Two storming drives from Liam Lawson provided the excitement for the opening FIA F3 weekend of the year in Spielberg. The 18-year-old New Zealander charged through from 12th to 6th in Race 1 then scored his maiden F3 victory in Race 2 from 5th on the grid.
Fellow Red Bull Junior Igor Fraga did even more overtaking in Race 1, from 30th on the grid the 21-year-old Brazilian charged to 16th. His Race 2 was ruined by a technical failure. Mechanical issues also wrecked Race 2 for 17-year-old Australian Jack Doohan after a solid 14th in Race 1.
Dennis Hauger, the 17-year-old Norwegian, was frustrated with his F3 debut though he started well enough with 15th in Race 1. Race 2 resulted in an off track excursion during a stirring midfield battle and a P22 finish.
Lawson with speed and style
“Obviously it’s the reverse grid race win and that’s not the one you would chose to take but I think it was still very good, and certainly a good recovery from where we started the race weekend.”
“Race 1 was a good race as well, got a lot of cars at the start and got through to sixth. A similar sort of pattern as today really, we had good pace at the start and then couldn’t really hang on to the tyres. Obviously that’s partly me as well, I need to definitely work on a few things,” admitted the Kiwi who did a pretty impressive job of hanging on to take Sunday’s victory for Hitech.
“Today I used up a lot of tyre getting to the front, I knew we had the pace advantage early on and I wanted to get to the lead as fast as I could and once we did that I didn’t have much tyre left so was just trying to hang on.”
“I had a couple of good restarts today actually, both from the virtual Safety Car and the physical one so I was very pleased with that. This was a good win, very important. A lot of positives to take away from this, we definitely learnt a lot, myself included but we also know we have a lot of work still to do.”
“We need to do better in Qualifying. We just weren’t able to turn the tyre on. You’ve got to be able to do that, you’ve got to get it to a peak early on and we just didn’t do that, it took a few laps to build up and it wasn’t ideal.”
“Sitting here enjoying the win made me think how far we have come and I was thinking about the people who have helped me, including John Fairfall who was one my early very strong supporters. He passed away last year, this win is for John,” concluded Lawson reflectively.
#5 Liam Lawson (NZL – Hitech Mecachrome Dallara)
Qualifying: 12th – Race 1 Grid: 12th – Race 1 Result: 6th
Race 2 Grid top 10 in reverse order: 5th – Race 2 Result: 1st
FIA F3 Championship position: 2nd – 23 points – after 2 races
Fraga making the best of it
After being 8th in Free Practice, Igor Fraga had high hopes going into Qualifying but ended up at the bottom of the timing screen after completing only 5 laps. “Actually we only did one push lap because the others were preparing the tyres and everything and then when I opened up for the push lap I started to have an electrical issue and I had to go straight to the pits.”
So that put him on the back of the grid for Race 1 but he responded superbly and charged through the field. “The car was good, not fantastic but it was good. There was still the fine adjustment that was needed but we lost fifteen minutes with technical issues in Practice and then the lack of laps in Qualifying.”
“So we didn’t have much information to base things on but we still managed to have quite a good car and we had good speed in Race 1 and I was able to make up a lot of places,” enthused the Charouz driver.
“Today the car was a little more difficult to drive. We tried to do some changes which I think went a little too far but still able to stay in the top fifteen probably but then on the penultimate lap at the last corner the engine died for a few seconds, I lost like six places.”
“Then on the last lap going into turn nine the engine completely shut down so I went for neutral and just rolled across the line to take the chequered flag,” concluded Fraga.
#24 Igor Fraga (BRA – Charouz Mecachrome Dallara)
Qualifying: 30th – Race 1 Grid: 30th – Race 1 Result: 16th
Race 2 Grid top 10 in reverse order: 16th – Race 2 Result: 25th
FIA F3 Championship position: 21st – 0 points – after 2 races
Doohan with two determined drives
“It wasn’t the easiest weekend,” admitted Doohan with typical frankness
“I think starting in Qualifying, not the best Quali, I had my best lap deleted for running too wide in the second to last turn. Because of the new rules since they took away the sausage kerb, so that didn’t help.”
“I didn’t feel that I got the maximum out of it probably. So I started P15, back in the bunch. Here with three DRS zones, obviously you could make your way through but you are also watching the rear a lot of the time.”
“In Race 1 I think I destroyed the rear tyres a little bit in the early laps, having the brake bias a little too far to the rear. So I lost pace and then I was driving on my mirrors and trying to defend my position.”
“Today I stated P14, didn’t get a fantastic start but was able to defend my place off the line. But then into Turn 1 I was on the inside and everyone really stoped, I lost a position, then lost the draft up to turn 2 but then managed to get a place back passing Hauger at the end of lap 1.”
“I got up to P13 then to P12 but going down to turn 7 and something went wrong with the steering, a huge amount of free play. On the exits of corners the car was then going into safety mode so I had to box and tried to sort the issue, went out, no better, back in again, seems that it was probably suspension.”
“I think we learnt a lot though and I am sure there is a lot more to come next weekend,” asserted the HWA driver.
#16 Jack Doohan (AUS – HWA Mecachrome Dallara)
Qualifying: 15th – Race 1 Grid: 15th – Race 1 Result: 14th
Race 2 Grid top 10 in reverse order: 14th – Race 2 Result: DNF (Technical)
FIA F3 Championship position: 18th – 0 points – after 2 races
Hauger learnt a lot
Making his debut in the incredibly competitive series, Hauger acquitted himself well enough but no racer enjoys being in the middle of the pack. “I think the whole team struggled a bit in Quali, we hadn’t got everything we needed out of practice really.”
sure we’ve got a few things to learn and we are not where we should be
at all. We have learnt and I found quite a few things myself that we can
use next weekend,” stated the Hitech driver.
“The pace wasn’t that bad but the results don’t really show it. In Race 2 I was running a good enough pace chasing the guys who were quick in Race 1, in a big group. At the start of the race I was struggling with understeer but it got better mid race and I started to push more.”
“I realised I could have a go at the guys ahead and where I was there wasn’t much to lose. When I went for it I got squeezed out, there was nowhere to go, I was squeezed out into the gravel and that was it. Still it was worth the try, you’ve got to do something, you can’t just sit there the whole race.”
#6 Dennis Hauger (NOR – Hitech Mecachrome Dallara)
Qualifying: 16th – Race 1 Grid: 16th – Race 1 Result: 15th
Race 2 Grid top 10 in reverse order: 15th – Race 2 Result: 22nd
FIA F3 Championship position: 19th – 0 points – after 2 races