in the battle for second place in the championship, were. My goal for this weekend is to be on the podium in the final FIA Formula 3 European Championship drivers’ standings.”

Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam): “This weekend somehow has a strange feeling to it, because I am no longer under pressure, having sealed the title already. My main goal for this weekend is to help my team-mates. When Lance had a better acceleration out of the hairpin on the first lap and tried to overtake me, I didn’t defend my position with everything I had. However, that is okay for me, because Lance and also Jake, who overtook me soon after that, need the points more than I do.”



Vijay’s Vision
Team Principal, Dr Vijay Mallya, reflects on the podium in Sochi and sets his sights on a strong race in Austin.
VJM: “We travel to Austin full of energy and optimism following Checo’s fantastic podium in Sochi. The car was strong, our strategy was good, and Checo didn’t put a wheel wrong. You could see from our post-race celebrations just how much the result meant to everyone in the team and it’s a welcome reward for everybody’s hard work this year. It’s very satisfying to get some more silverware for our trophy cabinet at Silverstone.
“Over the winter I said that the target was to achieve podiums in 2015. That may have seemed like an over-optimistic objective, but ever since the introduction of the b-spec car I knew that we had the potential to do something special. We may have had a little good fortune in Sochi, but I believe you make your own luck and we worked hard to seize the opportunity and bring the result home.
“There is a lot of positive energy in the team at the moment. We’ve confirmed both Nico and Sergio for next year and that continuity is important for us. They are very closely matched and they push each other hard. I believe that having healthy competition within the team is a good thing and will help drive the team even further forward.
“The next race in Austin is one of my favourites. They always put on a great event and the fans show lots of enthusiasm for our sport. Luck wasn’t on our side there last year, but there is every reason to believe we can be competitive this year and build on the momentum from Sochi.”
Sergio on Austin
Sergio Perez looks to follow up his podium in Sochi with another strong showing in Austin.
Sergio: “Getting back on the podium in Sochi was an amazing feeling and seeing my crew below the podium is an image that will stay with me forever. They work so hard every day to give me a competitive car and I am really enjoying my time with the team.
“Austin is a great place to race. It has been my home race for several years, before the return of the Mexican Grand Prix, and the circuit is great fun for both fans and drivers. The city is very cool and there is so much happening during Grand Prix week. When I step into the cockpit and see all the Mexican flags and the fans in the stands it’s an incredible boost for me.
“The track has some special parts, especially the first sector and the uphill turn one. You can take a few different lines through the corner and you can brake really late for it, which makes it a good place to overtake. The whole of the first sector is very fun to drive with a lot of quick corners.
“It’s been an interesting season so far and we are doing a great job, so our focus needs to be on keeping it up for the rest of the season.”
Nico on Austin
Nico Hülkenberg aims to put a tough race in Sochi behind him as he prepares to race in the USA.
Nico: “Of the newer tracks on the calendar I think Austin is probably my favourite. The variation of corners makes it good fun to drive and they’ve designed a very nice facility. The track is smooth and it’s easy to find your rhythm. It’s generally a busy weekend on and off the track: Austin is a fun city that really embraces the race and the atmosphere is great.
“The lap is made up of a mixture of corners – high-speed, medium-speed and low-speed. There are also a lot of gradient changes, such as the uphill approach to turn one where it can be tricky to get your brake balance right. Turns three to six are where downforce counts and you need a car that’s responsive to the quick changes of direction. It’s these quick parts of the lap that put high lateral energy through your tyres.
“The DRS is worth quite a lot in Austin and the long straight between turns 11 and 12 is a really good opportunity for overtaking. We should be in good shape and competitive there, which would be the best way to bounce back after my disappointing weekend in Sochi.



Venue: Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg
Track length: 4.574 kilometres
Lap record FIA F3 EC: Lucas Auer 2014 (1:32.970 minutes)
Distance: 22 laps

The three FIA Formula 3 Championship titles – in the driver, rookie and team rankings – already have been secured. However, the battle for the second place in each of the three rankings has been carried over to the season finale at the 4.574-kilometre Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg. In the drivers’ championship, Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin), Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing) and Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam) all hope for finishing second behind the new FIA Formula 3 European Champion, Sweden’s Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam). Meanwhile George Russell (Carlin), Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam) and Alexander Albon (Signature) all still have the chance of securing the second position behind Leclerc in the rookie ranking. And behind team champions Prema Powerteam, Jagonya Ayam with Carlin will battle it out with Van Amersfoort Racing for second place in the team championship.

