The Red Bull Ring, Austria 

The Austrian hills greeted the Prema Theodore team for the penultimate round of the FIA F3 Championship this weekend. Free Practice set the team off in great spirits after Callum Ilott topped both sessions ahead of the first qualifying session later in the afternoon. 

It was a superb qualifying for Ilott who took his 8th pole position ready for Race 1. For the entire session it was Ilott and teammate Maximilian Günther who kept taking provisional pole from each other but it was the Brit who came out on top with a 1:29.132. The Ferrari star Guanyu Zhou had a solid run and took P13 followed by Mick Schumacher in P15. 

Snow Capped mountains greeted the team ahead of Race 1 where Callum Ilott sat on pole. Lights out where initially the Brit was side by side with Joel Eriksson creating a breath taking fight into the first few corners but it was Ilott who kept P1. Günther fell to P3, Zhou, after gaining three grid positions due to rival penalties went into P11 and Schumacher had an exceptional start gaining six places.  For the remainder of the race Ilott cruised around the 4.3km circuit to take the first win of the weekend. Schumacher managed to pass Ferdinand Habsburg to cross the line in P7. Guanyu Zhou held his own race taking P9 after a controlled run and Günther added another podium into his collection in P3. 

# 3 – Maximilian Günther
“My start wasn’t good, so I lost a position to Joel as a result. That was it in a race that had relatively little action. To be honest, third place wasn’t my goal, I wanted to win the race. But still, I finished ahead of Lando Norris and therefore was able to slightly reduce his margin in the drivers’ standings. Starting from P9 and P6 won’t be easy tomorrow, let’s see how it goes.”

# 8 – Guanyu Zhou
“For today’s race, we made some changes to the car compared to yesterday’s qualifying which turned out to be in the right direction. I had an average first lap though, and after that, it was hard to overtake. In qualifying 2 the track with an increased grip didn’t suit our balance and I also didn’t feel comfortable with the car so it was a shame…”

# 25 – Mick Schumacher
“Race 1 went quite well and I could recover right from the start with lap times comparable with the front-runners. It was nice to score overall points and to step on the rookie podium again.”

# 53 – Callum Ilott
“For me, it has been a good weekend at one of my favourite tracks so far. Qualifying was a close affair, but I managed to come out on top. My start into the race wasn’t particularly good, Joel’s getaway was considerably better. However, I was able to decide the battle with him on the opening lap in my favour. After that, I controlled the race and I am now happy with today’s win.”

After the second qualifying Ilott started race 2 from P4, Günther P9 and Zhou sat in P10. At the lights, Schumacher who started P12 nailed his start taking three positions whilst Ilott attempted to get by Nikita Mazepin for P3. As the minutes went by Günther maintained P9 whilst Zhou fell to P19, having receiving a driver through penalty after a jump start. Falling to P15 Schumacher started to make his way back up the field finishing P11 just outside the points. A great battle emerged between Günther and Joey Mawson but the German kept his cool not allowing the Van Amersfoort driver past taking P8. Ilott settled for P4 unable to catch Mazepin and Zhou P19. 

The last race of the weekend turned into a crazy battle. The first lap saw Ilott being taken out of the race after contact with Ralf Aron, ending what had been a positive race for the rising star, having had a flying start from P4. Guanyu Zhou suffered a spin caused by Jake Hughes instantly putting a negative outcome onto the Chinese drivers race after starting in the top ten. A safety car was called for a lap and once it had returned to the pits Günther fought with Mawson to try and regain P6. Mick Schumacher was all over his rookie Championship rival Jehan Daruvala only having a 0.3 second gap, however was unable to find a way through. As the last lap approached drama struck up ahead of Günther allowing him to take P5, Schumacher took a valuable P8 and Zhou P14. 

It is three weeks now until the last round of the FIA F3 2017 Championship at Hockenheim 14-15th October. The Drivers Championship will be decided at the last event of the season where Maximilian Günther still has a chance to become the 2017 Champion. With 75 points still up for grabs and Günther 72 points behind Lando Norris, with some luck it is all to play for! Prema Theodore still has a 84 points lead to Carlin but the Team Championship will also be decided at the last event.

# 3 – Maximilian Günther
“I gained places in both the races and scored some acceptable points considering my starting position. By far not the weekend we hoped for, but at least we could keep the championship open until the final round. We will sort ourselves out again for the next race and I’m sure we will finish the season in a strong way.”

# 8 – Guanyu Zhou
“It was a very frustrating weekend with really unlucky races. At the start of this morning’s race I stalled on the grid so there wasn’t much I could do there. In race 3 I had quite a good start, I was in P9 and going into turn 2 I had a good margin. At that point though I got a big hit from the car behind which spun me around. My car was damaged and the incident basically ended my race.”

# 25 – Mick Schumacher
“It was good to be on the rookie podium again after yesterday. Even better was that the laptimes proved competitive with the ones set by the front runners, so all in all it turned out to be a much better weekend for us than Nürburgring.”

# 53 – Callum Ilott
“It was an up-and-down day. Race 2 was ok the car was quite quick and I eventually brought home points in P4. Then race 3 ended quite quickly as I was forced over a sausage kerb and that unfortunately damaged the chassis.” 

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