The final round of the 2018 FIA Formula 3 European Championship started off extremely well for PREMA Theodore Racing at Hockenheim. The teams and drivers of the series are bracing for a challenging weekend, with the cars generally separated by tight margins and lots of battles expected on-track.
Despite the highly competitive environment, the Italian squad managed to keep its name at the front end of the charts at the end of the opening day at the venue by scoring two pole positions including a front-row lockout for race 3. In the opening qualifying session, setting the grid for race 1, Chinese racer Guanyu Zhou posted a clean early lap, vaulting to the top of the charts and remaining virtually unchallenged. The Ferrari Driver Academy man struggled in qualifying 2 but rebounded to score an eighth place for the final race.
Cruising to pole for race 3 was fellow FDA man Robert Shwartzman. The Russian had another scintillating day, being among the most consistent men of the pack. In addition to his pole, he got two third-place starts for race 1 and 2 respectively.
Championship contender Mick Schumacher also had a positive day, putting himself in a good position to bring home the title. After scoring P7 in qualifying 1, he took two front row positions for race 2 and 3. On the other hand, Ralf Aron and Marcus Armstrong experienced some ups and downs. The Estonian improved throughout the day, climbing up to P5 for the third race, while the Kiwi got a sixth place for race 1 before slipping outside the top-10 in qualifying 2.
With both qualifying sessions scheduled today, Race 1 and 2 will be held tomorrow at 10:00 and 16:30 respectively.
Guanyu Zhou, Car #1
Combined Practice: P5 Fastest lap: 1:32.235
Qualifying 1: P1 Fastest lap: 1:32.335
Qualifying 2: P12 Fastest lap: 1:32.715
Qualifying 3: P8 Fastest lap: 1:32.735
“Qualifying 1 went really well. I knew that the track was much hotter than in practice, so I had to nail the lap at the beginning which I did. It’s great to take pole again after a tough, long second half of the season. Qualifying 2 wasn’t ideal for some reason. With the first set I was fast, but with the second one, the balance switched completely so I was struggling a bit. The lap was clean but the pace was not there. We will have to focus on race 1.”
Mick Schumacher, Car #4
Combined Practice: P1 Fastest lap: 1:32.066
Qualifying 1: P7 Fastest lap: 1:32.505
Qualifying 2: P2 Fastest lap: 1:32.402
Qualifying 3: P2 Fastest lap: 1:32.500
“We had a big learning curve today, improving our work with the tyres from FP1 to FP2 with a very positive result. In Qualifying 1 I was not expecting such a big tyre degradation due to the temperatures being much higher than in free practice 2 which we took as basis. We adapted our approach in Qualifying 2 which payed out. I am looking forward to great racing tomorrow.”
Ralf Aron, Car #7
Combined Practice: P7 Fastest lap: 1:32.257
Qualifying 1: P12 Fastest lap: 1:32.643
Qualifying 2: P8 Fastest lap: 1:32.650
Qualifying 3: P5 Fastest lap: 1:32.663
“Free practice wasn’t too bad and we were happy with the situation and how the car performed. In Q1 we misjudged the track conditions and messed up a bit with the set-up. In Q2 we did a really good job. We predicted the track perfectly and adjusted the car accordingly. We have to understand why we didn’t get a peak, but otherwise, it was the maximum we could do.”
Marcus Armstrong, Car #8
Combined Practice: P14 Fastest lap: 1:32.616
Qualifying 1: P6 Fastest lap: 1:32.481
Qualifying 2: P14 Fastest lap: 1:32.726
Qualifying 3: P14 Fastest lap: 1:32.889
“Qualifying 1 was not too bad ending up in P6, but we struggled a little more than expected in Qualifying 2 as I could not find the right confidence in the car. We are set to do our best and recover as much as possible in race 2 and 3.”
Robert Shwartzman, Car #10
Combined Practice: P2 Fastest lap: 1:32.073
Qualifying 1: P3 Fastest lap: 1:32.370
Qualifying 2: P3 Fastest lap: 1:32.406
Qualifying 3: P1 Fastest lap: 1:32.443
“We started the day at quite a good level as we were constantly in the top-3. We had some small issues with balance, tyre management and a bit of traffic throughout the day, but we navigated them pretty well. We had quite a decent qualifying 1 with P3 and we could have done even better. In Qualifying 2 I did the best I could and I pushed as hard as possible. I still need to see where I lost time compared to Juri but I’m really happy for the race 3 pole. Our goal will be to learn from our mistakes in qualifying and not overpush during the races.”
“The F3 season has flown by so quickly and it’s hard to believe this is the final championship weekend. To see Guanyu back at the top and securing Pole for Race 1 and Robert capturing pole for race 3 is really satisfying and with Mick qualifying in 2nd place for race 2 and 3, it’s going to be a very challenging and exciting end of the season and we can’t wait to see how the races will unfold and who will become The FIA F3 Champion!”