Felix Rosenqvist emerged victorious in the RTL GP Masters of F3 2011 at Zandvoort this afternoon, as Prema team-mates Roberto Merhi and Daniel Juncadella clashed off the start-line. The Swedish youngster managed to avoid the clumsy incident, before maturely leading home Marco Wittmann and Kevin Magnussen to take the win.
With an all Spanish and Prema Powerteam front-row lock out, many were expecting a straightforward demonstration in domination from Merhi, who had taken many F3 Euroseries and FIA Formula 3 International Trophy victories in similar fashion throughout the season. However, a poor start from the pole-sitter forced him to go defensive against Juncadella, but his compatriot was already alongside. Contact was inevitable – their wheels interlocking as they were engulfed by the rest of the field before T1.
Merhi eventually wriggled free and continued with a bent front wing. Juncadella came off worse though, spearing off into the inside wall with terminal suspension damage. There was further action behind as Pipo Derani, also driving for Prema that weekend, swerved to avoid the struggling Spaniards and collected an unsuspecting Carlos MuÃ±oz in the process. Both were eliminated on the spot, cueing the safety car.
Meanwhile, Rosenqvist – starting in 3rd – inherited the lead ahead with Marco Wittmann and Carlin’s Magussen in tow. At the restart, Rosenqvist quickly managed to open a gap, and Wittmann could find no response to the MÃ¼cke Motorsport man’s pace. As 1st and 2nd settled into the race, Magnussen in 3rd came under increasing pressure from Nigel Melker. The pair were soon joined by Rupert Svendsen-Cook and Daniel Abt, but Magnussen kept the train at bay to claim the final step on the podium.
Melker came home 4th ahead of Svendsen-Cook, Abt and Laurens Vanthoor respectively. British F3 runner Lucas Foresti finished 8th for MÃ¼cke Motorsport, ahead of pole-sitter Roberto Merhi, who could only recover to 9th place overall. Jimmy Eriksson did well to avoid the carnage at the start and completed the top 10. It was a day to forget for Carlin drivers Jazemann Jaafar and Carlos Huertas in 11th and 12th, while Kimiya Sato was the final finisher.
Race winner Rosenqvist said afterwards: “Winning the Masters is great. Of course, I benefited from Roberto Merhi and Daniel Juncadella crashing, but I would rather have beaten them on the track. After the start, I was able to pull a gap on the drivers behind me and control the race.”
Wittmann was less than impressed with 2nd: “We were lacking the speed to keep up with Felix. We had problems during the last three race weekends and we weren’t able to compete for victory. Now, we have to analyse and work hard.”
Melker blamed the tight, twisty Zandvoort circuit for his 4th place finish: “My start was very good, but due to the collision between Roberto Merhi and Daniel Juncadella, I had to back off. After that, I was behind Kevin Magnussen, but I was much faster. As the track hardly provides any opportunities for overtaking, I couldn’t find a way past. Fourth place is all right, too. I am happy for my team-mate Felix Rosenqvist that he has won.”
In terms of the FIA Formula 3 International Trophy standings, runaway points leader Roberto Merhi was keen to wrap up the trophy at the Dutch venue and claim his Formula 1 Super Licence in the process. But despite his somewhat disastrous day, he finds himself in an unassailable position for the final round in Macau later this year. Wittmann consolidates his 2nd position in the standings ahead of Daniel Abt, whilst a 2nd consecutive International Trophy DNF for Juncadella puts him down to 4th.
Update: Roberto Merhi was summoned by the stewards immediately after the race, and was promptly disqualified entirely for his (major) role in the accident with Juncadella. However, as Marco Wittmann failed to score the victory that would have kept his chances mathematically alive, Merhi will still be crowned the inaugural FIA Formula 3 International Trophy champion in November at the final race in Macau.
You can watch the start line incident here.
- Rosenqvist – 42:19.944
- Wittmann – +5.182
- Magnussen – +23.934
- Melker – +24.507
- Svendsen-Cook – +26.170
- Abt – +27.232
- Vanthoor – +27.826
- Foresti – +28.944
- Eriksson – +30.337
- Jaafar – +40.802
- Huertas – +41.923
- Sato – +48.439
- MuÃ±oz – DNF +25laps
- Derani – DNF + 25laps
- Juncadella – DNF +25laps
- Merhi – DSQ