Rookie driver Lando Norris wins season-opening race

Rookie driver Lando Norris (Carlin) got his first full FIA Formula 3 European Championship season off to a perfect start. Already having claimed pole position for the season-opening race in yesterday’s qualifying, the McLaren junior driver went on to claim victory in the first race of the year. In spite of challenging conditions, his lights-to-flag victory at the 5.981 kilometres long Silverstone Grand Prix circuit was never in doubt. The 17-year-old Briton crossed the finish line 1.683 seconds ahead of his compatriot Jake Dennis (Carlin), who finished second. Third position went to German Maximilian Günther (Prema Powerteam).

Due to rain at the start, the race got underway behind the safety car. On lap three, the field was released, but soon after that, Nikita Mazepin (Hitech Grand Prix) collided, first with Joey Mawson (Van Amersfoort Racing) and then with Pedro Piquet (Van Amersfoort Racing). For the Russian, the race ended early in the gravel trap. A little bit later, Callum Ilott (Prema Powerteam) spun into the gravel trap from second place, which caused the second safety car intervention of the day. At that time, Lando Norris was in the lead from Jake Dennis, Maximilian Günther, Joel Eriksson (Motopark), Joey Mawson and Mick Schumacher (Prema Powerteam). After the next restart, Schumacher tried to overtake his rival Mawson for fifth. His attempts, however, were in vain, as Ralf Aron (Hitech Grand Prix) crashed into the tyre stacks following a collision with his team-mate Jakes Hughes (Hitech Grand Prix). Once again, the race was neutralised behind the safety car.

Once the safety car had returned to the pit lane, Lando Norris again held on to the lead. Meanwhile, Mick Schumacher defended his position from a charging Guanyu Zhou (Prema Powerteam), but was unable to keep the Chinese at bay until the end. Thus, the rookie finished eighth in his FIA Formula 3 European Championship race debut. Ahead of Schumacher, Lando Norris was first across the line from stalwarts Dennis and Günther. Eriksson, Mawson as the second-best rookie, Harrison Newey (Van Amersfoort Racing), Zhou, Schumacher, Piquet and Jehan Daruvala (Carlin) rounded out the top ten.

Lando Norris (Carlin): “First of all, I want to thank my team Carlin for providing me with such a great car. After a rather disappointing season last year, they have been working hard during the winter and improved significantly. Qualifying already went very well with first place, but winning the race is even more beautiful, of course. The first two laps of the race weren’t easy because of the slippery track, which was already obvious to see with several drivers having problems. I already tried to warm up my tyres behind the safety car after the start. After the restart, I wanted to pull a gap, but without taking too many risks. It all worked out very well and I am happy with this start into the season.”

Jake Dennis (Carlin): “Moving up from eighth on the grid to finish second isn’t that bad, neither from the driver nor from the team. The fact that the race started behind the safety car wasn’t particularly helpful. However, it went well and I was able to overtake Maximilian just before a safety car intervention. I am very happy with this second place.”

Maximilian Günther (Prema Powerteam): “On the first few laps, the track was still pretty slippery. Then I decided not to take too many risks at the beginning, which surely was a good idea. Whether Jake overtook me before or during the safety car, I can’t really say. Later on, I tried to get second place back, but I didn’t manage. At the end of the day, I am also happy with third place, I have scored valuable points.”