Season race: 27 of 33
Track: Autódromo Internacional do Algarve
Winner: Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam)
Pole position: Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam)
Weather: sunny and warm

Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam) concluded the FIA Formula 3 European Championship weekend at the 4.684 kilometres long Autódromo Internacional do Algarve with his ninth victory of the season. Behind the 23-year-old Swede, who extended his lead in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship standings, Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam) and Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam) finished second and third. The Canadian also picked up the trophy for the best-placed rookie. George Russell (Carlin), Sérgio Sette Câmara (Motopark) and Pietro Fittipaldi (Fortec Motorsports) rounded out the top six in the 27th race of the FIA Formula 3 European Championshp season. Rosenqvist is now 34.5 points ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin), who is second in the drivers’ standings with six races remaining.

In bright sunshine, Felix Rosenqvist made perfect use of his pole position and took the lead at the start. On the first few metres, Jake Dennis and Lance Stroll slotted in behind him. Markus Pommer (Motopark) and Maximilian Günther (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) collided while still on the opening lap and retired. The safety car was deployed to allow for the cars of the two Germans to be recovered.

At the restart on lap five, Prema driver Rosenqvist was wide awake and remained in the lead. Further down the order, Antonio Giovinazzi overtook rookie drivers Callum Ilott (Carlin) and Dorian Boccolacci (Signature) and claimed eighth place. In the race, that particularly provided action in the midfield with numerous overtaking manoeuvres, the Italian went on to finish eighth behind Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing). Nick Cassidy (Prema Powerteam) and Dorian Boccolacci rounded out the top ten in ninth and tenth place respectively. For New Zealander Cassidy, who made his FIA Formula 3 European Championship comeback in Portugal, this result brought him the first two championship points.

Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam): “I was particularly cautious at the start, because I wanted to avoid a collision with my team-mates. After that, I mainly focussed on my tyres as they weren’t the freshest anymore. Therefore, I tried to maintain the gap to Jake at one second. I reckon that we have done a great job as a team here and we have shown that we are the fastest. As far as the championship is concerned, I am working from one race to another. Here at Portimão, things were going really well for me, but that can change quickly. Therefore, we have to keep working and stay focussed until the end of the season.”

Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam): “My tyres were newer than Felix’s, but I wasn’t able to benefit from this advantage. At no point in the race I was able to get closer than one second. All of a sudden, I saw that there were only three laps to go – I thought that the race would still be longer at that point. From then on, I did my utmost, but second place was all I could manage. In the final two meetings at the Nürburgring and Hockenheim, I will keep on pushing, because in fourth place of the drivers’ standings, I have nothing to lose.”

Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam): “For me, it was a pretty straightforward race without a lot of action. My start wasn’t good, probably the worst of the season. As a result, I lost one place to Jake. For large parts of the race, I was able to keep up with Felix and Jake, but towards the end, I was no longer able to do so and I had to let them go. I still have to work on keeping up my performance until the end of the race.



American passes Vandoorne for win in feature race
Alexander Rossi came to Monza this weekend to peg back Stoffel Vandoorne’s lead in the drivers’ championship, and this afternoon he did just that: the American trailed the McLaren test driver for lap after lap before blasting past on lap 23 en route to a storming victory in today’s feature race from Vandoorne and Mitch Evans.
Poleman Pierre Gasly made a strong start when the lights went out to hold the lead of the race into Rettifilio, while fellow front row starter Vandoorne was slow off the line, handing Alex Lynn a line inside and through. Further back Rossi, who was P9 out of turn one, had the first lap of his life to cross the line in P5, putting him in prime position to watch Sergey Sirotkin relegate Vandoorne to P4 on the next lap before a safety car emerged for Meindert van Buuren’s broken car after the Dutch rookie found the wall at Ascari.
The race went live again on lap 5, with Vandoorne surprising his rivals by stopping next time through to switch to primes: most of the top ten started on the option tyre, and now had to look at when to stop to avoid the Belgian jumping them all. Gasly stopped from the lead on lap 8, emerging just behind Vandoorne and with a loose right rear to compound his problems, undoing the Frenchman’s good work completely when he soon retired. Lynn, Sirotkin and Rossi stopped next time through, with the Russian making short work of the Series leader for a provisional lead two laps later.
Unfortunately for Sirotkin, Lynn ran too deep at turn one next time through, with the resultant damage eventually halting both men’s races and handing the advantage back to Vandoorne, but Rossi sat behind his rival for lap after lap, waiting for his moment to pounce,  while at the front  Richie Stanaway and Artem Markelov fought tooth and nail to hang onto the lead on track before their eventual stops, ahead of Norman Nato and Rene Binder.
The lead pair finally stopped on lap 21 before re-commencing their battle, with the new lead pairing both stopping next time round as Rossi lined up to strike: on lap 23 the American unleashed, sliding inside Vandoorne at the Rettifillio for the lead of the race. The Belgian threw everything he had at his rival, but the American had him covered for his second win of the season.
Norman Nato finished a fine third on track, but a 5 second penalty for speeding in the pitlane undid his good work, dropping the Frenchman to P6 on the classification: Mitch Evans was the primary beneficiary after a superb drive from 23rd at the start all the way to the podium, making up for yesterday’s disappointment and holding off countryman Richie Stanaway after a late race battle, with Markelov in P5 ahead of Nato. Arthur Pic held off Jordan King, who will start tomorrow’s sprint race from pole, while Robert Visiou and Binder claimed the final points on offer.