The battle for second place in the drivers’ championship arguably will be the most exciting one as the gap between the currently second-place driver, Antonio Giovinazzi, and his toughest rival, Charles Leclerc, amounts to just six points. While Jake Dennis, currently fourth, has to score 29.5 points more than Giovinazzi if he wants to become the 2015 vice-champion. Giovinazzi and Leclerc in particular demonstrated in the first FIA Formula 3 European Championship appearance at the Hockenheimring earlier this season that the GP circuit located not far from Heidelberg suits them well. They both made it to the podium in all the three races and won one of them each. While Dennis came close to making it to the podium once by finishing fourth, on the race weekend in early May.

George Russell travels to Hockenheim as second-placed driver in the rookie ranking, with a 21.5-point lead over Lance Stroll in third position. Meanwhile, the gap of fourth-placed Alexander Albon to Russell amounts to 54.5 points. Of the three drivers, Lance Stroll has the fondest memories of Hockenheim as he already finished sixth in two races, there. In addition, Stroll recently delivered in fine style. In the six races contested after the summer break he secured four podiums.

The battle for second place in the team ranking will be contested by Jagonya Ayam with Carlin and Van Amersfoort Racing. The Dutch squad is contesting the season with the three rookies Charles Leclerc, Alessio Lorandi and Arjun Maini and travels to Hockenheim with a 30-point gap to the second-placed British team that will be represented by Antonio Giovinazzi, Gustavo Menezes and rookie Ryan Tveter.

The grid for the FIA Formula 3 European Championship season finale once again also will feature HitechGP and ArtLine Engineering. British team HitechGP that also contested the race meeting at Portimão will enter a Dallara for Alexander Sims and Russia’s ArtLine Engineering squad even will contest the race weekend with two cars. The two in-house design chassis’ – Type 315 – will be raced by Latvian Harald Schlegelmilch and Germany’s Marvin Dienst. For the 18-year old who secured the ADAC Formula 4 title two weeks ago at the same venue it will be the first appearance at the wheel of a Formula 3 racer.

Pietro Fittipaldi (Fortec Motorsports): “It will be our second trip to Hockenheim this year and I hope that I will secure better results than I did in May when I had to retire twice and finished 20th in the third race. The Hockenheimring is a circuit I actually like. Nonetheless, it’s demanding – for both drivers and engineers. When it comes to the setup, you have to find the best possible compromise between maximum top speed for the straights and a lot of downforce for the corners – what could turn out to be quite a challenging task. I think the final two corners will be the crucial sections of the lap. If you get of the racing line in the first you also lose a lot of time in the second. Here, you can both gain or lose a lot.”



