Haryanto holds on for sprint win

Rio Haryanto has claimed his second win of the season in this morning’s sprint race in Spielberg with a drive of skill, speed and cunning to defy series leader Stoffel Vandoorne and Nobuharu Matsushita despite driving with a broken front wing for the second half of the race.
The Indonesian driver started as he meant to go on, making a great getaway as the lights went out to outdrag poleman Nick Yelloly on the inside line into turn one. Alexander Rossi tried to go to the outside but three into one didn’t fit: the American and the Briton collided, Rossi dropped back but continued, but Yelloly’s race was run.
The collision handed second place to Artem Markelov, who had the ART teammates on his rear wing after another yet quick getaway from the McLaren test driver. The Russian was pushing with everything he had for his first win, but Haryanto was equal to the challenge, defending well in the braking areas and pulling away just enough in the fast sections to cover everything off.
On lap 13 Markelov’s frustration spilled over, going late for a gap that was only half there with the Russian throwing himself up the inside as Haryanto braked: the Indonesian saw him at the last minute and opened his car but was unable to avoid him, breaking his right front wing as he tapped the back of Markelov as he ran wide. The Russian ran through the gravel but got going again, and now the Indonesian had Vandoorne on his tail.
The Belgian likewise threw everything he had at his rival, dreaming of a double win for the record books, but equally knew that pressure from behind via Matsushita and Sergey Sirotkin meant that someone was going to miss out on a podium. Haryanto’s top speed wasn’t what it should have been because of the damage, but he was looking to fulfil dreams of his own.
And at the line he had done enough: Haryanto denied Vandoorne, Matsushita and Sirotkin for the win, with just 1.3 seconds covering the four drivers. Mitch Evans had a quiet race for P5, while behind him Pierre Gasly just held off Jordan King for P6, while Alexander Rossi made a last ditch stab at the final point, crossing the line on the same time but just centimetres behind the nose of Markelov.
Vandoorne’s title ambitions were given yet another boost with the win and second place, now leading Rossi by 155 points to 78, while Haryanto closed up to 70 points ahead of Sirotkin on 46, Alex Lynn on 42 and Evans on 35 points, while in the teams’ title race ART Grand Prix are pulling further away on 184 points ahead of Racing Engineering on 96, Campos Racing on 91, DAMS on 62 and Rapax on 58 points as the grid looks ahead to the next round in Silverstone.


Dennis continues strong performance and takes fourth season win

Season race: 15 of 33
Track: Spa-Francorchamps
Winner: Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam)
Pole position: Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam)
Weather: overcast, drying track

British driver Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam) won the 15th season race of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. At the 7.004 kilometres long Formula 1 circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, he finished ahead of the two rookie drivers Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing) and George Russell (Carlin), who came second and third respectively. Because his fiercest rival Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) only finished 15th, Monegasque Leclerc extended his lead in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship drivers’ standings. The race at the roller-coaster circuit in the Ardennes provided first-class entertainment for the spectators with many overtaking manoeuvres and the first kilometres in the lead of a race for Tatiana Calderón (Carlin), the only female driver in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship field.

At the start, Mikkel Jensen (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) took the lead from Jake Dennis, while the first drivers already spun off the track that was still damp. On lap two, Dorian Boccolacci (Signature) and Sérgio Sette Câmara (Motopark) collided while in the top five. The incident brought the safety car out. At the restart, Jensen held on to his first place, but soon came under pressure by Tatiana Calderón. The Columbian, who had the advantage of rain tyres at that point, moved up into the lead on lap five and remained in the top three for a few laps. Only on lap nine, she had to give in as the track became too dry for rain tyres. The Carlin driver, who was the first-ever lady racer to lead an FIA Formula 3 European Championship race, headed into the pits for a tyre change and eventually crossed the finish line in 18th place.

