FIA F3: From Spa to Norisring, from one extreme to the other

After racing on the 7-km Spa-Francorchamps circuit, the drivers in the FIA F3 European Championship now have to cope with the very specific Norisring layout, only 2.3 km long.

Drivers have to learn how to pass from one extreme to another, which is the case this weekend for those racing in the FIA F3 European Championship with the transition from Spa-Francorchamps to the Norisring. “It’s a very short but very interesting track,” explains Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing), who scored a hat trick of victories last weekend in Belgium. “There are very heavy braking zones combined with slipstreaming which makes things very tricky and the races indecisive.” And the slightest mistake on the track around the Zeppelin Grandstand can prove very costly.

The young Dutchman confirmed his speed and his ability to learn new tracks very quickly by setting the fastest times in both free practice sessions. Even if Max Verstappen seems to be going through a purple patch at the moment Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam) is still the man to beat. With 94 points in hand over Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) and 113 on the duo Max Verstappen/Lucas Auer (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), the Frenchman in the colors of the Lotus F1 Team Junior is concerned with nursing his lead and avoiding the pitfalls of this unique layout.

The battle for the first pole position raged between Max Verstappen, Esteban Ocon and Felix Rosenqvist (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport). The latter’s experience finally paid off and the Swede clinched pole from Ocon. Verstappen in third place was only 11/1000th of a second behind and 25 cars were covered by a second. In other words making that difference was a real feat at the Norisring.

“I’m generally quick here,” said Rosenqvist. “As in Pau we have a very different car; it’s much softer and that suits me down to the ground. We did a good job in free practice and I managed to put in a good lap. Here though, pole position is only ten per cent of the battle as if you aren’t quick in the race it can soon turn into a nightmare and there are plenty of places to overtake. However, I really need to win.”

Rosenqvist first in front of Ocon, Verstappen, Blomqvist and Auer means that all the championship front-runners are packed together at the sharp end of the grid and the first race should be a thriller! Start tomorrow at 10h40. The other two heats will be held on Sunday at 11h00 and 15h30.