Pole, Victory and Points lead for Marcus Armstrong
Marcus Armstrong sealed the championship lead in the FIA Formula 3 this weekend, following a commanding performance, which saw the rookie driver celebrate his maiden win, two pole positions and appear on the podium in every race.
Taking to the streets of the picturesque German town of Nuremberg, the talented grid of young racers returned for the 3rd round of the FIA Formula 3 Championship. The Norisring circuit offers little room for error with high speed straights, tight hairpins and the additional challenge of an uneven, bumpy surface that is synonymous with street tracks. With talent and confidence, Marcus was keen to build on his previous performances, to chase his first victory of the season.
Despite the rain on Friday afternoon, Marcus’ spirits were anything but dampened as he headed into qualifying. Due to the short nature of the track, the session was divided into 2 groups, with Marcus in the second wave of drivers to set their laps. With a calm and collected approach, the Kiwi driver bided his time to mount his campaign for pole position. On a drying track, the drivers rapidly traded top spot with each lap set, but hooking a lap together with perfect timing, Marcus achieved his first pole position in F3.
Polesitter to winner-winner
Anticipation built as Marcus lined his Prema-powered car on the starting grid for Race 1, with a clear road ahead, the 17-year-old had his sights firmly set on victory. With a faultless start, Marcus powered off the line and ensured he maintained the lead into the first sweeping turns. But following contact further back in the field, his charge was halted by the appearance of the safety car. As soon as racing resumed, Marcus affirmed his lead once again and with supreme pace he began to pull a sizeable gap to the chasing pack. With his rivals battling for position behind him, Marcus ran a perfect race to cross the line 3 seconds ahead of his teammate Ralf Aron and third placed Deruvala, in a lights-to-flag victory. Sealing his first win of the season, on first outing at the German street track, Marcus enjoyed the taste of champagne and a view from the top step:
“The race was nearly perfect. I caught them a bit by surprise on the restart and from there I managed the race, degradation isn’t high so the tyres were in a good condition, which meant I could push for most of the race. I’ve been having some bad luck, so I am particularly happy with this victory now.”
Fresh from his win, the Kiwi driver continued his momentum into qualifying on Saturday afternoon, where he further earned pole position for Race 3.
Leader of the pack
Taking to the track for Race 2 on Sunday morning, Marcus powered from P3 on the grid to challenge the leaders as they streamed into the first corner. However a dramatic starting grid incident, saw Vaidyanathan run head-on into Ticktum’s stalled car, littering the track with debris. Whilst both drivers were unharmed, the pack peeled into the pits following a red flag called to recover the wreckage. Eager to pounce from P2 once the racing got back underway, Marcus hooked into the back of Ahmed and ensured he was right in the thick of the fight for the lead. Under pressure from Vips almost immediately, Marcus defended hard but the Motopark driver benefitted from the slipstream to find a more advantageous line into the hairpin, to take second place on the road. The race running on fairly uneventfully, Marcus crossed the line in third but was later promoted to second place following a 20 second penalty for Ahmed. With another strong podium to add to his tally, Marcus’ supreme pace and consistency saw him take the championship lead, proving him as a real contender for the title.
3 for 3
Lining up on pole for the final race, the Prema driver poised himself for another strong performance. But in a frenetic start, all his efforts were hampered, as a multi-car collision saw just a short distance of the race run before a safety car was called for the 3rd race in succession. With time ticking down, the red flag allowed for cars to be recovered, cool as ever Marcus focussed on maintaining his lead at the restart. Rejoining the race behind the safety car, weaving to keep his tyres to temperature, Marcus restart got the better of Ticktum, to stay in front for the few corners before another safety car was called. But with cooling tyres and a lack of slipstream, Ticktum managed to squeeze his way through once the race resumed. Despite a chaotic race littered with incidents, the formidable rookie managed to hold his own at the front of the pack, defending and attacking throughout. Struggling with grip on the slippery street surface, he relented to third place, but rose to take his third podium in succession.
“My goal was to score as many points as possible. However, I didn’t expect to be on the podium here three times and to be taking the lead in the driver standings. The car felt great, so I was able to really push where it counted, the team has done a great job all weekend.”
Leaving Norisring with first, second and third place trophies, the Ferrari Driver Academy protégé has firmly made a name for himself against the fiercely competitive grid. Sealing off a stellar weekend, in only his third round at the wheel of FIA Formula 3 machinery, Marcus sits at the top of the championship standings. With talent, pace and a strong team behind him, he looks to continue his forward form in Zandvoort on 14-15th July.