Less than a tenth of a second denied Austrian Walter Grubmüller his first podium finish when he stormed to fourth place in round five of the British Formula 3 International Series at Monza yesterday. The 19 year-old Hitech Racing driver made a fantastic getaway to make up nine places on the opening lap.
Over the course of the 30-minute race, the rapid teenager capitalised on the mistakes of his rivals and made best use of the track to claw his way through the field. “It was pure chaos out there, said Walter. “I made an excellent start and made up a couple of places. Then there was a first corner pile-up which I managed to avoid and was able to pick my way through and get up to eighth.
“It wasn’t that pleasant but I managed to avoid it and it was good to be that high up after qualifying where we did. I should have qualified higher up as a podium would have been within reach. On that last lap I could have had Turvey, although he drove quite defensive and it was very wet so it wasn’t worth trying. For tomorrow’s race, if it stays like this it should help, we’re obviously quick in the dry. You don’t get that lucky twice though to get such a good start and have a big pile-up like that. But I’ll give it my best shot.”
His team-mate Max Chilton started from the front row but was denied the chance of his first race victory when he was shunted off on the opening lap and subsequently pitted with damage to his Dallara F308 Mercedes HWA. “I didn’t get a bad start but going into the first corner Chinosi and Abay were side-by-side. We were all crawling through it and I was on the apex going in when suddenly someone rammed the back of me and spun me round. I was stuck on the track without the engine running trying to get it going. I had just started it when Bridger hit me and took off the front right corner of the car.
“I’m on pole for tomorrow’s race though and I’ll be hoping nothing bad happens then. I’m hoping it will be really wet as I’m good at starting in the rain and I always find the races easier.”
For Team Principal David Hayle, the results of the fifth round of the series produced mixed emotions; “I have to say I’m over the moon with Walter’s performance. He often races better than he qualifies and drove an absolutely superb race today. He made a great start and drove with his head, not putting a wheel wrong throughout the race. We’re all very happy for him and it bodes well for hopefully another good result tomorrow.
“For Max, it’s a huge shame as starting from the front row he had such a good chance to take his first win. Unfortunately these things happen sometimes and you can’t afford to dwell on it too much, we just have to put it all behind us and look ahead to tomorrow’s race, where he starts from pole. He starts as the youngest ever pole-sitter and hopefully he can make a better start and record his first ever win.”
Seventeen year-old Chilton went into the history books as the youngest ever driver in British F3 aged 16 years and one day. Tomorrow he takes the record as the youngest ever pole-sitter in the series, aged just 17 years and 26 days.
Walter will line up on the ninth row; the Buckingham-domiciled driver unable to re-capture the form that netted him fifth in Friday’s opening free practice. On a wet track, his second fastest lap in the session secured him the 18th quickest time for the race which is scheduled to start at 15.45 today.