Meanwhile, Jake Dennis and Charles Leclerc were able to pull away out in front as Markus Pommer (Motopark) and Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam) collided in the battle for third place. Race control showed the black flag to the German, who had previously already been issued a drive-through penalty. Antonio Giovinazzi inherited third place, but wasn’t able to hold on to it for long. The Italian had to make a pit stop due to a loose front wing and dropped out of the top ten. Thus, third place went to Callum Ilott (Carlin), who lost it to his team-mate George Russell soon after that. Russell defended his place until the chequered flag was out while Ilott had to make do with fourth. Rosenqvist, Brandon Maïsano (Prema Powerteam), Alessio Lorandi (Van Amersfoort Racing), Maximilian Günther (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), Alexander Albon (Signature) and Pietro Fittipaldi (Fortec Motorsports) rounded out the top ten after an action-packed race.

Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam): “I have to admit that I had expected more safety car interventions. On lap five, I started sliding at the end of the long straight and Mikkel Jensen slid into the tyre stacks next to me. However, there was no contact between the two of us. After that, I was first until Tatiana overtook me. However, my engineer informed me that she was running with wet tyres. Soon after that, her tyres were worn out and I was able to move up into first place again. Then, it was all about not making any mistakes and safely bringing the car home.”

Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing): “After things didn’t go well for us in qualifying, I hadn’t expected such good results from the races. I am really happy that I was even able to extend my points’ lead today. With five laps remaining, I locked up under braking twice and I am sure I lost time. Perhaps, this was exactly the time I missed to put Jake under pressure once more.”

George Russell (Carlin): “I wasn’t happy with qualifying, but this race was great. My start was good and on the next laps, I concentrated on avoiding any mistakes. Before the start, I considered using wet tyres, but eventually, I opted for slicks after all. That was the right decision.”


Ghiotto claims maiden win in Spielberg thriller

What a race! Pole-sitter Luca Ghiotto lost the lead at the start but fought back impressively to dominate Race 1 in a safety car affected race. Carlin and Ferrari Academy Driver Antonio Fuoco carved his way through the field in supreme style to achieve his first podium in second position with Mercedes backed Esteban Ocon from ART Grand Prix in third.
Frenchman Ocon made the better start and got the jump on pole-sitter Ghiotto to take the lead. However, there were two stallers on the grid: Alex Palou (Campos Racing) who stalled from P3, but luckily was avoided by the pack. Unfortunately Carlin’s Mitchell Gilbert also stalled and Arden International’s Kevin Ceccon was unable to avoid the Australian and ran into the rear of his car. Samin Gomez also retired attempting to avoid Ceccon’s stricken car but there was nowhere to hide.
The safety car was deployed due to the debris on track and after four laps had passed with the cars having to drive through the pitlane, the safety car came back in with the action resuming. Ocon pulled a small advantage instantly at the re-start but ran wide into turn one. Ghiotto sensed his opportunity to pounce and was glued to the rear of his gearbox. Ocon braked too hard and locked up his tyres with Ghiotto looking ominous in his mirrors. On lap six, Ghiotto passed Ocon for the lead and posted the fastest lap as he set his marker to his rivals.
In third was Marvin Kirchhöfer with Emil Bernstorff and Sandy Stuvik (the Status Grand Prix debutant making an excellent start from P9 to P5) completing the top five. The Thai driver was embroiled in a battle with Bernstorff, the two going wheel to wheel.
Fuoco who started in P8 was on a mission and he certainly provided the large army of fans with plenty of entertainment. First he picked off Ralph Boschung, then Jann Mardenborough, Stuvik and Bernstorff. Kirchhöfer, who was holding onto the final rostrum place, ran wide under pressure from the Italian and Fuoco wasted no time grabbing third from the German.
At this point, Ghiotto had built up a five second lead over Ocon in second with Fuoco on the prowl. The Carlin rookie was soon on Ocon’s tail and had the move done and dusted but with a seven second deficit to race leader Ghiotto, which proved too large to capitalise on.
Bernstorff and Mardenborough were next to find their way through on Kirchhöfer and in the final laps all eyes were on the tussle for the last podium spot with Ocon having to withstand huge pressure from Bernstorff who was on the attack.
At the chequered flag, it was a jubilant Ghiotto who crossed the line first with a mammoth eleven second margin over Fuoco. Ocon just held on to third, with Bernstorff, Mardenborough, Kirchhöfer, Stuvik, Boschung, Oscar Tunjo and Alex Fontana rounding out the top ten.
A perfect day for Ghiotto saw him pocket the four bonus points for pole and the two extra for fastest lap. This puts the Trident driver into the lead of the Drivers’ Standings on 54. Ocon, Kirchhöfer, Bernstorff and Mardenborough are on 44, 35, 33 and 32 respectively.
ART Grand Prix heads the Teams’ Standings on 80m points. Carlin are second on 62, with Trident on 56.
Race 2 will commence at 09.25 local time tomorrow with Jenzer Motorsport’s Boschung starting from reverse pole.


