Zandvoort, The Netherlands
As the summer break has come to an end the FIA F3 team headed to the Dutch town of Zandvoort. After coming out on top in free practice, the first qualifying session of the weekend turned out to be tricky. Heading into the weekend as Championship leader Maximilian Günther settled for P4 on the second row on the grid for Race 1. Brit Callum Ilott took P5 after initially taking provisional pole. Guanyu Zhou P8 and Mick Schumacher P9.
With the clouds looming above the seaside track ahead of Race 1, the safety car was deployed immediately due to David Beckmann having flipped his car on the opening lap. Having lost 10 minutes on the clock caused by the incident, at the restart Schumacher maintained P6 after having a flying start. Ilott lost P4 to Ferdinand Habsburg and continued to fight back the position for the rest of the race but was unable to pass the Carlin driver. Getting into P7 at the green light Zhou was quickly penalised with a drive through penalty which knocked his overall result to finish P16. Günther, who had come under pressure from Habsburg clinched hold of the last spot on the podium as the chequered flag was revealed.
Qualifying 2 featured a red and yellow flag situation which later in the day created several penalties for numerous drivers. This meant Callum Ilott took the pole position for Race 2. Günther P7, Zhou P9 and Schumacher just shy of a top 10 start in P11.
Yet again a safety car was deployed on the opening lap of Race 2, almost instantly after Ilott stormed away from the field having started on pole position. Once a few laps had passed the restart took place, where we saw each Prema Theodore driver hold their positions. Zhou had German teammate Schumacher in a high speed battle for P9 for the duration of the race. Although not swapping positions both gained one spot due to Ralf Aron experiencing issues with his car. As that battle unfolded another was taking place between Günther and Habsburg for P6, Günther cut the gap to the Brit lap by lap but was unable to find a way past. As the chequered flag waved, Callum Ilott took his fourth win of the season with a 7.3 gap to P2!
The final race of the weekend had Maximilian Günther on the third spot of the podium for a second time this weekend, having started in the same position, he had a strong 33 minute + 2 lap race. Ferrari backed Zhou had a similar race. Although trying his hardest to pass his teammate for a podium finish after pushing the car to it’s limits the Chinese driver settled for P4, where he begun the race from. For Ilott, who had won race 2 earlier in the morning, the last race of the weekend was a different story. Starting from 7th, the Brit had a good start gaining two places but after experiencing front wing damage was forced to retire from the race. Mick Schumacher has another positive run. Setting off in P15 the German star jumped to P12 before hunting Joey Mawson for a wheel-to-wheel battle which took place for the remainder 24 minutes of the race, but as the last lap arrived he was unable to make a move and finished P11.
The next race on the calendar will be held at the famous Nurburgring on 9-10th September, where the team hopes to continue it’s lead in the team Championship.
# 3 – Maximilian Günther
“In both the races I tried to overtake cars at the start. Even if the starts have been good, I was not able to improve my position in both the races. Later on I tried everything I could, but putting lots of pressure was the only possible option on this track. Finally P7 and P3 were the best I could achieve after the disappointment in the qualifying sessions. I’m positive we can bounce back soon at the next event!”
# 8 – Guan Yu Zhou
“In race 2 the start was very good but couldn’t make my way to the front. It was a pretty boring run because with the turbulences in the fast corners it was really difficult to pass and you end up keeping the same pace of the car in front. Anyway we put some valuable points in the bag with eight place. In Race 3 I had another good start but so did the four drivers in front and couldn’t really pass anyone in turn 1. At the beginning, I pushed a lot to force Maxi into a mistake and at one time he had to defend in turn 1, but it’s so difficult to complete the pass here. Afterwards I managed my tires, especially the rear, because there is a lot of degradation here and I’m happy with P4. There is still something we can work on and I hope to do even better at the Nürburgring.”
# 25 – Mick Schumacher
“It has been an up and down day. Our laptimes showed that we have really good potential. In race 2 we were even able to overcome the lack of passing opportunities to grab another good points finish and a second place on the rookie podium. In race 3 there weren’t real chances to recover but once again the pace proved that we are on the right path.”
# 53 – Callum Ilott
“Having inherited pole position yesterday, I was able to get into the lead at the start. Then, there was a safety car intervention, but I was also able to defend my first place at the restart. Our speed was always good and I am happy that I was finally able to prove it with this victory. I reckon that I was at the right place at the right time. That wasn’t much the case in race 3. I was starting from P7 but an early contact damaged my car and at that point there were no hopes for a recovery.”