World Series by Renault

Bianchi ends wait for first FR3.5 Series win

Jules Bianchi (Tech 1 Racing) led from start to finish at the Nürburgring to claim his first victory in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, with Nico Müller (International Draco Racing) and Robin Frijns (Fortec Motorsports) finishing second and third respectively. By finishing third, 2011 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 champion Frijns takes the overall championship lead and edges ever closer to an appearance in the Red Bull Racing F1 exhibition – the prize at stake for the man at the top of the standings at the end of the weekend.

Robin Frijns and Jules Bianchi engaged in a brilliant duel in qualifying. French driver Bianchi eventually got the better of his Dutch rival, putting in a perfect lap to claim his maiden pole position in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. The drivers had 450 seconds of DRS at their disposal for the race.

Bianchi made a perfect start to the race, but the same cannot be said for Frijns and Arthur Pic (Dams). Nico Müller, who started fourth on the grid, took advantage of the pair’s less than ideal getaway to move up into second place. Bianchi, Müller and Frijns began to pull away after the first lap, while Pic, fourth at this stage, fought to keep Kevin Magnussen (Carlin), Walter Grubmüller (P1 Motorsport), Marco Sorensen (Lotus), Sam Bird (ISR), Antonio Felix da Costa (Arden Caterham) and Carlos Huertas (Fortec Motorsports) at bay.

The leading trio took advantage of the battle behind them and began to widen the gap, and after five laps, Bianchi, Müller and Frijns were almost five seconds ahead of Pic. The Frenchman held the upper hand over Magnussen, while Sorensen moved up into sixth after getting past Grubmüller with a perfect manoeuvre.

Bianchi was having a masterful race at the front of the field and managed to build a slim lead over Müller, who for his part was gradually moving away from Frijns. The most keenly contested battle was for Grubmüller’s seventh place, with the Austrian doing everything in his power to stop Sam Bird from sneaking past.

Frijns caught up with Müller towards the end of the race and launched a DRS-aided attack, but Müller refused to budge. The fight for fifth place was every bit as intense, with Sorensen also regaining contact with Magnussen.

From then, however, the race order remained unchanged. Bianchi, Sahara Force India’s third driver and a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, took the chequered flag to claim his first victory in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. With it, he became the sixth different winner in six races. Müller, for his part, finished second to make his first appearance on the podium this season. The biggest winner, however, was third-placed Robin Frijns, who moves top of the championship standings with a two-point lead over Sam Bird, who could only finish eighth.

Jules Bianchi: “It’s never easy to win! We had a difficult start to the season, and even this weekend things started badly with the technical problems we suffered in collective testing. But I knew the car was quick, and that showed in qualifying. This victory really kick-starts my season. I’ll need more wins if I’m to have a real hope of winning the championship.”

Nico Müller: “From the start, we knew we were in a good position to do well. This podium finish is the culmination of all the work we’ve done since the first tests. The season started very badly at Motorland Aragón, but since then we have made steady progress. It wasn’t possible for us to win today, but it will come eventually.”

Robin Frijns: “I didn’t get off to a good start, to say the least. But after that, the race went well. We have the car to win and I was faster than Nico [Müller], but he defended his position perfectly without making the slightest mistake. I’m top of the championship tonight, but all I’m thinking about now is qualifying well tomorrow and getting a good result.”

DTM

Ice cold in the sweltering heat – Gary Paffett claims pole at Norisring

Nuremberg. Summerly temperatures of around 35 degrees turned qualifying for the fifth DTM season round at the Norisring to a hot battle. Points’ leader Gary Paffett remained the coolest with his DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé. The Brit completed his lap of the 2.3 kilometres long street circuit in Nuremberg in 49.139 seconds and will be starting from first place on the grid into Sunday’s race. The qualifying winner said about the 111th pole position for Mercedes-Benz: “That was close. I am totally happy, a perfect day. Tomorrow, I want my third victory of the season. Driving safely is not an option, I will give everything to win.” For Paffett, it is the tenth pole of his career and the second of this year.

Paffett’s fellow Mercedes-Benz driver Jamie Green completed the clean sweep of the front row for Mercedes-Benz by qualifying second fastest on Saturday afternoon. The Brit was only 0.032 seconds down. Brazilian BMW driver Augusto Farfus celebrated his third place like victory in qualifying: “For me, third place on the grid feel like being on pole. I am overjoyed. The performance of the car was just great. Even for me, as a Brazilian, it was too hot in the car today.”

