Debut victory for Ferdinand Habsburg

 

Austrian Ferdinand Habsburg (Carlin) won the second race of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship at Spa-Francorchamps. At the 7.004 kilometres long Grand Prix track in the Ardennes, the great-grandson of the last Austrian emperor Karl I stood on the top step of the podium for the first time in the series. Joel Eriksson (Motopark) finished second in the 17th race of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship season, followed by Maximilian Günther (Prema Powerteam). The German remains in the lead of the drivers’ standings from Lando Norris (Carlin), who retired after an accident on the opening lap.

Lando Norris took the lead at the start, but collided with Guanyu Zhou (Prema Powerteam) at the end of the long Kemmel straight and retired, as did the Chinese Ferrari junior driver. Callum Ilott (Prema Powerteam) returned from the opening lap as the race leader, but had to defend his position from the attacks by his team-mate Maximilian Günther. The Brit only succeeded for one lap, then the German went past. A little bit later, Jake Hughes (Hitech Grand Prix) also overtook his compatriot Callum Ilott. An entertaining five-way battle for the lead followed that, next to Günther, also included Ilott, Hughes, Jehan Daruvala (Carlin) and Ferdinand Habsburg. Later on, the Indian dropped out of this battle, so that a quartet of drivers remained in the battle for victory.

Habsburg, officially named Ferdinand Zvonimir Maria Balthus Keith Michael Antal Bahnam Leonhard, gradually worked his way up through the ranks and finally overtook Günther for the lead on lap twelve. After that, he drove a safe victory home.

Behind Habsburg, who had started from eighth place on the grid, Joel Eriksson took the flag in second. The Swede, who had started only twelfth, made up a total of ten positions and was rewarded with 18 championship points. These allowed him to move up within one point from runner-up Lando Norris.

In a race that also had numerous battles in the midfield, Maximilian Günther eventually came third. Jake Hughes finished fourth from Nikita Mazepin (Hitech Grand Prix), Jehan Daruvala, Callum Ilott, Ralf Aron (Hitech Grand Prix), Mick Schumacher (Prema Powerteam) and Joey Mawson (Van Amersfoort Racing). Due to a two second penalty imposed on Nikita Mazepin after the end of the race, the Russian ended up in seventh place and Daruvala and Ilott were promoted to fifth respectively sixth position.

Ferdinand Habsburg (Carlin): “Winning an FIA Formula 3 European Championship race is a really nice feeling, especially at a track with such a long heritage as Spa-Francorchamps. The race was great fun and especially from lap ten onwards, I had a really good feeling. Then, I gave it everything and indeed, it was enough for victory.”

Joel Eriksson (Motopark): “This race was really entertaining. My start wasn’t good and the first few laps weren’t great either. Then, I said to myself that I had to keep cool, which I did. Later on, I managed to overtake one driver after another, which brought me up into second place. In this race, my car was much better than in the first race in which I had too much oversteer. Now, the balance was really good, which is also making me optimistic for the race tomorrow.”

Maximilian Günther (Prema Powerteam): “I have to admit that the two drivers in front of me were simply faster. Third place was all I could do. My start was good and I had a nice battle for the lead with Callum over many laps. I was in front for most of the time, but I couldn’t pull a gap. When Ferdinand and Joel attacked, I had no chance. Still, Lando Norris, one of my main rivals in the battle for the title, didn’t score any points, which is positive for me in terms of the drivers’ standings.”