Cassidy loses Euro F3 lead in Hungary

| Photographer Credit: Euro F3 Series

The Hungaroring proved to be a difficult second round of the 2016 FIA Formula 3 European Championship for Kiwi driver Nick Cassidy. Heading into the weekend Cassidy led the drivers championship but only managed to gain two points from the round with a ninth placing in the third and final race. On Saturday Cassidy had a DNF in race one and then placed 16th in race two.

Cassidy’s drops to fourth on the leader board with his Prema PowerTeam team mates Maximilian Günther leading from Canadian Lance Stroll.

2016 Points standings after 6/30 races

1 Günther 70
2 Stroll 66 25
3 Eriksson 58
4 Cassidy 56
5 Aron 55 6
6 Zhou 50
7 Barnicoat 40
8 Ilott 36
9 Câmara 36
10 Jensen 31

Race 1
The first FIA Formula 3 European Championship race at the 4.381 kilometres long Hungaroring ended with a surprise: rookie drivers locked out the full podium. Estonian Ralf Aron (Prema Powerteam) scored his maiden FIA Formula 3 European Championship race win from Finn Niko Kari (Motopark) and Swedish driver Joel Eriksson (Motopark). In a thrilling race with many position changes and overtaking manoeuvres, points’ leader Nick Cassidy (Prema Powerteam) retired early, but was able to defend his leading position in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship drivers’ standings.

Starting from pole position, Maximilian Günther (Prema Powerteam) already lost his lead at the start as George Russell (HitechGP) managed to overtake him. Ralf Aron and Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam) also found a way past the German on the opening lap, so that Günther was only fourth after one lap. A brief safety car intervention followed after Callum Ilott (Van Amersfoort Racing) retired due to a collision with Ben Barnicoat (HitechGP).

After the restart, it didn’t take long before race leader Russell came under pressure from those behind him. While Aron attacked him, the group behind him increased to five drivers. On lap nine, Aron managed to overtake Russell and thus became the first Estonian to lead an FIA Formula 3 European Championship race. As his rivals needed considerably longer before they found a way past George Russell, the new race leader was able to extend his margin. Only on lap 15, Niko Kari managed to overtake Russell and likewise did Eriksson soon after that. Both Motopark drivers then tried to close the gap to Aron, but they were unable to prevent the rookie driver from taking his maiden win in the series.

Behind Aron, Kari and Eriksson, Lance Stroll finished fourth as the first Formula 3 driver with previous experience in the championship. After an action-packed race near the Hungarian capital of Budapest, Maximilian Günther took the chequered flag in fifth from Alessio Lorandi (Carlin), Sérgio Sette Câmara (Motopark), Guanyu Zhou (Motopark), Ben Barnicoat (HitechGP) and Mikkel Jensen (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport).

Race 2
Having missed out on a podium finish in the first race at the 4.381 kilometres long Hungaroring earlier today, German driver Maximilian Günther (Prema Powerteam) made the best of his second pole position of the weekend and won from Estonian Ralf Aron (Prema Powerteam) and Chinese driver Guanyu Zhou (Motopark). At the track near the Hungarian capital Budapest, Aron was classified as the best-placed rookie in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship field. After a pit stop due to tyre issues, New Zealand’s Nick Cassidy (Prema Powerteam) had to make do with 16th position and lost his lead in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship drivers’ standings to Maximilian Günther. Ralf Aron also went ahead of his team-mate in the drivers’ standings.

Maximilian Günther took the lead at the start and drove an undisputed lights-to-flag victory home. Ralf Aron, the winner of the first race at the Hungaroring, slotted in behind his team-mate and brought second place home in an equally safe manner.

Behind the Prema Powerteam duo, George Russell (HitechGP) initially was running in third place, but Guanyu Zhou managed to overtake the Brit on lap eleven after a successful attack. Because his two new rivals Alessio Lorandi (Carlin) and Sérgio Sette Câmara (Motopark) were busy attacking each other, Russell was able to pull a little gap that he managed to defend until the end. Sette Câmara finished fifth behind Russell, Lorandi took the flag in sixth place. Mikkel Jensen (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam), Callum Ilott (Van Amersfoort Racing) and Ben Barnicoat (HitechGP) rounded out the top ten.

Race 3
The first two FIA Formula 3 European Championship races at the 4.381 kilometres long Hungaroring were still held at a dry track, but for the third race of the weekend, the drivers had to adapt to the rain. British rookie driver Ben Barnicoat (HitechGP) coped best with the conditions and celebrated his maiden FIA Formula 3 European Championship race win. That made him the fifth different winner from six races held so far this season. Joel Erisson (Motopark) completed the 1-2 for rookie drivers by finishing second. The best driver with more experience was Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam), who finished third. In the drivers’ standings, the Canadian moved up to second place behind Maximilian Günther (Prema Powerteam), who retired after a collision with George Russell (HitechGP).

Because of the rain, the race got underway behind the safety car. Maximilian Günther started from pole position and converted this into the race lead as the green flags were waved on lap three. On lap six, George Russell attacked him, but then, the two collided and retired. Thus, Ben Barnicoat inherited first place and drove it home safely at the rain-soaked new asphalt of the Hungaroring that was particularly slippery in various places.

After the collision involving Günther and Russell, Joel Eriksson and Guanyu Zhou were in second and third place. The Chinese, however, was unable to withstand the pressure from Lance Stroll and had to let the Canadian past on lap nine. Zhou eventually came home in fourth place behind the Prema driver. Zhou’s team-mate Sérgio Sette Câmara (Motopark) took the chequered flag in sixth, having lost some positions following an error in the opening stages of the race.

Callum Ilott (Van Amersfoort Racing) and Pedro Piquet (Van Amersfoort Racing) staged a thrilling battle over many laps, in which the Brit eventually came out on top and demoting the son of the three times’ Formula 1 world champion Nelson Piquet to seventh place. For the Brazilian, this result still brought him his first FIA Formula 3 European Championship points. Niko Kari (Motopark), Nick Cassidy (Prema Powerteam), who spun on lap three, and Harrison Newey (Van Amersfoort Racing) rounded out the top ten.

Also see – Qualifying report

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