Championship leader Roberto Merhi stormed to his 6th win of the 2011 F3 Euroseries season, fighting his way past Daniel Juncadella early on to lead home a Spanish, and Prema Powerteam 1-2. Felix Rosenqvist meanwhile, was worked hard by Nigel Melker to earn the final spot on the podium.
Under cloudy skies at the shortened NÃ¼rburgring circuit, Juncadella made a clean getaway from pole position, while Merhi struggled off the line. The championship leader was forced to defend from 3rd placed Felix Rosenqvist, but the Swede couldn’t capitalise into Turn 1. By only the 4th corner however, Merhi already claimed back his disadvantage and dived past Juncadella and into the lead before the end of the opening lap. The Spaniard would never look back, claiming victory after 29 laps at the front.
“The race was great.” Merhi said, “I was able to overtake Daniel on the opening lap and then pull a gap. In previous years, Prema never was among the front runners at the NÃ¼rburgring, but this year, the car is really great.”
Juncadella was more downcast than his team-mate: “After the start, I was still first, but I missed my braking point for the third corner and Roberto started an attack, which came as a surprise to me. After that, he was slightly faster and there was nothing more I could do. Now, I hope that I can win the race on Sunday, in which I am starting from pole position again.”
While Juncadella watched Merhi sprint off into the distance, a race-long battle for the final step on the podium between Nigel Melker and Felix Rosenqvist began. Despite massive pressure from Melker, Rosenqvist never cracked, forcing his MÃ¼cke Motorsport team-mate to settle for 4th.
“My start was good, but against the two Prema drivers Roberto and Dani, I didn’t have a chance. Rosenqvist said, “Still, I gave everything, I was on the limit every lap, just like in qualifying, and I was able to pull a gap over my team-mate Nigel Melker. I think it was one of my best races.”
Signature team-mates Laurens Vanthoor and Marco Wittmann – both race winners and championship hopefuls – could only manage 5th and 6th respectively, allowing Merhi to extend his championship lead with yet another victory.
Gianmarco Raimondo drove well to claim 7th place, he will start on the front row behind 8th placed Kimiya Sato for Round 17 on Saturday afternoon.
Merhi’s championship points lead now increases to 48 points ahead of Wittmann, who must be eyeing victory from 3rd on the grid in Race 2.
Round 17 Begins at 6pm Local Time (BST +1)