Two times’ DTM champion Mattias Ekström was the best-placed Audi driver on Saturday. With his Audi A5 Coupé, the Swede ended up fourth in qualifying. “Of course, going into Q4 as the fastest driver, being only fourth on the grid at the end is very disappointing. But I am still on the second row of the grid and from there, anything can happen”, said Ekström.

Ralf Schumacher (Mercedes-Benz), who is celebrating his 37th birthday today, didn’t get any presents in qualifying. He was just 57 thousandths of a second short of making it into the fourth and final heat of the shoot-out qualifying. The German will be starting fifth. Reigning DTM champion Martin Tomczyk from Rosenheim will be lining up alongside Schumacher in sixth place with his BMW M3 DTM. His Canadian fellow BMW driver Bruno Spengler was seventh. German Christian Vietoris (Mercedes-Benz), Brit Andy Priaulx (BMW) and Italian Edoardo Mortara (Audi), who celebrated his maiden pole and his first race win in the most popular international touring car series in the fourth DTM round at Spielberg, round out the top ten.

The two Audi drivers Miguel Molina from Spain and two times’ DTM champion Timo Scheider had a setback. Classified 20th and 21st respectively, qualifying was over for them after the first heat already.

British Formula 3

Fantin & Tincknell take the wins; Harvey the series lead

Pietro Fantin and Harry Tincknell set the pace among the British Formula 3 field at the Norisring in Germany today, Fantin taking the British championship honours in the first of the day’s races after setting a blistering qualifying pace, and Tincknell winning outright the reverse-grid race, leading from pole position to chequered flag.

Jack Harvey meanwhile scored well in both races to overhaul Jazeman Jaafar for the championship lead, while in the National class there were twin wins for T-Sport’s Spike Goddard.

Qualifying
Fantin led the way among the British F3 runners in the delayed qualifying session, posting fifth-quickest time overall, two-tenths off the pace of pole man Pascal Wehrlein.

Qualifying had been due to take place on Friday afternoon, but high temperatures in Nuremberg led to the track breaking up at two corners, and the decision was made to postpone the session to this morning; repairs were effected overnight.

Fantin’s best lap of 49.328s was 0.166s better than that of his closest British F3 rival, Fortec Motorsport man Felix Serralles, to earn Pietro fifth on the grid for tomorrow’s 40-minute finale. Fantin’s second-quickest time was good also at 49.376s, earning him fifth position also in this morning’s 40-minute encounter.

“I like it here and my car is really good,” said Fantin. “It’s completely different to anything we have driven before: low downforce and heavy braking, so it’s really tricky. Here, the time is made under braking, so you need to risk it, and be on the limit all the time. The track is similar to some at home in Brazil because it is really bumpy, and maybe that suits me.”

Serralles’ Fortec team-mates Pipo Derani and Hannes van Asseldonk enjoyed strong showings also in qualifying, third and fourth among the British championship runners respectively, with Carlos Sainz and Jazeman Jaafar next up for Carlin.

Harry Tincknell, the British pacesetter in yesterday’s free practice, was baffled to be only eighth among his rivals today. “I don’t know what the problem is, but it’s a different car today,” said the Devonian. Brands Hatch double winner Jack Harvey will line up immediately behind Tincknell tomorrow; he complained of balance problems.

Round 15
Fantin scored his first British Formula 3 win of the season in the first 40-minute race, the 20-year-old Brazilian bringing his Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen home in third place overall, surviving unscathed an incident-packed race which saw dramas for several leading championship contenders.

Fantin finished behind two of the Euro F3 series drivers in the combined British and European series event; the race was won overall by Carlin’s Will Buller following the exclusion of Prema Powerteam driver Daniel Juncadella after a series of controversial late-race clashes.

With a 28-car field on a tight, bumpy and twisty street track, incidents came thick and fast. The turn one hairpin produced an opening-lap clash between British F3 title protagonists Jack Harvey and Jazeman Jaafar, Racing Steps Foundation driver Harvey colliding with the rear end of his Carlin team-mate’s car, sending Jaafar spinning into the path of the field which resulted in front-end damage for the Malaysian and necessitated a pit call.

“I tried to go up the inside of Jaz, and he covered a bit,” said Jack, “and at that point I just couldn’t stop it. I was on the ‘marbles’ and in dirty air, and couldn’t stop.” Race officials penalised Harvey, then running eighth overall, with a drive-through penalty.

