Norris kicks off British F3 season with dominant wet-weather win

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Carlin’s Lando Norris kicked off the 2016 British Formula 3 season with a dominant victory in a wet opening race at Snetterton on Saturday.

The 16-year-old MSA Formula champion got away cleanly from pole and romped into the distance, crossing the line 19.095s clear of closest rival Aleksanteri Huovinen in second.

“I managed to get a good start which was the main thing and then from there I controlled it pretty well,” said Norris.

“It was drying up towards the end so it wasn’t quite so slippery but overall it was a good race and a good result.”

Huovinen started strongly, jumping from sixth to fourth off the grid and quickly  dispatched Tarun Reddy and Toby Sowery to move into second on the road, but the Finn was unable to match the pace of Norris.

“It is always hard racing in the rain as you can’t see anything when you are trying to pass a car in front but I managed to get to second place quite early and manage my tyres until the end,” said the Double R racer.

“I knew it wasn’t a good idea to go trying to chase Lando so I kept calm and took the second place.”

Enad Ahmed lined up just eighth on the grid, but made steady progress through the field, sweeping past a fading Ricky Collard in the closing stages to take the final spot on the podium for Douglas Motorsport.

Collard had started alongside Carlin team-mate Norris on the front row, but after being swamped at the start and losing out to Ahmed, had to settle for fourth spot, ahead of Sowery.

However, a post-race three-second time penalty for an unfair on the Lannan racer reversed those positions.

Formula Jedi graduate Ben Hingeley charged from 14th on the grid to claim sixth, ahead of Jan Jonck, Enzo Bortoleto and Sisa Ngebulana.

Double R’s Matheus Leist competed the top 10.

Ilott and Dennis top opening European F3 practice sessions at Portimao

30 Callum Ilott (GBR, Carlin, Dallara F312 – Volkswagen), FIA Formula 3 European Championship, round 9, Portimão (POR) - 4. - 6. September 2015

British duo Calum Ilott and Jake Dennis topped the opening two Formula 3 European Championship practice sessions of the weekend at Potimao.

Red Bull-backed Carlin racer Ilott was quickest in the first session of the morning, beating Sergio Sette Camara and Japanese F3 points leader Nick Cassidy.

Cassidy, making his first European F3 start since the 2014 Macau GP for Prema, had been fastest for much of the session before slipping to third.

Dennis topped the second session, posting a 1m42.101s to end the morning fastest, edging out Illot’s earlier benchmark by 0.021s.

Prema team-mate Felix Rosenqvist was second, with title rival and points leader Antonio Giovinazzi bouncing back from 22nd in the opening session to end the morning third fastest for Carlin.

Motopark’s Markus Pommer was fourth in both sessions, while Alexander Sims marked Hitech GP’s return to Formula 3 with 17th fastest.

Image courtesy of FIA Formula 3 European Championship 

Pommer scores maiden European F3 win at Zandvoort

FIA Formula 3 European Championship, round 7, race 3, Zandvoort (NED)

Markus Pommer took his maiden Formula 3 European Championship win in a crash-strewn final race of the weekend at Zandvoort

Pommer beat poleman Antonio Giovinzazzi off the grid to snatch the lead into Tarzan and survived three safety car periods to secure Motopark’s first European F3 win since 2011.

Matt Solomon prompted an early safety car after just four laps with an off, and no sooner was the race restarted it was back under caution after a clash between Gustavo Menezes and Mikkel Jensen left the latter in the barriers.

A third safety car followed just moments after the second restart, with Menezes and Nicholas Pohler involved in a heavy accident at Turn 2.

With time left for just four more laps following the final restart, Pommer cruised home to take the victory from Giovinazzi, with race two winner Felix Rosenqvist competing the podium.

Jake Dennis crossed the line fourth, ahead of Prema team-mate Lance Stroll and Carlin’s George Russell.

Motopark’s Sergio Sette Camara was seventh, with Alexander Albon and Santino Ferucci eighth and ninth for Signature and Mucke Motorsport respectively.

Charles Leclerc beat Ryan Tveter to take the final point on offer for 10th, but slips behind Giovinazzi in the championship standings.

Image courtesy of FIA Formula 3 European Championship

Euro F3: Rosenqvist wins at Zandvoort, as Leclerc crashes out

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Felix Rosenqvist took a comfortable victory in the second Formula 3 European Championship race of the weekend at Zandvoort, as points leader Charles Leclerc crashed out.

The Swede survived two safety car restarts to beat race one winner Antonio Giovinazzi.

Rosenqvist made a clean start from pole to cover Giovinazzi into Tarzan, but there was contact further down the field as Lance Stroll collided with Leclerc.

The Ferrari protege was out on the spot with a broken suspension, prompting an early safety car period.

Despite having to lift to allow a recovery vehicle to pull off the circuit, it was Rosenqvist that got the best of the restart, pulling a second clear of Giovinazzi before his lead was immediately wiped out as Leclerc crashed heavily, bringing out the safety car for a second time.

Rosenqvist had to defend his lead into Tarzan as Giovinazzi attacked off the restart, but the Italian could not match the Carlin racer, who cruised home to record his sixth win of the 2015 campaign.

Giovinazzi crossed the line second to cut Leclerc’s championship lead to just 9.5 points, the advantage having stood at 42.5 before the day’s racing.

Prema racer Jake Dennis bounced back from his retirement in race one to completed the podium, finishing third to end his run of four races without a point.

