Antonio Giovinazzi impressed during the 23rd staging of the prestigious RTL GP Masters of Formula 3 race at Zandvoort in The Netherlands this afternoon, Sunday, 7th July, to seal a hard-fought top 10 finish for Double R Racing on his debut in the blue riband event.
In warm and sunny conditions at the famous Dutch venue, the Dallara-Mercedes driver started the encounter from 15th on the grid and although elbowed back a position after being held up into Turn One, Tarzan, he mounted a strong drive through the order.
Gaining a couple of places on lap five, after Lucas Auer and Sven Muller tangled at Tarzan, Giovinazzi piled on the pressure to local racer Dennis van de Laar and made the breakthrough on the seventh tour to take 13th place. Swiftly dispatching Josh Hill shortly after on the very same lap, the Double R man moved into the top 12.
Quickly reeling in Michael Lewis, Giovinazzi then spent the remainder of the 25-lap encounter trying to get by the overtly defensive American. Attempting everything he could to get alongside his rival, the Italian bravely tried to go around the outside of Lewis at Tarzan on lap 20 and managed to remain wheel-to-wheel as he nosed ahead into 11th place on the exit.
Edged wide onto the grass, Giovinazzi lost momentum for the next left-hander and so Lewis was able to re-assume 11th position. Retirement for Tom Blomqvist three laps from the finish, though, hoisted Giovinazzi into 11th before moving into the top 10 on the last lap when the relentless pressure finally told and Lewis slipped back a couple of positions. Notably, Giovinazzi set the fourth fastest race lap.
“Antonio did a great job”, said Double R Racing team principal Anthony ‘Boyo’ Hieatt, “He delivered impressive pace and was a real handful, it’s just a shame we couldn’t get ahead of van de Laar and Lewis sooner as Antonio had the speed. It’s a good result though for his first time at Zandvoort, and good experience for the European Championship race here in September.”
Team-mate Sean Gelael’s Masters of F3 debut came to an unfortunate and all-too-early end on lap 13 after an excursion while running in 18th position. Qualifying 21st on the grid, the Indonesian racer gained two places on the opening lap and did a good job of holding position despite strong pressure.
Moving into 17th place on lap five, as a result of the Auer/Muller incident, Gelael slipped behind the advancing Roy Nissany on lap six. He was then elbowed back to 18th position on the eighth tour prior to his unfortunate retirement soon after.
Tatiana Calderón finished her maiden Masters of F3 outing inside the top 20 after a consistent and controlled drive. Lining up on the last row of the grid in 24th place, the Colombian gained a position straight away and moved into 21st on lap five when Auer and Muller collided.
Fending off the attentions of Andre Rudersdorf for several laps, Calderón had to give best on the eighth tour but moved back into 21st following Gelael’s retirement and then climbed into the top 20 when Blomqvist retired with just three laps remaining.
“Both Sean and Tatiana performed well this weekend, it was a big challenge racing at the Masters for the first time and trying to learn about the Kumho tyres”, added Hieatt, “It’s a shame Sean’s race ended all too early, he’d been going well, but Tatiana’s top 20 was a solid effort.”
Double R Racing will be back in action next weekend, 13th/14th July, with the resumption of the 2013 FIA Formula 3 European Championship at the Norisring in Germany.