Fortec’s Alex Lynn was caught up in the first-corner melee also. “It’s just so tight here,” said the Essex man. “I just got squeezed out and into the inside wall. I was lucky to be able to keep going.” Lynn was forced to the pits for a new nosecone.

Later on the opening lap it was the turn of Carlos Sainz to strike trouble, or more specifically the wall; the Spanish Carlin driver retired to the pits with suspension damage.

Despite an average start, Fantin was away and running in sixth overall, with a Euro car between himself and his closest championship rival, Pipo Derani, with Felix Serralles next up from Harry Tincknell.

Fortec man Derani ended his race on lap seven, when he was tapped into a spin by Prema Powerteam’s Michael Lewis. Derani’s team-mate Hannes van Asseldonk got caught up in the fracas. “I got hit from behind and my wing broke,” said the Dutchman, “I lost a lot of places and then I got a flag to come into the pits and the team pulled my wing off.”

Double R’s Fahmi Ilyas joined Sainz and Derani in retirement on lap seven when the Malaysian damaged his suspension on one of the Norisring’s unforgiving retaining walls.

With Juncadella and Mucke Motorsport’s Pascal Wehrlein disputing top spot, Fantin held a secure sixth with a lead of around 5s over Serralles, and Harry Tincknell – minus his rear wing in a radical attempt to boost his straightline speed – up to third.

Fantin was bottled up behind ma-con Euro runner Emil Bernstorff but dared not risk his British series lead by attempting to pass. “My start was not really good,” said Pietro after the race. “I lost one position there, but my position compared with the British cars was really good. I needed this win, so I didn’t risk anything by trying to pass the Euro Series guy. I did try to have a go one time but I ran wide and Felix caught up a little with me. I had good pace today, the car was really good and I am really happy.”

Fantin crossed the line 1.3s ahead of Serralles, with Tincknell a further 8.8s behind in third. “I started with no rear wing,” said Harry. “It was a tactical decision to try to help me pass people – it didn’t really pay off until later in the race when I got used to it.”

Australians Geoff Uhrhane and Nick McBride were next up for Double R and T-Sport respectively. “It was chaos out there,” said McBride. “I got hit and lost quite a few spots as a result. We are still paying the price for our qualifying performance when we had too much understeer.”

Harvey returned to the fray after his drive-through penalty to finish sixth among the Brits and the last unlapped runner. Spike Goddard was seventh for T-Sport to win the National class – his eighth class win of the year – ahead of pit-callers Jaafar, Lynn and van Asseldonk, with Duvashen Padayachee completing the finishers in his Double R National class car.

Juncadella crossed the line first overall but was later excluded from the results for his part in closing-laps collisions with his team-mate Raffaele Marciello, as well as Wehrlein.

Round 16
Harry Tincknell led the 20-minute Norisring reverse-grid race from start to finish this evening to rack up his second British Formula 3 win of the season. After struggling in qualifying and finishing the first race eighth overall, the Devonian started from the pole and took full advantage of it.

Tincknell was shadowed from the beginning by Fortec’s Felix Serralles, the Puerto Rican making a superb start from fourth on the grid to slot into second on the opening lap, ahead of Euro F3 runners Felix Rosenqvist and Pascal Wehrlein.

Serralles chased Tincknell as hard as he dared, never allowing the leader’s advantage to extend beyond one second, but had in the end to settle for the second step of the podium.

As with the day’s earlier race there were incidents galore, including wall-bashing early on from Double R’s Fahmi Ilyas and T-Sport’s Nick McBride. Ilyas retired to the pits but McBride was able to continue after a pit call. A brief Safety Car period did little to disturb Tincknell’s composure.

“I knew that I had to get off the line and get into the first corner first,” said Harry, “because that would make my life quite a bit easier. Then the safety car came out and I had to make sure I had a good restart. From there it was a question of controlling the race.

“We went quite radical in race one with no rear wing; we went back on that for this race. The team have done a great job for me; to qualify 15th and to have had a third and a win – in F3 on a street track – makes it a really special day and I am really happy for all the guys. I got my confidence back at Rockingham with my win and things are just getting better and better.”

Serralles was pleased with his performance also: “I started fourth and got another great start, picking up two places. It’s a great result. Fortec did a fantastic job and I’m happy with all the points I have scored today. I couldn’t catch Harry – he was quicker in some places and me in others – but that’s the way racing is.”