Charles Leclerc decides thrilling three-way battle in his favour

Season race: 13 of 33
Track: Spa-Francorchamps
Winner: Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing)
Pole position: Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam)
Weather: overcast, drying track

After a thrilling battle, Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing) came out on top in the 13th season race of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. Thus, the rookie driver also took over the lead in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship drivers’ standings. Second place at the demanding 7.004 kilometres long Spa-Francorchamps Formula 1 circuit went to Swede Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam) while Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam wiuth Carlin), who came to Spa as the points’ leader, retired. Rookie driver Alexander Albon (Signature) scored his first FIA Formula 3 European Championship podium finish by coming home third, also securing the first top three result for his Signature team since the outfit’s Formula 3 return.

At the start of the race, Antonio Giovinazzi took the lead, but he wasn’t able to pull away from his rivals Felix Rosenqvist, Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam) and Charles Leclerc. Later on, Dennis dropped back, but Leclerc and especially Rosenqvist kept the leader under pressure. Rosenqvist and Giovinazzi alternated in the lead several times, until the two tangled in a duel. A few metres later, the Italian parked his car with a puncture while the Swede took the escape road and continued. Charles Leclerc took over the lead and brought it home safely, Rosenqvist took the chequered flag in second place.

Third place went to Alexander Albon, so that the driver from Thailand was allowed to take part in an FIA Formula 3 European Championship podium ceremony for the first time. Towards the halfway point of the race, he beat his rivals Jake Dennis and Santino Ferrucci (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) in the battle for fourth and moved up to third following Giovinazzi’s retirement. Ferrucci and Dennis ended up fourth and fifth from George Russell (Carlin), Mikkel Jensen (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), Pietro Fittipaldi (Fortec Motorsports), Fabian Schiller (Team West-Tec F3) and Alessio Lorandi (Van Amersfoort Racing). German driver Schiller, who is living only 150 kilometres away from Spa-Francorchamps, thus scored his first-ever FIA Formula 3 European Championship points.

Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing): “I was happy that I made a very good start. Things got a little bit close with Jake Dennis at Eau Rouge, so that I backed off first, only to overtake him soon after that. Then, I didn’t want to take too many risks in the battle for the lead with Antonio and Felix. Somehow, I saw the accident between the two of them coming, because it was really close between them.”

Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam): “My start wasn’t very good, because I was on the damp part of the track. In the battle with Antonio, there was contact. I was happy that I could continue and still save second place.”

Alexander Albon (Signature): “Being on the FIA Formula 3 European Championship podium for the first time is great, especially as I had an accident in second qualifying yesterday and ended up last. In the opening laps, I drove rather cautiously, because I first wanted to find out where the good places to overtake were. My car was fast throughout the weekend: I reckon we have been able to make another step forward

F1Weekly podcast # 682

The Host and Nasir give their Austrian Grand Prix preview.

