THE RAIN CAN’T STOP LANCE STROLL
Event: 07 Spa-Francorchamps
Session: race 1
Track: Spa-Francorchamps / Belgium
Pole position: Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam)
Race winner: Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam)
Weather: rain, 16.3 °C
17-year-old Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam) remained unfazed by the initially heavy rain at the 7.004 kilometres long Spa-Francorchamps circuit and won the 19th race of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship season. Behind the Williams Formula 1 team junior driver, Maximilian Günther (Prema Powerteam) took the flag in second place, followed by Ben Barnicoat (Hitech GP), who was the best-placed rookie driver in third place. With his seventh season win, Stroll extended his lead in the drivers’ standings. The Canadian now has 63 points more than his nearest rival, Maximilian Günther. In the rookie standings, Ben Barnicoat took the lead from Ralf Aron (Prema Powerteam) after his third overall podium finish of the year.
Due to the heavy rain, the race got underway behind the safety car. On lap six, the drivers were allowed to take on the Formula 1 circuit in the Belgian Ardennes at racing speed. Leader Lance Stroll immediately pulled a gap. A little bit further down, Ben Barnicoat came out on top with a strong manoeuvre in the battle for third with Nick Cassidy (Prema Powerteam). One lap later, George Russell (HitechGP) overtook Harrison Newey (Van Amersfoort Racing) for fifth place.
Although rain became less intense as the race went on, conditions remained difficult. However, the young drivers from the FIA Formula 3 European Championship generally showed a rather disciplined race. On lap ten, Weiron Tan (Carlin) spun and hit the tyre stacks with the rear of his car. To allow for his single-seater to be removed from the track, the safety car was deployed and led the field until the end of the race after twelve laps.
Thus, Lance Stroll claimed victory from his team-mate Maximilian Günther, Ben Barnicoat, Nick Cassidy, and George Russell. Harrison Newey (Van Amersfoort Racing) finishes sixth, the best FIA Formula 3 European Championship result to date for the British rookie driver. David Beckmann (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), Ralf Aron (Prema Powerteam), Ryan Tveter (Carlin), and Alessio Lorandi (Carlin) rounded out the top ten.
Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam): “The start behind the safety car was basically justified, because initially, it was really wet. Then, however, the track dried out and I reckon that the safety car could have come in one or two laps earlier as well. Once we were in racing conditions, I was able to pull a gap straight away. I had huge confidence in my car from the very beginning.”
Maximilian Günther (Prema Powerteam): “Just like Lance, I reckon that the safety car could have come in earlier, but when there are any doubts, it is better that the safety car stays out too long rather than too briefly. All in all, my race was good, I made no mistakes and I am happy with my podium finish and the points I have scored.”
Ben Barnicoat (HitechGP): “It seems as if things always seem to be going pretty well for me in the rain. I think that my lack of Formula 3 experience doesn’t play such a big role in the rain. Shortly after the safety car had pulled in, I was alongside Nick Cassidy going through the Raidillon. I really wanted that third place and I admit that I was a bit nervous at that moment, too, but I pulled it off and I brought third place home, with which I am very happy.”