Jack Harvey made major gains from the chaos of the opening lap, leaping from 13th overall on the grid to eighth, and third in terms of the British championship runners. Racing Steps Foundation driver Harvey picked up a further place when Euro man Sven Muller retired on the seventh lap and held on for the duration of the race to claim the final step of the British podium.

With that prize for Harvey went the championship lead: erstwhile points-topper Jazeman Jaafar endured a torrid time, brushing the wall and suffering contact with another car. The Malaysian finished 14th overall, and seventh in the British class.

Fourth of the British series contenders was race one victor Pietro Fantin, who would have been closer to the sharp end but for losing a lot of ground on the opening lap, with Fortec’s Alex Lynn fifth, ahead of his team-mate Hannes van Asseldonk. Double R’s Geoff Uhrhane took eighth behind Jaafar, with Pipo Derani ninth from the back of the grid after his race one retirement. McBride recovered from his early damage to 10th in class, a lap in arrears.

In the National class, Spike Goddard ran home the winner for the second time today for the T-Sport team, beating his Double R rival Duvashen Padayachee to the line by 10.4s.

Carlos Sainz suffered his third no-score in as many races, the Carlin man retiring after 18 laps with gearbox problems.

Formula 3 Euroseries

Daniel Juncadella wins action-packed race

After an action-packed race, Daniel Juncadella (Prema Powerteam) claimed victory in the tenth season round of the Formula 3 Euro Series, which also counts towards the FIA European Formula 3 Championship. The Spaniard received the trophy from Gerhard Berger, the president of the FIA single-seater commission. William Buller (Carlin) finished second, Emil Bernstorff (ma-con Motorsport) ended up as the best-placed rookie in third. For the Brit, it was his first podium finish in the Formula 3 Euro Series.

Raffaele Marciello (Prema Powerteam) took the lead at the start, but had to hand over first place to Daniel Juncadella on the opening lap already. The Spaniard remained in the lead until lap 34, when he ran too wide at the Dutzendteich hairpin. Pascal Wehrlein (Mücke Motorsport) took the chance and went past. On lap 40, Juncadella wanted to counter, but collided with the race leader in the process, turning the latter around. While approaching the Schöller-S, he couldn’t avoid a collision with Marciello after which the Italian retired. William Buller and Emil Bernstorff took over second and third place behind Juncadella, who remains in the lead of the Formula 3 Euro Series.

Daniel Juncadella (Prema Powerteam): “I was in the lead, but then I made a slight mistake and Pascal overtook me. Soon after that, he made a mistake, from which I wanted to benefit, so I dove into the gap. Unfortunately, Pascal left me no room. What exactly happened with Raffaele Marciello soon after that, I don’t really know. I am sorry that he retired after the collision. Nevertheless, I am pleased with my performance.”

William Buller (Carlin): “Of course, I benefited form the fact that Pascal Wehrlein and Raffaele Marciello retired in front of me. But as a team, we have closed up the gap to the front runners in such a way that we are there to benefit when these situations occur.”

Emil Bernstorff (ma-con Motorsport): “Admittedly, we didn’t have the same speed as the front-runners, but I moved up into third place after the two retirements in front of me. We have decided to join the Euro Series only three weeks prior to the start of the season and in the meantime, we have learned a lot.”

Formula 3 Euroseries

Maiden fastest qualifying time for rookie Pascal Wehrlein

Pascal Wehrlein (Mücke Motorsport, 0:49.100 minutes) became the first rookie to claim pole position in a Formula 3 Euro Series qualifying session this year. At the 2.3 kilometres long Norisring, the German demoted Italian Raffaele Marciello (Prema Powerteam, 0:49.120 minutes) to second place and will start from first place into Sunday’s race as a result. In warm conditions, William Buller (Carlin, 0:49.238 minutes) and Daniel Juncadella (Prema Powerteam, 0:49.328 minutes) ended up third and fourth in the field of 28 drivers. In the ranking of the second-fastest lap times, Marciello came out on top and will thus be starting from pole position into the first race of the weekend.

In qualifying, which had to be postponed to today because of damage to the track, the ambitious young drivers turned out to be very disciplined. Initially, William Buller, Daniel Juncadella and Raffaele Marciello were battling for the lead. Only a few seconds before the end of the 30 minutes’ session, Pascal Wehrlein moved up into first place and defended this position until the end. After Carlos Sainz (Carlin, 0:49.571 minutes), Daniel Juncadella and Felix Rosenqvist (Mücke Motorsport, 0:49.864 minutes) is the fourth different driver in as many qualifying sessions held this season to come out on top of the time sheets.