F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton did what just about everyone expected, namely claim pole for the Italian Grand Prix but few would have imagined that Ferrari would be firmly in the hunt as Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel chased hard to qualify second and third on ‘home’ soil.

Hamilton’s demure demeanour as he alighted from his Mercedes after qualifying suggested that he was aware that he will have a mighty job on his hands come Sunday. His best lap time of 1:23.397 was set on his first run in Q3, and in the end was almost a quarter second up on Raikkonen who claimed a front row start slot for the first time since 2013.

It was also the Finn’s first top six qualifying at Monza  since 2009, the year in which he was last on the podium in Italy.

Mercedes have taken their 23rd pole position in succession, leaving them one short of Williams’ all-time mark of 24, set during the combined 1992 and 1993 seasons.

Vettel will head up row two, the Ferrari pair the meat in the Silver Arrows sandwich as Nico Rosberg ended fourth fastest, unable to match his pole winning teammate and title rival all weekend thus far.

Both Williams’ came good in their final runs with Felipe Massa and Valtterri Bottas, ending fifth and sixth respectively and set to share the third row of the grid.



Season race: 26 and 27 of 33
Track: Autódromo Internacional do Algarve
Pole position race 2: Alexander Albon (Signature)
Pole position race 3: Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam)
Weather: sunny and windy

In an exciting second qualifying of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship at the 4.684 kilometres long Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, Alexander Albon (Signature) came out on top. The 19-year-old London-based Thai was 0.027 seconds faster than Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam), who is second on the grid. Nick Cassidy (Prema Powerteam) and Lance Stoll (Prema Powerteam) are on the second row of the starting grid for the 26th season race of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam) and Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) are on the third row. In the ranking of the second-fastest laps, used to determine the starting grid positions for the third race, Rosenqvist was fastest from Stroll, Dennis, George Russell (Carlin), Gustavo Menezes (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) and Mikkel Jensen (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport).

Starting grid race 2

The outcome of qualifying was open until the very end: drivers alternated in front all the time until the chequered flag was out. Eventually, Alexander Albon (1:41.976 minutes) was fastest and celebrated his third pole position in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. The Prema quartet Felix Stroll (1:42.003 minutes), Nick Cassidy (1:42.066 minutes), Lance Stroll (1:42.070 minutes) and Jake Dennis (1:42.135 minutes) had to make do with second to fifth place behind the rookie driver after Rosenqvist, Stroll and Cassidy all had temporarily been on top of the timing screens. Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, 1:42.171 minutes), the FIA Formula 3 European Championship points’ leader, ended up sixth in the session from his team-mate Gustavo Menezes (1:42.230 minutes), George Russell (1:42.291 minutes), Dorian Boccolacci (Signature, 1:42.400 minutes) and Pietro Fittipaldi (Fortec Motorsports, 1:42.420 minutes). The Brazilian, grandson of two times’ Formula 1 world champion Emerson Fittipaldi, was in first place with five minutes remaining, but wasn’t able to hold onto this position until the end.

Starting grid race 3

In the ranking of the second-fastest laps, Felix Rosenqvist (1:42.014 minutes) was fastest from Lance Stroll (1:42.074 minutes), Jake Dennis (1:42.256 minutes), George Russell (1:42.327 minutes), Gustavo Menezes (1:42.370 minutes), Mikkel Jensen (1:42.540 minutes), Sérgio Sette Câmara (Motopark, 1:42.564 minutes), Markus Pommer (Motopark, 1:42.592 minutes), Pietro Fittipaldi (1:42.597 minutes) and Callum Ilott (Carlin, 1:42.647 minutes).

