Difficult outing for Räikkönen Robertson

 in Bucharest

The Räikkönen Robertson Racing British F3 time endured a difficult outing at the Bucharest round of the 2008 British F3 International Series this weekend.  As the F3 team took part in the second event to be held around the streets of the Romanian capital, the challenging circuit and close walls claimed many victims and made overtaking difficult.  Atte Mustonen took the team’s best result of the weekend, coming home in seventh place in race one.   

Paying their second visit to the Bucharest circuit, Atte Mustonen and John Martin were on the pace in qualifying for round 19, with both Double R drivers qualifying inside the top ten in seventh and eighth respectively.  Henry Arundel did well on his first visit to the Romanian track to qualify 13th.  

As the lights went out for round 19, Mustonen made a strong start to his race, and was challenging Max Chilton for sixth place.  With little opportunity to pass around the street circuit however, Mustonen couldn’t find a way through and remained close to the Hitech racer throughout the race.  Behind Mustonen, Martin was in ninth place, having been passed by Sergio Perez at the start. 

Martin stayed close to the Mexican however, and moved up a place on lap six when the Perez’s engine let go, putting Martin in eighth place behind his team mate.  On his first visit to Romania, Henry Arundel had made a good start and had made up two places by the end of lap one.  The 20 year-old rookie had second year driver Michael Devaney piling on the pressure behind, but Arundel maintained his position.   All three drivers maintained their positions, with a safety car period closing up the field on lap seven. 

Racing recommenced five laps later, with Devaney finally finding a way past Arundel.  Ahead of him, team mate Mustonen was still trying to pass Chilton, the Double R driver constantly putting Chilton under pressure.  A lap later Arundel’s race came to an early conclusion as the Englishman went off with three laps to go.  Mustonen and Martin continued their race to cross the line seventh and eighth respectively.   

The weather remained hot and dry for qualifying for round 20 as the three Double R drivers took to the track.  Pushing hard to get the most from his Raikkonen Roberts Dallara, Atte Mustonen hit the wall five minutes into the session.  With heavy damage sustained to the bodywork, engine and gear box, Mustonen was forced to sit out the remainder of the session while his Double R team set about repairing the number 26 car.  John Martin completed one his strongest qualifying performances of the season to qualify fourth, while Arundel qualified 18th.   

The action started early as the cars lined up for round 20, with Arundel stalling his Double R car on the green flag lap.  The rookie was therefore forced to start the race from the back of the grid, hampering chances of a points finish.  

Mustonen also had a lot of work to do, starting from the back after his accident in qualifying.  The Finn pushed hard, and was up to 17th from 21st on the grid by the end of lap one.  Mustonen strong run came to an end on lap 13 however, when the 19 year old retired from the race with a brake problem.  At the front of the race, Martin was having a more successful afternoon, running in a strong fourth place.  The Australian found himself fighting with Brendon Hartley and Max Chilton in the early stages of the race, but after a three way fight was up to fourth place by lap three. 

Despite pressure from Esteban Guerrieri, Martin held his position, fighting Guerrieri off through a restart after a safety car period.   Pushing the limit to build up a gap from the chasing cars however, Martin hit the wall, and retired on lap 16.  Henry Arundel went on to cross the line ninth in the International Class.    Reflecting on the weekend, Team Principal Anthony Hieatt said, “It’s been a difficult weekend, that hasn’t seen the drivers reach their full potential, but streets tracks always produce unpredictable results.  Atte and John did well to finish seventh and eighth in race one, although I think they had the pace to finish higher up. 

This was Henry’s first weekend on a street circuit, so it was very much a learning process for him this weekend.  The team have done a good job this weekend; street races are often the hardest for the mechanics and engineers, as accident are more common, but the team did a great job to get the cars back on track throughout the weekend.”    

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