Markus Pommer was fourth for Motopark, ahead of Signature’s Alexander Albon and McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award winner George Russell in sixth.

Sergio Sette Camara came home seventh, with Mucke Motorsport team-mates Maximilian Gunther and Santino Ferrucci eighth and ninth respectively.

Carlin’s Ryan Tveter claimed his first ever European F3 point in 10th.

Image courtesy of FIA Formula 3 European Championship

Giovinazzi wins opening European F3 race at Zandvoort

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Antonio Giovinazzi took a lights-to-flag victory in a processional opening Formula 3 European Championship race of the weekend at Zandvoort.

The Carlin racer made a clean start from pole, covering Felix Rosenqvist into Tarzan, and led the Swede home to take a convincing fourth win of the season.

Motopark’s Marcus Pommer beat Ferrari protege Lance Stroll for third to claim his maiden podium finish in the series.

Points leader Charles Leclerc challenged for third off the start, but was crowded out into Tarzan, dropping behind Pommer and Stroll to fifth, where he ultimately finished.

McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award winner George Russell led home Signature’s Alexander Albon in sixth.

Mikkel Jensen crossed the line in eighth for Mucke Motorsport, after team-mate Santino Ferrucci was forced into the pits after a brief off.

Nabil Jeffri started just 11th after a five-place grid drop, but rallied to record his first points F3 points in ninth.

Prema’s Brandon Maisano rounded out the top 10 after Maximilian Gunther was forced to pit from the points with a broken front wing.

Red Bull-backed Callum Ilott was 11th for Carlin, while fellow Briton Sam Macleod charged from 21st on the grid to cross the line 12th in his Volkswagen-powered Motopark Dallara.

Prema’s Jake Dennis slipped from fourth on the grid to sixth, and then dropped out of contention entirely courtesy of a drive-through penalty for jumping the start.

The team opted to retire the Briton in the closing stages to conserve his tyres for race two.

Image courtesy of FIA Formula 3 European Championship

Red Bull confirms GT Academy star Mardenborough for GP3 with Arden in 2014

Red Bull Racing has signed Nissan GT Academy graduate Jann Mardenborough in a deal which will see the 22-year-old race for Arden in GP3 this year. 

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Mardenborough, who won the 2011 Nissan GT Academy programme, which offers video gamers the opportunity to become professional racing drivers, split his time in 2013 between single-seaters and endurance racing, finishing sixth overall in British Formula 3, while taking a podium on his debut at Le Mans, with third for Greaves Motorsport in the LMP2 class.

Mardenborough will join Robert Visoiu and Patric Niederhauser at Arden this year, as the team looks to take a third straight title, having run Mitch Evans and Toro Rosso F1 graduate Daniil Kvyat to the titles in 2012 and 2013.

“I feel ready for GP3,” said Mardenborough. “I’ve prepared well and I have all the right people around me to help my development so I can fully focus on my racing.

“F3 has taught me so many things, both in the car and out of the car, both mentally and physically. It was a great stage in my development and I’m sure the skills I’ve learnt there will help me in GP3 and beyond.

‘I’m excited to work with Arden. My initial impressions of them are excellent; they have a lot of experience and great success over the years. I’m looking forward to working with my race engineer Sean [McGill].”

“I haven’t raced the GP3 car yet,” he added. “But going on initial testing, I prefer the GP3 car to an F3 car. The power is very addictive! This season is my opportunity to impress more people in the sport who make the decisions on who makes it into F1 and who doesn’t and I’m going to give it my best shot.”

Andy Damerun, Red Bull Racing’s driver development manager, who will oversee Mardenborough’s progress, believes that Nissan’s GT Academy could signal a shift in the current state of affairs in the way young hopefuls progress up the motorsport ladder.

“We’re delighted to welcome Jann onto our programme,” said Damerum. “We have been tracking Nissan’s innovative approach to motorsport and in particular GT Academy that challenges the status quo of motorsport. The traditional route to F1 of karting and single-seaters is a tried and tested success but Nissan and PlayStation have gone down a very different road and started to find some very talented drivers who have been doing all their practicing on a games console.

“I’m very interested to see how Jann fares on our programme and in GP3 this season and I look forward to taking him under the Infiniti Red Bull Racing wing to further progress his career.”

Johnny Herbert, who oversaw the finalists of the 2011 GT Academy, of which Mardenborough was the winner, has applauded the 22-year-olds recent progress, and asserts that his success will only lead to more hopefuls following this new route into motorsport.

“I have been mightily impressed with what Jann has achieved since winning GT Academy,” said Herbert. “For someone with Jann’s experience doing so well is very rare to see.

“Last year he raced in the European F3 series which is hell of a tough challenge during your first season; the fact that it was Jann’s first season in any kind of single-seaters is incredible.

“Whilst he has had a very successful first year in GT racing and he has now got an amazing result at Le Mans 24 Hours under his belt, he is competing against drivers that have grown up with seasons of karting and single-seater experience behind them.

“His talent has not only impressed me, but has now got experienced figureheads in motorsport talking about what Jann, Nissan and GT Academy is achieving.

“The world of motorsport is recognising that GT Academy is helping bring talented young blood into the sport,” he added. “The success of Jann and other GT Academy winners is also inspiring a new legion of gaming and motorsport fans by giving them a new route to becoming a professional racing driver. The only question that remains unanswered is ‘Can a gamer make it all the way to F1?’”