For the second successive race weekend in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, the weather was to again play its part in the first race of the weekend at Hockenheim. The 29-strong grid lined up, with the track conditions challenging and clearly wet, with plenty of rain making its mark on the 4.574km circuit.
Raffaele Marciello led the field in the hazardous conditions, as the lights went out for the first race of the weekend, and built up an impressive 5 second lead by the end of the very first lap, even though he suffered a spin in the early goings. He had no real challenge from his closest rivals for most of the race, thereby securing a dominant win, as Lucas Auer suffered a spin going into the very first corner, dropping the youngster to ninth. Alex Lynn spun out as well, having a reoccurrence of one of the races at Silverstone, but was not able to make up ground this time around.
This then meant that Fortec Motorsports’ Félix Serrallés was the man to go about chasing the Italian, but it was not an easy task, but the Puerto Rican driver was able to close the gap to Marciello to 14.834 seconds at the end of the race, coming second in front of Eurointernational’s Tom Blomqvist, who secured a welcome podium finish for the first time.
Sven Muller was the best-placed German driver in the field, having overtaken Carlin Racing’s Harry Tincknell halfway through the race for fourth, with the ma-con driver securing his best race finish of the season so far. Fortec driver Josh Hill continues to keep his head held high with another credible finish in 6th place, showing that there is still more to come from the British racer.
Auer finished ahead of Felix Rosenqvist, who is still second in the driver’s standings, but sees the Italian driver extend his already gigantic lead even further. It is still early days yet, as anything can happen in racing, but the Italian is showing a greater composure in comparison with last year. Threebond with T-Sport’s William Buller and guest driver for Carlin, Daniil Kvyat rounded out the top ten.
Marciello was clearly a man brimming with confidence, with his Dallara-Mercedes looking like a well-planted race car, as he was not bothered by whether there was dry or wet conditions: “I had a hairy moment when I spun at the first corner. I was lucky not to hit the wall and to continue without any problems. I have a pretty comfortable lead in the drivers’ standings, but the season is still long and nothing has been decided yet.”
Serrallés was ecstatic with his maiden podium for Fortec, especially with the fact that this is their first season racing in the series: “I reckon that we, as a new team in the series, first had to get used to the tyres. Now, we definitely are working into the right direction. Nevertheless, Raffaele was much too fast for me today.”
Blomqvist may be the son of rally legend Stig, but he is making a name for himself on clear merit, as the Red Bull-backed driver was lucky to steer clear of any incidents early on: “I am happy with third place. Of course, I was slightly lucky as well that two drivers spun in front of me. After that, I think that I was slightly faster than Félix, but I didn’t find a way past.”
With all the drivers hoping for dry weather in Race 2, the action can only heat up, with the battles getting closer as the stars of tomorrow fight for their futures…