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.
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.
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.
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.