Victory in Round 18 for Daniel Juncadella ahead of team-mate Roberto Merhi rounded off an almost perfect weekend for the Prema racing team at the NÃ¼rburgring. Juncadella led from pole position and resisted race-long pressure from championship leader Merhi to claim his 4th win of the 2011 F3 Euroseries championship. After 29 laps the pair were over 17 seconds clear of 3rd place driver Nigel Melker, highlighting Prema’s impressive form over the weekend.
A solid start from Juncadella saw the Spaniard keep his lead into Turn 1, whilst Merhi jumped Melker off the line to slot in behind his team-mate. From there, the 2 Spaniards were locked in a battle of their own, quickly gapping Melker, who had no response for the Prema pair’s pace. Merhi mounted huge pressure on Juncadella as the race progressed, occasionally forcing the leader onto the defensive line to keep Merhi at bay. Juncadella never faltered though, and drove faultlessly to the flag with Merhi only 0.8s behind.
“For me, winning this race was important after starting from pole position.” Juncadella said, “Throughout the race, I couldn’t pull clear from Roberto, who was behind me. However, I remained calm and just looked ahead.”
Merhi was happy with 2nd, and finally revealed his eye for the title: “Yesterday was a great day for me with wins in both Formula 3 Euro Series races. My start was really good and I almost took the lead. I didn’t take too many risks in the battle for victory, because for me, it is the title that counts, and second places bring many points, too.”
Most of the excitement came from the battle for the final podium place between Nigel Melker and Felix Rosenqvist – the pair swapping places throughout. Both were keen to escape the clutches of Signature runners Laurens Vanthoor and Marco Wittmann respectively, but they soon broke free with Melker emerging on top. Vanthoor and Wittmann finished in 5th and 6th to end an underwhelming weekend for the championship hopefuls.
“My start wasn’t good, I have lost one place to Roberto.” Melker said, “But I think that I wouldn’t have been able to keep him behind me in the race anyway, the Prema cars were simply too quick here. However, I am also happy with my third place.”
Juncadella’s victory promotes him to 2nd in the championship, pushing the bullish Wittmann even further away from the 2011 title. Merhi’s points lead increased yet again, now with a 64 point advantage over his team-mate and the title within his grasp.