Red Bull Junior Team: Euro F3 Nürburgring Race 3 - Sainz 10th after penalty
A drama packed F3 Euro Series Race 3 at the Nürburgring saw drive-through penalties for both series leader Daniel Juncadella and Carlos Sainz Jr. for causing avoidable collisions. The race was won by Pascal Wehrlein (GER - Mücke Motorsport – Mercedes) while Sainz finally finished 10th in his Carlin - Dallara-VW and Juncadella (ESP - Prema Powerteam - Dallara Mercedes) did not finish after charging through from his early drive-through only to be put out of action by Sainz as they battled for 8th.
Held in beautiful sunshine on the short, 3.629 km circuit at the Nürburgring as part of the DTM weekend the action was more like what is expected from a touring car race than F3. It began on the run down to turn 1 from the start as pole man Juncadella swept across to the right to defend very aggressively as Felix Rosenqvist (SWE - Mücke Motorsport - Dallara Mercedes) began to get alongside. As the track narrowed Rosenqvist moved left to stay off the grass, locked wheels with Juncadella and was spun into the barrier.
Before the 1st lap was over Sven Müller (GER - Prema Powerteam), Raffaele Marciello (ITA - Prema Powerteam - Dallara Mercedes) and Andrea Roda (ITA - Jo Zeller Racing - Dallara Mercedes) were also out and Michael Lewis (USA - Prema Powerteam - Dallara Mercedes) had spun before continuing.
All that brought out the safety car. Juncadella had the lead from Wehrlein, William Buller (GBR - Carlin – Dallara VW), Sainz, Alexander Sims (GBR - Threebond with T-Sport – Nissan) and Jazeman Jaafar (MAS - Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen).
At the end of lap 3 the safety car pulled in and the race was on. Juncadella was immediately notified of his drive-through penalty for causing the collision with Rosenqvist at the start. The Spaniard chose to stay out for a few laps but effectively that promoted Sainz to 3rd. The 17 year old Red Bull Junior was under great pressure from Sims though. The Briton had won Saturday's sprint race and was keen for another good result, too keen as he tapped Sainz from behind on lap 7. Sainz Spun while Sims continued but with front wing damage that would demand a pit-stop.
Juncadella served his drive-through and came out at the back leaving Wehrlein a clear leader. Buller was a lonely 2nd and Jaafar 3rd but under pressure from Britons Emil Bernstorff and Tom Blomqvist in their ma-con Motorsport - Dallara F312 VWs. Jaafar defended well all the way to the flag and the leader-board positions did not change. Blomqvist had some slight endplate damage and could not challenge his team-mate but ran close and successfully defended 5th from Michael Lewis (USA - Prema Powerteam – Dallara Mercedes).
The drama lay behind as Sainz recovered from his spin in 10th but overtook one car and gained another place as Sims pitted for a new nose. He was soon pressuring Luis Sá Silva (ANG - Angola Racing Team – Dallara Mercedes) for 7th, looking much quicker but unable to get past.
That battle for 7th intensified as Juncadella raced through from his penalty and was lapping over a second faster. By lap 17 Juncadella was on the tail of the Carlin VW and Sainz was showing the frustration of having been stuck behind Sa Silva for more than 5 laps. The race would be shortened from 29 to 28 laps because of the safety car period and the 40 minute time limit. There was still time for Sainz to pass Sa Silva but now the threat was Juncadella behind.
Going onto lap 17 Juncadella pulled alongside Sainz on the run to turn 1 as Sainz was also try to pass Sa Silva, it was 3 abreast. Sa Silva got away as Sainz fought back on Juncadella. He continued to do so as they raced side by side into turn 2, Sainz on the inside into the left hander and Juncadella just ahead. Sainz did not manage the left turn and locked wheels with the fellow Spaniard. As Juncadella's car leapt over Sainz the championship leader's car got a puncture and it was the end of his race. Sainz charged on but was then given a drive-through penalty and could do no better than 10th at the flag.
Sainz jun.: "Everybody saw what happened with Sims today. Once more a promising race got ruined again. This is completely unnecessary and obviously very annoying as well. I was again up there among the front runners as far as lap times were concerned today, but that's no use, is it??? And the accident with Juncadella was a normal racing incident."
The driver who benefitted most from all the drama was obviously race winner Pascal Wehrlein. The F3 Euro Series points table is still headed by Juncadella on 148 points after 15 of the 24 races but Wehrlein has moved into 2nd on 138 ahead of Marciello who went out on lap 1 and has 136.5 points.