GP2 Rapax driver quickest in opening session at Spielberg
Russian ace Sergey Sirotkin has had the perfect start to his Austrian weekend by setting up the fastest laptime of today’s free practice session in a blazing 1:14.880, three tenths clear of Mitch Evans. Series leader Stoffel Vandoorne completed the top three.
The session opened under grey skies and in cool conditions with the drivers feeding onto the Red Bull Ring track on Medium Pirelli tyres. Sirotkin was quick to set the early pace ahead of Pierre Gasly, until Vandoorne claimed the top spot lapping the Austrian track three tenths quicker than the Russian.
Fifteen minutes into the session, Sirotkin was the first man to dip under 1m16s, but Evans also improved and went top. As the grip levels bettered, Sirotkin was able to find some extra pace and clocked in a laptime of 1:14.880 which was enough for him to sit pretty at the top of the standings until the end of the session.
The proceedings were briefly halted with eleven minutes left on the clock after Gasly stopped his car on track at Turn 7 on mechanical gremlins. At the chequered flag, behind the top three, Alexander Rossi, Alex Lynn, Raffaele Marciello, Gasly, Rio Haryanto, Arthur Pic and Nick Yelloly rounded up the top ten and will be looking for more in this afternoon’s qualifying session.


Formula 3 European Championship ready for the Spa-Francorchamps challenge

Venue: Spa-Francorchamps
Track length: 7.004 kilometres
Lap record FIA F3 EC: Max Verstappen 2014 (2:11.111 minutes)
Distance: 15 laps

The fifth round of the 2015 FIA Formula 3 European Championship season will be held this weekend at the tradition-rich circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. With Eau Rouge, the 7.004 Ardennes rollercoaster features one of the most famous sections in the motor-racing world and the young drivers are keen on mastering this challenge. Just in his home event at Monza, Italy’s championship leader Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) failed to secure a podium – for the first time this year – so, he is determined to make it back to the rostrum, in Belgium. Tatiana Calderón (Carlin), the only woman in the field, has particularly fond memories of Spa-Francorchamps.

In the current season, Calderón who scored a total of 29 points last year still is waiting for her first points. So, it’s the same situation as last year when the 22 Colombian also travelled to Belgium with no points on her tally – to score her first points at the particularly challenging circuit of Spa-Francorchamps by finishing fifth in the second round of the meeting. On the following six race weekends, the fast Colombian established as regular top-10 contender and always left the race venues with additional points under her belt.

Meanwhile, Antonio Giovinazzi, Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing) and Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam) are battling for the positions on the very top of the championship standings, with the gap between the three drivers amounting to a total of just 22 points. At the same time, Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam) in fourth position works hard on closing the gap to the leading trio. The 19-year old Britain is the only one of these four drivers who already secured an FIA Formula 3 European Championship podium at Spa-Francorchamps. Even slightly more successful in last year’s FIA Formula 3 European Championship appearance at the Ardennes track than Dennis, who clinched a third place, was Gustavo Menezes (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin). The 20-year old American with Brazilian roots, currently 10th in the championship, secured two third positions last year, thus being the driver with the best Spa result under his belt on the 2015 grid.

Tatiana Calderón (Carlin): “I always look forward to Spa-Francorchamps as this circuit is just fantastic. Eau Rouge is particularly special although you can go flat out, there, with a Formula 3 car. The entire track is extremely varied – and I am talking not only about the traditionally very changeable Ardennes weather. There are slow, medium fast and several fast sections. You have to find a good set-up for your car and a suiting style of driving – a good compromise between aggressiveness and smoothness. And I think that’s what I succeeded in doing particularly well, last year. My goal for the forthcoming weekend: to score points as you are clearly more relaxed regarding the tasks to come when you have got the first points on your tally. This worked very well for me in 2014 and I hope I will be able to repeat it now.”