The winter tests are over and the first round of the 2013 FIA Formula 3 European Championship will take place this weekend on the Monza circuit, sharing the bill with the WTCC.
The 30 drivers in the 2013 FIA Formula 3 European Championship were probably expecting many things when they arrived at the Monza circuit in Italy – but not heavy snowfalls! Thus, the first day of collective testing was cancelled, and they had to wait for the thaw for the second day to begin with a two-hour delay on the original timetable.
After Raffaele Marciello (Prema Powerteam), Lucas Auer (Prema Powerteam), William Buller (Threebond with T-Sport) and Tom Blomqvist (Eurointernational) in Barcelona, Luis Felipe Derani (Fortec Motorsports) was the man to watch as he set the fastest time in the morning session. “Our time proves that our car’s competitive as we haven’t changed our setup very much,” said the 19-year-old Brazilian from Fortec Motorsports. “Due to a lack of time we weren’t able to make too many modifications as it would have been impossible to back track if we were going in the wrong direction. It’s encouraging to top the time sheets with the first race just a few days away. Nobody really dominated during the winter tests. All we know is that the grid will be very close and the championship’s really top class!”
Wiliam Buller took advantage of the optimal track conditions in the late afternoon and set the fastest lap of the day in 1’45’’354, underlining the fact that he will be a force to reckoned with. However, on Saturday a large number of drivers will be out to win on the high-speed Monza Autodromo starting with the four Italians on the grid: Raffaele Marciello, Antonio Giovinazzi (Double R Racing), Michela Cerruti (Romeo Ferraris) and Eddie Cheever (Prema Powerteam). Giovinazzi was among the front runners in each of the two sessions and he will be one to watch on his home circuit. “I know Monza well and I like it very much. It’s an obvious advantage to start the season here. I’m even more motivated as I’m among the front-runners after today’s testing!”
With ten rounds of three races each, consistency will be the key factor that will make the difference in the championship battle. Swede Felix Rosenqvist (kfzeile24 Mücke Motorsport) third in last year’s FIA F3 European Championship, now knows what mistakes not to make to be in the running for the title. “Last season I took too many risks and there were times when I went for broke to win a race and went off rather that settling for second or third place. With such a closely-matched field I’ll have to manage the race situations properly and go for points rather than trying to pull off the odd coup. We worked well during the winter tests even if I’m still not totally satisfied with my car. The first weekend’s going to be a bit tricky for me as I’ve never raced at Monza before, while the others all know the track. It’s really the kind of place to score points and not aim for victory at any price. We’ll have our ups and downs this season and our ability to score points in challenging situations will make the difference.”
On Friday, the 30 drivers in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship will have two more free 40-minute practice sessions before getting down to the nitty-gritty with qualifying. The first of the three races will take place on Saturday and the other two on Sunday.