Lando Norris delivered the perfect wet weather drive today, in an eventful FIA Formula 3 European Championship race at the Nürburgring. The McLaren Honda junior driver extended his lead in the standings with his 8th victory of the season. After an encouraging start to his FIA F3 career in qualifying Sacha Fenestraz endured a difficult race debut, an incident with Nikita Mazepin resulting in an unscheduled pit stop and drive through penalty. Ferdinand Habsburg and Jehan Daruvala took precious points for sixth and seventh respectively. Ameya Vaidyanathan took 19th after recovering from a first lap spin.
As the lights went out Norris got off the line well, immediately defending from second placed man Hughes and also fighting off a fast starting Callum Ilott. Team mate Fenestraz did well on his first FIA F3 race start, dropping briefly to sixth before fighting his way back to fifth on lap from his fourth place grid slot. Habsburg meanwhile had passed a number of cars to 11th with Daruvala 13th. It was a tricky first lap for Vaidyanathan though, the Indian racer outbraked himself in the difficult conditions at turn five and had to recover from the back of the field.
At the front, Norris was wasting no time in pulling out a gap on the rest of the field. Behind him Fenestraz was making good progress but misjudging slightly his braking in the tricky wet conditions, the French Argentinian driver made contact with Nikita Mazepin, putting the latter into the gravel trap. A new front wing and drive through penalty for the F3 rookie meant the remainder of the race became a prolonged test session. Staying out of trouble, FIA F3 race winners Habsburg and Daruvala were quietly making progress, moving up to sixth and seventh.
Exploring the limits of the grip in the lead, Norris briefly saw his advantage drop by a couple of seconds, but had the leading margin back up to 11 seconds again by lap 12. A full course yellow briefly neutralised the racing action, but once green again Norris controlled his pace perfectly on cooler Hankook tyres to manage his lead.
An uneventful end to the race saw Norris put in a flawless performance taking his 8th victory of the season by over 17 seconds. Staying clear of any incidents and mistakes Habsburg added to his points tally with sixth place just ahead of Daruvala in seventh. After an eventful first race Fenestraz gained a vast amount of experience with his 15th place as Vaidyanathan recovered to 19th.
Speaking about his race, Norris said, “I had a pretty good start, not the best but it was good enough to stay in P1. From then on I could pull away; the car was good and gave me confidence. I was slowly able to extend my lead. The full course yellow meant that I didn’t lost my advantage, which was much better than a safety car, so I managed to win by a fairly good margin.”
The FIA Formula 3 European Championship drivers will be back in action this afternoon for second qualifying.