LANCE STROLL CLAIMS EARLY MID SEASON TITLE WITH VICTORY
Event: 05 Norisring
Session: Race 1
Track: Norisring, Germany
Pole position: Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam)
Race winner: Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam)
Weather: sunny, 25.4 °C
For Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam), everything went according to plan in the first of three FIA Formula 3 European Championship races at the 2.3 kilometres long Norisring. The 17-year-old Williams Formula 1 junior driver won an action-packed race from Niko Kari (Motopark) as the best-placed rookie, George Russell (HitechGP), Ralf Aron (Prema Powerteam), Ben Barnicoat (HitechGP), and Nick Cassidy (Prema Powerteam). Callum Ilott (Van Amersfoort Racing), runner-up in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship standings behind Stroll, retired following a collision with Joel Eriksson (Motopark), who was leading the race at the time. Another driver to retire was Maximilian Günther (Prema Powerteam), third in the drivers’ standings. Thus, Stroll was able to extend his points’ lead in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship to a margin of 63 points, securing him the unofficial half-time title with two races to spare.
At the start, Lance Stroll took the lead, but he was under pressure from Joel Eriksson from the very beginning. On lap four, the Swede, who was announced as a new BMW Motorsport junior driver yesterday, mounted an attack on the Canadian and moved up into the lead. Meanwhile, Callum Ilott, who had to start the race from twelfth place following an engine change, moved up further and further through the ranks and had closed the gap to Eriksson and Stroll on lap 17. On lap 20, the Brit braked too late for the Grundig hairpin and collided with Eriksson, causing both drivers to retire. Stroll inherited the lead and the safety car neutralised the race for a few laps.
Soon after racing resumed, Sérgio Sette Câmara (Motopark) and Guanyu Zhou (Motopark) collided while battling for third place and retired as well. After this incident, the safety car was deployed for the second time. After the second restart, things didn’t go entirely as planned either. While Lance Stroll held on to his first place, Pedro Piquet (Van Amersfoort Racing) and Harrison Newey (Van Amersfoort Racing) collided while battling for tenth place. Thus, Newey’s race came to an early end.
Out in front, Lance Stroll drove an undisputed victory home. Finnish driver Niko Kari ended up as the best-placed rookie in second place overall from New Zealand’s Nick Cassidy. After the finish, the New Zealander was given a five seconds’ penalty for a safety car infringement. Thus, George Russell, Ralf Aron and Ben Barnicoat were classified ahead of Cassidy, Mikkel Jensen (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), Anthoine Hubert (Van Amersfoort Racing), Pedro Piquet, and David Beckmann (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) rounded out the top ten.
Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam): “My start was good, but after a few laps already, Joel Eriksson managed to overtake me. I have to admit that it really was a good move by him. Later, Callum Ilott closed up to the two of us, but he missed his braking point and collided with Joel. Like that, I inherited the lead, but I also felt sorry for Joel as there was nothing he could do about the incident. For me, this victory and the 25 points are great, of course.”
Niko Kari (Motopark): “Initially, I lost a few positions, but then my pace improved and I concentrated to getting further up to the front. This weekend, I am racing at the Norisring for the first time, but I found my way quickly. Perhaps, that is also thanks to the fact that we have race tracks like this in Finland as well.”