Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing) continued where he left off at Spa-Francorchamps by winning the first heat from Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam) and Lucas Auer (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport).
The first heat at the Norisring did credit to the reputation of this circuit and that of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship with an incredibly closely-fought race from start to finish. Pole sitter Felix Rosenqvist (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) led early on as the Swede held off Esteban Ocon, Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) and Max Verstappen.
Under the eyes of his famous father, the 1984 world rally champion, Blomqvist was the first of the leaders to fall back after damaging his front wing when he tagged Ocon under braking. The many safety car interventions, four in all, set the rhythm of this race, which was another very spectacular one. Esteban Ocon took the lead from Felix Rosenqvist who was passed in turn by Max Verstappen.
In fact, it took the young Dutchman only a few laps to snatch first place where he stayed till the chequered flag. “We found a really good setup for our wings for the race,” explained Verstappen. “There were some pretty good scraps but I think that’s fairly normal here. Above all you mustn’t damage your car in these situations. My fourth win on the bounce has put me in second place in the championship so that’s pretty important. It looks like it’s going to rain tomorrow and that’ll make things even more uncertain.”
Behind the leading duo, Lucas Auer got the better of his team-mate Felix Rosenqvist after several hotly-contested laps. “It was always fair play between Felix and me,” Lucas smiled. “He defended his place tooth and nail and finally he locked up his wheels under braking for the first hairpin: it cost him several places.” True as while Auer came home third in front of Nicholas Latifi (Prema Powerteam), who had started twelfth, Rosenqvist finished sixth and was overtaken by Jake Dennis (Carlin) in the closing stages of the race.
Tom Blomqvist was the driver who really lost out today as he came home tenth after his misadventures early on. This result means that that he has lost his second place in the championship classification to Max Verstappen.
Two races are on tomorrow’s (Sunday) programme and the rain could reshuffle the cards.