The Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria provided the picturesque backdrop for the penultimate round of FIA F3 European championship. With a 65m height difference from the lowest to highest point on the track, the short 4.318-kilometre circuit expects high speeds and keen skills from the drivers who challenge it. Coming off the highs of our last round out at the demanding Nürburgring, the team were looking for another successful weekend.
Recovering Start to the Weekend
After a mixed day on Friday, the boys were ready to take to the track for the first race on Saturday. Jake’s race was made a little more difficult from the start as he was handed a ten-place grid drop for changing his engine during Friday’s Free Practice.
Not letting this set-back affect him our Brummie wonder made a lightning hard, pushing hard, climbing up to thirteenth in the opening laps. Jake kept the pressure on the rest of the field throughout the race with only the chequered flag halting his progress, forcing him to settle for eleventh, with Ralf coming home just behind in twelfth.
An incident with Harrison Newey whilst defending seventh position saw Nikita’s strong race come to a swift and un-timely end.
Meanwhile, Tadasuke’s wing mirrors were full of Lando Norris, with the British driver looking for a way around our Japanese star. Keeping his cool, our Honda protege defended his position valiantly, with Norris finally squeezing up the inside on the penultimate lap. Racing wheel to wheel with Norris he kept the Brit on his toe and stayed on the rear wing of Norris until the chequered flag.
Ready to make our comeback in qualifying, we pushed our Mercedes-powered chargers to the max. As the times came tumbling it, it was our Russian ace Nikita that lead the pack with a P3 in the first session and P4 in the second. We rubbed our hands together in anticipation of a promising race later this afternoon after the entire squad finished the second session within the top 10.
Podium and Points
Putting yesterday behind him Nikita stormed off the line in fourth, putting down a pace that Callum Ilott just couldn’t keep up with. In a breeze of a race, Nikita performed a celebratory weave as he took the checkered flag, securing our first podium of the weekend.
With Ralf and Jake kept on their toes with some wheel-to-wheel battles in the midfield, the pair battled hard to bring home some well-deserved points for the team. Eager to recover positions, Tadasuke was a little too quick off the clutch as the lights went out and took himself out of contention for points with a drive-through penalty, despite showing a fantastic pace throughout the race.
After some quick high-fives at the back of the garage in celebration of Nikita’s second podium, the team got ready to tackle the second race of the day. With all four drivers starting in the top ten we were looking forward to what would be a thrilling race.
Double Podium after Chaotic Final Lap
The final race around the Red Bull Ring was full of action from start to finish. Ralf shot off the line at lights out, leaping from fifth to third before the first corner. Maintaining his position beautifully we were sure Ralf was going to bring home some more champagne. Until disaster struck on the final lap with Ralf slightly misjudging an overtake on Norris spinning them both into the gravel. It was double heartbreak for the team as Jake also suffered an early race penalty which saw him fall out of contention.
Nikita and Tadasuke however were here to lift our spirits and treated us to the best race of their seasons so far. Keeping a clean race through the half an hour of racing, the pair stuck together on track, lapping consistent times and formed a difficult duo to pass.
As chaos erupted around them, with many drivers receiving 5 second time penalties for exceeding track limits, and Ralf/Norris heading to the gravel our tenacious duo kept themselves out of trouble ending the race in 2nd and 3rd respectively.
With a roar of cheers from the pit-wall we headed to the podium to cheer our Hitech Hero’s home. It was an especially fantastic performance from Tadasuke who, after breaking his arm at Norisring a mere 12 weeks ago, showed exceptional pace today to take his first podium.
Still dripping in champagne, we grabbed a couple of words with our podium finishers:
“My start was good, I was fast and I didn’t make any mistakes.” Nikita said. “Sometimes, it happens in racing that two rivals collide and others gain positions as a result. This time, I was the lucky one, but in the previous weeks, I have had a lot of bad luck as well. Now, it seems that my good fortune has come back and I hope for a similar result during the finale at Hockenheim in three weeks’ time.”
“First I must say a big thank you to Hitech GP and Honda for supporting me.” Tadasuke said after securing his maiden FIA Formula 3 podium. “This weekend my car felt really nice and had good performance. I started the third race on used tyres so my handling was impeded from the beginning. But my race engineer told me not to give up and to give it my upmost. I was very lucky in race three and to get my first podium is an excellent feeling. I will push more at Hockenheim and we will see if I can repeat the result!”
With podiums associated with the entire squad we leave Austria elated and fully focused on ending the season on a high at Hockenheim on the 14th-15th October.