Alexander Albon (Signature): “It is really amazing! The lap was pretty good, but I didn’t think it would be enough to end up fastest. On Tuesday and Wednesday in testing, I was well down the order, but we changed almost everything we could. We went top to bottom, we eliminated what worked and what didn’t, and the efforts have paid off. I really can’t thank the team enough for the job they have been doing. At Norisring, I was on pole as well, and since then, I also have been working very hard on my starts, so let’s wait and see what that will bring…”

Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam): “That was a really intense qualifying! I think there were five guys doing the same lap times, and most of them also happened to be team-mates of mine. To be honest, I didn’t even know I was on pole for race three. Here, you always need a little bit of luck with the wind. On one lap, you can easily be 5 km/h faster down the straight than the lap before, or the next lap, so there was a little bit of luck involved as well, but all of us drove quite well. I felt like being on the limit, there wasn’t much more left. In first qualifying, it didn’t quite work out for me, but now, I am happy with my pole position for race three.”



Pierre Gasly has opened his Monza weekend in fine style by taking the top spot in this morning’s free practice session at the fabled Italian circuit: the Frenchman stopped the clock at 1:31.669 early in the session for a time which went unanswered by his rivals, with Alexander Rossi and Rio Haryanto the closest to his best lap.
The session opened in sunny conditions which saw all of the field straight out on track. Rossi, Rene Binder and Sergey Sirotkin swapped the top spot between them in the opening minutes: Gasly claimed it as his own 11 minutes into the session before going even faster two minutes later to set a time which was not to be matched.
Not for a lack of trying, though: McLaren tester Stoffel Vandoorne claimed P2 within minutes, but it wasn’t until late in the session that Haryanto pipped the Belgian, with Rossi outdoing the Indonesian driver with just 3 minutes remaining in the session.
With little in the way of off-track escapades throughout the session times were extremely tight: behind the top three Vandoorne, Binder, Sirotkin, Richie Stanaway, Alex Lynn, Arthur Pic and Mitch Evans will all think they have a shot when it counts, in this afternoon’s qualifying session just a few hours from now.



WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING is pleased to confirm that the partnership of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas will be retained for a third season in the 2016 FIA Formula One World Championship.
Felipe joined the team for the 2014 season and has so far scored one pole position, at the 2014 Austrian Grand Prix, and four podium finishes. His experience of more than a decade at the pinnacle of Formula One is a valuable asset to the team.
Valtteri is one of the sport’s most promising talents, with seven podiums to his name in the last two seasons. He has developed as a driver at Williams from being a future prospect, through our development programme, to now being one of the most sought-after drivers on the Formula One grid.
Speaking about the announcement Felipe Massa said; “I am very happy to be a part of the Williams family. I am in my second year here and am so pleased to be staying as we are working very well together as a team. They respect me a lot and the results are there, and it has been so nice to be part of the big turnaround the team has seen since the end of 2013. I can’t wait to carry on and continue pushing even more for the team, and for myself. Thank you to Frank, Claire, Mike, Pat and the whole Williams team for their ongoing support and belief in me, as we build on what is already a great relationship.”
Valtteri Bottas added; “I am really pleased to be staying with the team for a fourth F1 race season. We have been getting stronger as a team and I look forward to what next year will bring, as I believe we can achieve even stronger results than what we have seen so far. I can’t wait for 2016, however I am still fully focused on this season as we still have plenty of challenges to achieve. I must thank Frank, Claire, Mike, the Board, and everyone at Williams for their continued trust in me.”
Sir Frank Williams, Founder and Team Principal, said; “I’m delighted to confirm that Felipe and Valtteri will be racing for Williams once again next year. Stability is key for any team to thrive in Formula One, so to be able to enter a third season with one of the strongest driver line-ups on the grid puts Williams in a fantastic position to continue its momentum towards the front of the grid in 2016.
Felipe’s blend of experience and raw speed is a rare attribute in Formula One. Felipe thrives in an environment where he is valued and can build a long-term relationship and we are delighted that he has become such an important part of the Williams family.
Valtteri has become such a staple of Williams that we are as excited about the prospect of his potential as a championship contender as we are about returning the Williams name to the top of Formula One.
Felipe and Valtteri quickly developed an exceptional working relationship from the beginning of 2014 and, while they remain fiercely competitive as rivals, they have always recognised the value of their collaboration in driving the team up the grid. Their shared work has given the technical team at Williams the best possible guidance in how to deliver the performance needed to carry the team forward, and both drivers have played a pivotal role in the rejuvenation of Williams.
The successes we’ve enjoyed over the past two seasons would not have been possible without them, and they will play an essential role in the targets we aim to deliver in the future.”

The Premiere Motorsport Podcast