Roberto MerhiLeading Formula 3 Euroseries entrant Manor Motorsport concluded the 15th and 16th rounds of the season at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain over the weekend, 19th/20th September, disappointed to miss out on race one points by a single position.

Spaniard Roberto Merhi, racing in his homeland for the first time in the world’s most competitive F3 championship, climbed through the order well in the opening race of the weekend on Saturday from an uncharacteristically low starting slot of 19th position.

He finished as the top Manor driver in ninth place, frustratingly one spot behind the final points paying place which, in turn, would have given the 18-year-old pole position for the second outing on Sunday morning by virtue of the championship’s reverse grid rule for the top eight finishers. Just that one place could have made all the difference to the team’s weekend.

Brazilian Pedro Enrique, who qualified further back in 24th spot, made up ground too and ended the opening encounter in 15th position, just over a second shy of Swiss driver Christopher Zanella. For fellow South American Cesar Ramos, his day’s work on Saturday ended on lap 12 when he was forced to retire.

For round 16 on Sunday, Merhi lined up in ninth position but had to drop-out of the race on lap 25 with car problems. Ramos and Enrique did at least both finish the encounter with the former taking 16th position and the latter rounding out the top 20.

This weekend’s Barcelona action actually marked a return to F3 Euroseries competition for Manor with the team having last weekend been involved in the British Formula 3 International Series event at Portimao, Portugal, where Merhi and Enrique both took part as invitational drivers.

Reflecting on the Spanish event, team principal John Booth said: “It’s been a shocker of a weekend really, very disappointing and one we need to put behind us. We had a problem with Roberto’s car in the second race but the biggest issue for us has been the lack of grip and the inexperience of our three drivers on such a surface. It’s been a tough event.

“Hopefully we’ll be back where we should be at Dijon for the next round, it’s a higher grip track so that should suit us and we’ll hopefully be able to get back near the front. We’ve had one or two bad rounds recently so if we can get back into the points during the final two events we’ll be happy.”

Television highlights of this weekend’s racing from the Circuit de Catalunya will be screened on Sky Sports in the UK throughout the week – please check listings for further details.

Next on the calendar for Manor’s F3 squad will be the sole visit of the season to France with rounds 17 and 18 of the campaign set to take place at the Dijon-Prenois circuit on 10th/11th October.

Photo by F3 Euro Series