GP2 Series: Stoffel Vandoorne, GP2 Series Champion. How does that sound?
Stoffel Vandoorne: It sounds pretty good! We knew before coming here that was our target. We could have done it yesterday, but things did not go 100% our way. But crossing the line in fourth today ahead of Alex Rossi was enough to do it. That’s what counts in the end. The job is done and now I have two weekends left in the season: I will be relaxed and have no pressure. I will push really hard for a couple more victories and finish the season on a high. To be crowned with two rounds to spare, it shows all the work we’ve done this season and how good it’s been together with ART. We’ve achieved great things over the past two years. We’ve broke nearly all the records this season. It’s one that I will definitely remember for ever.
GP2 Series: What about today’s race? Will it be one that you will remember specifically?
Stoffel Vandoorne: Well, I had a good start today. I gained a position, but then I had to take the exit road at Turn 2 because everybody was bunched up a bit. After that, I was back into P6. I had a good first couple  of laps. I moved up to P5, or was it P4…? I don’t really remember how it ran exactly (Laughs). It was quite a good race, but not an easy one: overtaking was pretty difficult. We definitely had a really good pace compared to the others: I could follow them quite easily, but to overtake them was hard. I think that without the safety car in the end, I could have overtaken Raffaele, but the race finished under safety car and I had to settle for fourth. It would have been nice to finish on the podium, obviously, but we can’t really complain.
GP2 Series: Looking back at the season, is there one race that meant more than the others?
Stoffel Vandoorne: There are two races actually that were quite special to me this season: obviously, my home race which I won. It’s always a very special event. The other one is probably Monaco: a win on this track is always a great achievement. I had been there once before GP2 and again last year, but I always had a little bit of bad luck. To go there a third time, put it all together and finally win, it was a very good feeling.
GP2 Series: Any round you’d like to make amends with?
Stoffel Vandoorne: Maybe Silverstone… I think it was not our best round: we still finished third in the feature race, but after the whole weekend we understood what we had missed to fight for the win. If we went back today, it would most likely be a different story for us.
GP2 Series: Now that you are Champion, can you tell us if you felt under pressure before the start of the season?
Stoffel Vandoorne: I knew what my job was. I wanted to dominate the Series in my second season. McLaren as well: everybody said that I had everything at my disposal to win it. To have managed that is a great feeling. There’s always some pressure when you start a season, but I think we’ve managed that very well. So far we have four pole positions and five victories. We still have two rounds left. I still feel we can add a little bit more to that.
GP2 Series: Have you had any doubt at any point during the season?
Stoffel Vandoorne: No, I didn’t doubt at any time. The end of the 2014 season was already a good benchmark to know where we would fight the following year. We carried that through over the winter. We worked really hard with the team. It was good for me to do two seasons with ART: it’s one of the reference teams obviously. It’s been a while since they’ve won the Series so to do that together with them is a great feeling.
GP2 Series: What do you think made it click so well with ART Grand Prix?
Stoffel Vandoorne: Last year, it started off a little bit tricky: there were some mistakes from my side, and some from theirs. But at the end of the season, it was a good turnaround: we put everything on the table on the car side, on the strategy side, and me as well. I was getting better as a driver, making less mistake… Over the winter, we had conversations about what we had to do to avoid making any mistake because that was the only thing that would hold us back from winning the title. Up until today, we may have made some small mistakes, but nothing disastrous. I think that’s been the key. We’ve always had the speed. We’ve always been on the front row in qualifying since Monaco. I think we showed some great performances.
GP2 Series: What does this GP2 title mean for the rest of your career?
Stoffel Vandoorne: Obviously, it’s one of my best titles. I would say from a personal point of view, it’s definitely the best season I’ve had. I’ve always had the speed since the beginning of my career, but over the years, I wasn’t always putting everything together although I was always finishing quite high in the championships. Still, there were always bits I needed to improve on. Even now, there are some things I can improve on! But this year, I was able to put everything together. Last year, I think my weakness was the sprint races: I was losing ground there. This year, we managed to finish twice on the podium almost every weekend. I think it’s where I’ve improved a lot.
GP2 Series: What’s the next step?
Stoffel Vandoorne: Hopefully Formula One. It’s something I’ve been working on for quite some time, and now to have the GP2 title here is a bit of a luxury I would say with two rounds to go. The next one is in over a month, so I can concentrate on preparing next year which is great. Unfortunately, nothing is decided for the moment, but I’m optimistic. I feel there are some chances out there. The next days and weeks are going to be crucial for next year.
GP2 Series: Do you at least know what you will be doing tonight to celebrate your title?
Stoffel Vandoorne: Probably have a few drinks with my team!



Sergio: “It feels great to be back on the podium and to be able to celebrate with my team. I have been enjoying my time with the team so much and this is a great reward for all the work we have put in together. The call to pit under the safety car turned out to be very good because it gave us track position ahead of all the battles. With one lap to go, when Valtteri (Bottas) and Kimi (Raikkonen) passed me, it felt like this result had been taken from us: I was obviously disappointed but I also knew I had given all I could during the race. There was no more I could do because I had been on the same tyres for more than 40 laps. When I finally managed to get back into third it was just an amazing feeling. I am happy I was able to share this second podium with my team. It’s a very special result and one that fills me with expectation ahead of the races in Austin and especially Mexico City.”

The Premiere Motorsport Podcast