This weekend, the Dutch circuit of Zandvoort, famous as a Formula 1 venue in the 80s and well known for its ups and downs that replicate the dunes from the nearby North Sea, hosted Round 8 of the ten round FIA Formula 3 European Championship.
Coming into the weekend, Raffaele Marciello had a lead of over 60 points over nearest rival Felix Rosenqvist, thanks to a peremptory three-out-of-three at the previous round at the Nurburgring. However, the Ferrari Driver Academy youngster encountered more difficulties than expected as the sessions got underway, securing two fifths and one seventh place at the end of a tough qualifying. It meant that previous aspirations had to be tempered given the difficulties of overtaking at the Zandvoort track. In Race 1, Marciello maintained his grid position to take the chequered flag in fifth place. It was a case of damage limitation, but the points were still valuable in the context of the championship.
The next two races were definitely more tricky. In Race 2, Raffaele stalled the engine at the start and was left stranded on the grid, which would weigh heavily as he was only able to finish sixteenth. In the last race of this Dutch trip, the FDA man was dueling with Danil Kvyat for fourth place when, on lap 16, he went off the track, hitting the barriers on the outside of Turn 5. As a precautionary measure, Marciello was taken to the medical centre at the track, where he was given a clean bill of health.
An unpleasant end to the weekend, even if Raffaele still left Zandvoort leading the championship, but with his lead over Rosenqvist reduced to 9.5 points. The series will be back in action for the penultimate race of the season at the Italian Vallelunga circuit, from 11 to 13 October.
“This weekend did not turn out at all as I had expected. I struggled to get a good feeling with the car right from the first practice session, coming up against more difficulties than usual in terms of finding the right balance for the car. The situation improved a bit in qualifying, but when I thought I could be third fastest, the session was red flagged, which certainly didn’t help. In the first race, everything went to plan, given than overtaking is almost impossible here: I started and I finished fifth. Unfortunately, on the negative side this weekend are two mistakes I made in the next races. In race 2, I stupidly stalled the engine at the start, while in the third, I lost control of the car at turn 5. I was right with Kvyat and maybe because I was so close to his car, I lost aerodynamic downforce at the rear and ended up off the track. Now, all I can do is put this weekend behind me and concentrate on the next round on the calendar, which takes place in Italy. I hope I can have a much better weekend.”