Mature win in tricky conditions
Published on 16 August 2014 by Stefan Meens
In his first race as a Red Bull Junior, Max Verstappen won the first FIA Formula 3 European Championship race at the Nürburging. Despite starting from P1, the race was not a straightforward start to finish victory due to the ever changing weather.
Nevertheless, Max showed great racing maturity braving the tricky conditions as he took the chequered flag. “This is just amazing. I’ve only just joined the Red Bull Junior Team and to have won a race straight away makes me very happy”, says Max after the race.
Like the Friday, the German circuit in the Eifel endures several heavy rain showers throughout the day. One of the showers hits the track shortly before race 1. As the tarmac is wet but drying, the drivers and teams have to make a difficult decision: slicks or wet weather tyres? Apart from Richard Goddard, Wing Chung Chang and Michele Beretta, the entire field opts for the dry compound.
Max explains his choice: “The tarmac used at this track dries quickly. So even if the rain tyres would give you an advantage early on in the race, the rubber would be worn halfway through. In the end, I had the final say in the decision to go with slicks.”
Apart from a clear view, Max’ pole gives him another advantage; a grid spot on the dry racing line. The Van Amersfoort Racing driver has a good start but Antonio Fuoco, who started from fifth, manages to squeeze by Max in the third corner.
“Fuoco was able to pass me on the outside as there was more grip on that side whereas I was suffering too much wheel spin on the inside. After he overtook me I was able to keep up with him and I just waited for him to slip up.”
Meanwhile, Goddard has advanced through the field. Starting from P20, the Australian has worked his way up into fourth in only three laps due to the grip of his wet weather tyres. In lap six, as Max takes the lead after Fuoco goes wide, Goddard makes the most of the situation and advances into second.
Max, thinking ahead, lets Goddard take the lead. “I knew he was on wet tyres and that he would drop down the order as the race would progress.” The Red Bull Junior’s prediction unfolds exactly to plan. After several fastest laps, Max retakes the lead in lap 13.
In the closing stages of the race, Max consolidates his lead with Fuoco and Antonio Giovinazzi slowly closing the gap to the Dutchman. “I tried to control the race and not make any mistakes and at the end of the race I was even able to increase my lead due to another Fuoco mistake.” After 21 laps, Max crosses the finish line clinching his eighth win in only his rookie season in European F3.
On Sunday, the remaining two races of the weekend are scheduled. However, due to a crash in the Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup resulting in a heavily damaged barrier, qualifying for the two races is also scheduled for Sunday. The twenty-minute session, determining the grid for both races, will be held at 7.10am. The lights for race 1 go out at 10am and at 2.45pm for the third and final race.
Via Twitter and Facebook we will keep you updated throughout the weekend followed by a full report on Verstappen.nl at the end of the day’s action.
FIA Formula 3 European Championship Round 9 – Nürburgring – Day 2, Saturday August 16:
Results race 1