Leclerc takes European Formula 3 victory at Hockenheim

Charles Leclerc won a thrilling wet Formula 3 European Championship finale at Hockenheim after an epic fight with Felix Rosenqvist.

After a safety-car start, Rosenqvist got the hammer down at the green flag to begin the first proper lap of racing with a one-second advantage.

The Swede had built this to 1.5s within three laps, but then F3 rookie Leclerc began to trim it back.

Leclerc had moved right onto Rosenqvist’s tail by the 10th lap when he had a big moment at the Sachskurve, but gathered himself together and set off once more after the leading Prema Powerteam Dallara-Mercedes, which was suffering from overheating rear tyres.

On the 12th lap he was close enough to have a look at the Spitzkehre hairpin, but made light contact with Rosenqvist’s right-rear wheel with his left-front wing (“Probably my fault,” admitted Leclerc).

Two laps later the Monegasque teenager drew his Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara-Volkswagen alongside Rosenqvist to the outside of Spitzkehre, and then found traction on the exit to get the cutback.

They raced side by side towards the Mercedes Arena before Leclerc, on the inside line, grabbed the initiative, but no sooner had he done this than the safety car was called out again.

For the third time in six races this year, Pietro Fittipaldi had caused a race neutralisation, this time after tangling with Fortec team-mate Martin Cao – the Chinese spun and continued, while the Brazilian-American’s race was over.

That gave time for just two laps of racing, with Leclerc crossing the line at the green flag 1.1s clear, extending that to 2.4s next time around and then taking the flag 2.8s in front of Rosenqvist.

“It was a really hard race,” said Leclerc. “I had quite a bad start, but then I managed to come back to Felix.

“The car was amazing and after the safety car I was able to build quite a big gap, so I’m really happy.”

Mucke Motorsport rookie Maximilian Gunther finally looked set to grab his first podium, despite pressure from Antonio Giovinazzi, but the German spun through 360 degrees at Turn 1 on the final lap, dropping him to fifth.

Carlin driver Giovinazzi then survived a huge wobble at Sachskurve before completing the podium and retaining his championship lead from sixth on the grid.

Gunther’s final-lap error promoted Mucke team-mate Mikkel Jensen to fourth, and Gunther then endured contact later in the lap with another Mucke car, that of Santino Ferrucci.

The American had edged Lance Stroll off the track into the Spitzkehre just after the final restart, and was penalised 20 seconds after the race, dropping him to 28th.

Gunther was therefore promoted back to fifth, with Prema driver Stroll completing the top six.

Markus Pommer took another points finish with seventh, while Jake Dennis emerged atop a fight with Alexander Albon and Callum Ilott to take 10th.

Ilott had qualified fifth, but what appeared to be a light tap from Jensen at Spitzkehre on the first lap of racing spun him round and consigned him to the fringe of the points.

RESULTS – 18 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Charles Leclerc Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Volkswagen 36m03.129s
2 Felix Rosenqvist Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 2.998s
3 Antonio Giovinazzi Jagonya Ayam with Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 7.136s
4 Mikkel Jensen KFZTeile24 Mucke Motorsport Dallara/Mercedes 8.045s
5 Maximilian Guenther KFZTeile24 Mucke Motorsport Dallara/Mercedes 10.940s
6 Lance Stroll Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 12.475s
7 Markus Pommer Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 13.351s
8 Jake Dennis Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 14.132s
9 Alexander Albon Signature Dallara/Volkswagen 15.367s
10 Callum Ilott Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 15.788s
11 Gustavo Menezes Jagonya Ayam with Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 16.517s
12 Dorian Boccolacci Signature Dallara/Volkswagen 18.490s
13 Arjun Maini Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Volkswagen 20.351s
14 Sam MacLeod Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 20.837s
15 Fabian Schiller Team West-Tec F3 Dallara/Mercedes 21.368s
16 Raoul Hyman Team West-Tec F3 Dallara/Mercedes 22.048s
17 Brandon Maisano Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 22.857s
18 George Russell Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 23.234s
19 Michele Beretta KFZTeile24 Mucke Motorsport Dallara/Mercedes 23.689s
20 Ryan Tveter Jagonya Ayam with Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 23.883s
21 Martin Cao Fortec Motorsports Dallara/Mercedes 24.852s
22 Nabil Jeffri Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 25.256s
23 Matt Solomon Double R Racing Dallara/Mercedes 25.823s
24 Kang Ling KFZTeile24 Mucke Motorsport Dallara/Mercedes 26.579s
25 Tatiana Calderon Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 26.920s
26 Julio Moreno ThreeBond with T-Sport Dallara/NBE 28.449s
27 Sergio Sette Camara Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 28.869s
28 Santino Ferrucci KFZTeile24 Mucke Motorsport Dallara/Mercedes 29.680s
29 Zhi Cong Li Fortec Motorsports Dallara/Mercedes 30.707s
30 Mahaveer Raghunathan Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 32.648s
31 Matt Rao Fortec Motorsports Dallara/Mercedes 47.700s
32 Nicolas Pohler Double R Racing Dallara/Mercedes 1 Lap
Pietro Fittipaldi Fortec Motorsports Dallara/Mercedes Retirement
Alessio Lorandi Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Volkswagen Retirement
Nicolas Beer EuroInternational Dallara/Mercedes Withdrawn

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

Pos Driver Points
1 Antonio Giovinazzi 106
2 Charles Leclerc 101
3 Felix Rosenqvist 92
4 Jake Dennis 46
5 George Russell 41
6 Lance Stroll 36
7 Maximilian Guenther 34
8 Alexander Albon 34
9 Gustavo Menezes 26
10 Markus Pommer 22
11 Mikkel Jensen 20
12 Brandon Maisano 19
13 Callum Ilott 14
14 Santino Ferrucci 11
15 Pietro Fittipaldi 4