Max Verstappen, (Van Amersfoort Racing), crowned his nearly perfect Saturday at Spa-Francorchamps with another victory. In the 14th season round of the FIA Fómula 3 European Championship, the 16-year-old Dutchman kept rookie driver Esteban Ocon, (Prema Powerteam), at bay throughout the 15 race laps. Third-placed Gustavo Menezes, (Van Amersfoort Racing), completed the success for Dutch team, Van Amersfoort Racing, with two of the three podium positions. Placed fifth behind Felix Rosenqvist, (Mücke Motorsport), was the best FIA Fórmula 3 European Championship result to date for Tatiana Calderón, (Jo Zeller Racing), the only lady racer in the field. At the 7.004 kilometres long demanding Fórmula 1 track in the Ardennes, she also scored the best result for her Swiss team, Jo Zeller Racing so far.
At the start, Gustavo Menezes took the lead from pole position. His joy didn’t last long, however, as both Max Verstappen and Esteban Ocon managed to overtake him on the opening lap. While the first two places were occupied, there was a huge battle for third. Gustavo Menezes had to give his third place to Felix Serralles, (Team West-Tec F3), for a while, but claimed it back two laps later. On lap nine, Serralles collided with Lucas Auer, (Mücke Motorsport) in the battle for fourth and both drivers retired. Thus, Felix Rosenqvist moved up into fourth place and safely drove this position home. Due to the incident involving Serralles and Auer, the safety car was deployed.
After the restart, Tatiana Calderón, who was now fifth, had to defend her place from John Bryant-Meisner, (Fortec Motorsports). The Columbian was successful and took the chequered flag in fifth place soon after that. Behind her and Jake Dennis, (Carlin), Alexander Toril, (ThreeBond with T-Sport), and John Bryant-Meisner collided just before the end of the race. As a result, Nicholas Latifi, (Prema Powerteam), Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin), Antonio Giovinazzi, (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin), and Jordan King, (Carlin), moved up into seventh to tenth place.
Max Verstappen, (Van Amersfoort Racing): “My start wasn’t perfect. On the opening lap, I had a good slipstream, I managed to overtake Esteban and then also get past Gustavo at the end of Les Combes. The rest was relatively easy, I was able to control the race. Only the restart is usually a little bit difficult at Spa, but that went well, too. So far, it has been a perfect weekend”.
Esteban Ocon, (Prema Powerteam): “After my disappointing first race with my retirement, being on the podium again was important. My start was good, but Max was quite fast on the straights. On the other hand, I didn’t want to take too many risks, because I definitely wanted to score a few points”.
Gustavo Menezes, (Van Amersfoort Racing): “Of course, I am happy with my maiden podium finish. After the start, I was in the lead and I even had a slight gap as Max and Esteban were fighting with each other. Then, I made a mistake at Les Combes and I was lucky that I didn’t collide with Max. After that, my tyres were a little dirty and Félix Serrallés used that situation to overtake me. A little bit later, however, I was able to take back my third place”.
Photos: FIA F3 Euro Series