Double R Racing celebrated its best result of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship season during the final round of the campaign at a rain-lashed Hockenheim today, Sunday, 20th October, with Antonio Giovinazzi securing a fantastic top six finish in truly awful conditions.
Rapid throughout the weekend, in the dry and wet, the 19-year-old Italian rounded-off his first year of Formula 3 action with a superb series of performances. Although losing out on a top six finish in the opening race, as a result of a highly debateable drive-through penalty, Giovinazzi bounced back to take seventh in the second encounter before his brilliant sixth place in the finale.
Team-mate Sean Gelael , the youngest competitor in the category, didn’t have the best of fortune in rounds 28 and 29 on Saturday, 19th October, but he delivered a season-best drive in the rain in round 30 to slice his way through the order into 13th place from 24th on the grid. Far belying his lack of experience, the 16-year-old Indonesian capped off a strong rookie campaign with a star drive.
Double R Racing’s third racer, Tatiana Calderón, took a best result of 21st position – having started 28th and last on the grid – in the opening encounter on Saturday morning and added 22nd place in round 29. Unfortunately for the Colombian, contact in the final race led to retirement.
“It’s been a fantastic weekend, especially for Antonio with three very impressive performances after his best qualifying of the season”, said Double R team principal Anthony ‘Boyo’ Hieatt, “He really is a super talented young driver, his level of improvement throughout the year has been excellent.
“We always knew this would be a challenging season, it’s our first year in the European series and all three drivers are rookies. Sean and Tatiana have both had some stand-out drives this year and Sean’s performance in the final round was really strong, especially in such tough conditions.”
Giovinazzi saves best for last at Hockenheimring In qualifying, Giovinazzi was in outstanding form and lapped eighth fastest in the opening session to secure a fourth row grid slot for round 28, a mere 0.3 seconds shy of pole, while his second best lap bagged a top six start for round 29 – little more than 0.2 seconds away from pole position. In session two, he qualified seventh for the final race of the season.
Everything began well for the Italian in the opening encounter on Saturday morning, moving up to seventh into Turn One before being passed by Kevin Korjus at the hairpin. Regaining the place on lap two, he closed on Dennis van de Laar and ran within half a second of the Dutchman on lap six.
Giovinazzi then profited when two cars tangled at the hairpin, enabling the 19-year-old to grab sixth, but shortly after it all came unstuck when he was served with a questionable drive-through penalty for exceeding track limits. Rejoining in 21st position, he eventually finished in a frustrating 17th place.
Gelael, lining-up 23rd on the grid, moved into 22nd initially and managed to break into the top 20 on lap two. Unfortunately for the Indonesian, an excursion on lap five dropped him to 25th ultimately with salt rubbed into the wounds by a drive-through penalty late-on.
For Calderón, a start in last place on the grid meant the prospect of a very challenging race but she did a great job to finish 21st. Slicing her way through into 25th position on lap one, the Colombian was able to climb into 23rd on lap two and then moved up again on lap five at Gelael’s expense. Calderón then took 21st place into the final third of the encounter where she remained to the finish.
From sixth on the grid in round 29, Giovinazzi held station through the first turn and after a challenge at the next corner he managed to retain his top six position out of the hairpin on the run to the Mercedes Arena.
Running close behind Harry Tincknell, but with Sven Muller pressuring behind, the Double R man was eager to find a way past the Briton and on lap six just 0.5 seconds separated them. Out of the hairpin, Giovinazzi was tight under the rear wing of Tincknell’s car but there was no way through.
At mid-distance, Giovinazzi remained sandwiched between his two rivals and unfortunately slipped behind Muller to seventh where he remained to the conclusion. Although only just missing out on a top six result, seventh marked the Italian’s best European series finish of the year at that point.
Gelael began the second encounter in 22nd position with Calderón in 27th place and although both lost ground on the first lap, it was the Indonesian who had the worst of the luck after dropping to 28th place behind his team-mate midway through lap three.
Halfway through, Calderón was up into 25th place with Gelael a couple of spots behind but there was drama for the latter on lap 12 when the right-rear of his Dallara-Mercedes was tagged heavily by Andre Rudersdorf when the German completely misjudged his positioning. Luckily, Gelael was able to continue and ended the race in 24th position with Calderón taking 22nd place.
Persistent rain ahead of the finale on Sunday morning ensured the encounter began behind the Safety Car, with a very slippery track surface and major rooster tails of spray leading to incredibly challenging conditions.
When racing proper began on lap four, Giovinazzi held his starting position of seventh but was pushed back to eighth at the hairpin. Gaining confidence and pace with each lap the Italian closed up to the cars ahead before the Safety Car made a re-appearance on lap seven following an incident.
After the re-start, Giovinazzi moved into seventh on lap nine when Jordan King fell down the order and he then moved into sixth a lap later ahead of Nick Cassidy. Pulling away over the final few laps, Giovinazzi held onto his top six spot to secure his, and Double R’s, best result in the series.
Gelael also produced a superb season-best performance in the rain-hit encounter. Lining-up in 24th place, he was 23rd when racing started due to a mistake for Lucas Wolf under the Safety Car. Driving a sensible and controlled race, Gelael made good progress and was up into 18th midway through.
After the mid-race Safety Car period, the teenage rookie was in 16th and as others came to grief in the conditions Gelael moved into the top 12 on the penultimate lap. Although nudged back to 13th on the final tour, it was still an outstanding result.
Unfortunately for Calderón, her first season in the European championship ended with a non-finish after contact with Spike Goddard at the hairpin on lap nine. Running in 20th position, having started in 25th place, an attempted pass on the Australian went wrong and resulted in Calderón sustaining front wing and suspension damage.