PASTOR MALDONADO’S UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX PREVIEW
What are your thoughts on the Circuit of the Americas?
Austin is a great track, it’s a challenging layout which is refreshing to drive and it’s an enjoyable event. The first turn is quite something with its very steep climb and the rest of the lap flows well. The atmosphere at the circuit is really special, even for the first time we visited. It’s great to see the RVs at the side of the track and people staying at the circuit to enjoy the full weekend. The circuit can be a difficult one for tyres. The event is taking place earlier in the year this season so hopefully there’s plenty of sun to burn off any morning fog! Certainly, there can be a variety with the weather and in the past we’ve seen it be quite cold at the start of the day.
How about Austin as a place?
It’s really a fantastic location with a lot to do. It’s certainly the type of city I’d like to visit even if there wasn’t a race there! It’s a really lively place with a lot going on. Great food, great music and great people are three things I think about when we go to Austin. The fans are superb too. It’s only the fourth time we will visit Austin, but already it’s one event on the calendar that we really look forward to visiting.
What is your feeling on America in general?
It’s a place I love and I have spent a lot of time in Miami.
What’s your outlook for this race?
I think Austin offers us a good opportunity. The circuit shouldn’t pose any particular problems as long as we can get the tyres working as we want. The E23 is a car that generally works well so we have a good baseline to start with. At this point of the year we’re pretty on top of things like set-up and getting the most out of the car so it’s a case of getting the laps and simulations done in practice, qualifying as well as possible then targeting points in the race.
How was the Sochi debrief?
It was a solid race for us and the car felt good. We weren’t able to get the maximum from the super soft tyres in qualifying and also in the race they didn’t reward us with all we wanted, but we were able to push quite well, especially at the end of the race. I was relieved that Romain was fine after his crash. These cars are strong, but it did look like he’d had a big one.
If you had to be a character in a western movie, what would your character be like?
I think there are many people out there who would say I would make a good baddie! Certainly this weekend I’m looking to steal lots of points, so maybe that should be my character.
Last year saw your season-best qualifying position and race result; can we expect more of the same this year?
Certainly, everything went relatively well for us last year in Austin when you compare the performance to the season we’d been having. There’s no reason to say we can’t have a great weekend this year. At every race we’re looking to maximise the package we have; we always look to be as fast as possible in qualifying and finish the race as strongly as possible. I like the Circuit of the Americas, the E23 is a good racing car and I’m confident we’ll do the best job we can.
SCHEIDER WINS – WEHRLEIN WRAPS UP DTM TITLE
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.
MAIDEN FORMULA 3 VICTORY FOR 16-YEAR-OLD LANCE STROLL
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.”
SAHARA FORCE INDIA’S UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX PREVIEW
FIA F3 EC SEASON FINALE
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.”