At the Norisring in Nuremberg, the lap times of 25 of the 28 drivers were within one second from first-placed Pascal Wehrlein.

Pascal Wehrlein (Mücke Motorsport): “With the first set of tyres, it wasn’t optimal, but with the second set, it went better. I only managed to find a clear lap just before the end and I was able to claim first place. This is my first time at Norisring and I have to admit that the track is more difficult than it looks at first sight.”

Raffaele Marciello (Prema Powerteam): “My qualifying was good, I am happy with second and first place. Being on one of the positions in front is important. I was able to do consistently fast lap times for three or four laps in a row, although finding a clear lap with 28 cars on track isn’t easy. The track is particularly challenging because of its many bumps, but since Pau, I like street circuits.”

World Series by Renault

Mixed conditions for FR 3.5 stars in Germany

The 26 drivers in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series field had both wet and dry track conditions to deal with today at the Nürburgring. Kevin Magnussen (Carlin) clocked the best time in the dry, while Nico Müller (International Draco Racing) was the fastest man in the rain. Once again, rain or no rain, there is very little to separate the drivers.

There are two notable changes to the entry list for the Formula Renault 3.5 Series this weekend. Brazilian driver Cesar Ramos, 11th overall in the competition in 2011 and third in the Rookie division, replaces Lotus driver Richie Stanaway, who is currently recovering from injury in Cap Breton. Antonio Felix de Costa, recruited recently by Red Bull Junior Team, is the other new face, and he will be making his debut in the completion for Arden Caterham. The Portuguese driver, third in the 2009 Eurocup Formula Renault and winner of the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC the same year, steps in to replace Lewis Williamson.

It was Robin Frijns (Fortec Motorsport), Kevin Magnussen (Carlin) and Alexander Rossi (Arden Caterham) who started the morning session brightest, before Marco Sorensen (Lotus) took control of proceedings. Magnussen’s flying lap of 1:42.719 eclipsed Sebastian Vettel’s effort of 1:42.984, which until today had been the Formula Renault 3.5 track record at the Nürburgring.

The red flag came out to interrupt the session for the first time after Lucas Foresti (Dams) went off the track. After the track had been cleared, Nick Yelloly (Comtec Racing) moved top of the timesheets with a lap of 1:42.428, before Magnussen, on fresh rubber, increased the pace even further. With a flying lap of 1:41.677, the Danish driver recorded the best time of the morning session to finish top of the pile, ahead of Yelloly and Carlos Huertas.

The afternoon brought a change in conditions, characterised by a wet track and heavy rainfall. The session began with a collision between Will Stevens (Carlin) and Walter Grubmüller (P1 Motorsport). Russian pair Daniil Move (P1 Motorsport) and Mikhail Aleshin (Team RFR) set the pace, despite both drivers taking detours into the gravel trap.

The rain eased towards the end of the session, and this was reflected in the lap times. Yelloly, Alexander Rossi and Nico Müller traded first place lap after lap, with the latter eventually finishing top at the end of a decidedly wet session. The Swiss driver finished ahead of Rossi, Sorensen and newcomers Cesar Ramos and Antonio Felix da Costa.

Nico Müller: “When the track is dry, you really need to have a bit of luck to get the right lap at the right time, because the peak performance of the tyres lasts a very short time. I’ve been in the leading group since the start of the season, but I’m just missing that little extra something to turn it into results. In the dry I’m short of those few tenths that make the difference, but in the wet we’re right up there.”

Cesar Ramos: “These were obviously my first laps in the new car. I haven’t driven a single racing car since October 2011, aside from a few laps in a go-kart. I’m going to need a bit of time to get back into the rhythm. I’ve been impressed by the downforce of this car and its cornering speed. The braking is also very good and the DRS is an interesting feature. I immediately felt comfortable at the wheel of the car.”

Antonio Felix da Costa: “This car is a learning experience. I’m starting from scratch and I have a lot to learn. The car is quick and the team seems very efficient, so everything is there for us to do well. I was lucky enough to drive a Formula One car during the Young Driver Test in 2010. That experience helps me a bit, as there’s quite a big difference between the GP3 and the Formula Renault 3.5. Joining Red Bull Junior Team is a huge opportunity. My goal is to become a Formula One driver, and I know that succeeding with Red Bull is the best way to get there.”

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