Max Verstappen, (Van Amersfoort Racing), had a perfect start as a Red Bull Junior Team member: at the Nürburgring, the 16-year-old won his first outing in the colours of the Austrian Fórmula 1 World Championship-winning team. At the 3.629 kilometres long sprint circuit, he won the entertaining 25th FIA Fórmula 3 European Championship season round from Antonio Fuoco, (Prema Powerteam) and Antonio Giovinazzi, (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin). At a drying track, the Dutch rookie driver scored his eighth win of the season and was thus able to reduce the gap to the championship leader. Frenchman Esteban Ocon, (Prema Powerteam), who finished sixth in the Nürburgring race, remains on top in the drivers’ standings.
The race started at a still wet, but already drying track. Nevertheless, three drivers took the risk of starting with rain tyres: Richard Goddard, (ThreeBond with T-Sport), series’ novice Wing Chung Chang, (Team West-Tec F3) and Michele Beretta, (Eurointernational). Especially Goddard, who had started from 20th place, benefited from his initial tyre advantage and took the lead on lap seven. On lap 13, he lost it again because his rain tyres degraded and in spite of a spirited drive, he was left without a chance against the faster Max Verstappen. In the remainder of the race, the Australian dropped back more and more and eventually crossed the finish line in 19th place.
Out in front, Verstappen only managed to pull clear from his main rival Antonio Fuoco, while the latter had his compatriot Antonio Giovinazzi in his rear-view mirrors until the end of the race. Jordan King, (Carlin), took the chequered flag in fourth place from Tom Blomqvist, (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) and Esteban Ocon, who battled for a long time. Lucas Auer, (Mücke Motorsport), Felix Rosenqvist, (Mücke Motorsport), Santino Ferrucci, (Eurointernational) and Edward Jones, (Carlin) rounded out the top ten in a race that had plenty of excitement.
Max Verstappen, (Van Amersfoort Racing): “We knew that the track here dries out quickly, so therefore we opted for slick tyres. I reckon that this was the right choice, even though the first few laps with slicks weren’t easy. When Richard Goddard overtook me, I was well aware that his rain tyres wouldn’t last that long anymore, because at that time, he was already trying to cool his tyres all the time. Therefore, I didn’t defend my position too heavily against his attacks and I just tried not to let him pull away too much”.
Antonio Fuoco, (Prema Powerteam): “I had a good start and I even managed to take the lead in the second corner. Being in front at the slippery track, however, wasn’t easy. When I ran too wide in a corner, Max was able to overtake me again. But I am also very happy with second place”.
Antonio Giovinazzi, (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin): “My start was really good, too, I already managed to move up to third on the opening lap. In the final stages, I was even able to close up to Antonio Fuoco, but I wasn’t close enough to mount an attack. However, I am very happy with third place, especially having started from seventh on the grid”.
Photos: FIA F3 Euro Series