In the final Formula 3 race of the weekend, Championship leader Dennis Hauger took a lights to flag victory with relative ease as he almost confirmed the title this season.
By Tyler Foster
Hauger now leads the Championship by 43 points over title rival Trident’s Jack Doohan going into the final round in three weeks’ time at Sochi.
“I am really happy with the result, it’s great for the Championship. It has been an up and down weekend overall, but I am really happy to get the points in the end. We’ll keep moving forward for Sochi now.”
Starting on pole after a strong performance in qualifying on Friday, Hauger controlled the lead from the start. He never looked to be threatened and was dominant throughout, building a lead of 5 seconds to second place.
With only a few laps remaining, Victor Martins attempted a lunge down the inside of David Schumacher into Turn 3 for 2nd place, however Martins clipped the back of Schumacher sending him into the wall, resulting in a 10 second time penalty for the Frenchman. This allowed Trident’s Clement Novalak to pick up his second consecutive 2nd place finish of the weekend and ART’s Aleksandr Smolyar to grab his second consecutive 3rd place finish in two rounds.
Other than the late Virtual Safety Car, caused by the Martins-Schumacher collision, Hauger was unphased and won by 5.3 seconds in the end.
Hauger had a 7th place finish in Race One this weekend and showed pace and bravery in overtaking. The second sprint race was less successful for the Norwegian as he suffered a late puncture after a collision with Ido Cohen and was classified in 27th. He spoke about the different challenges faced in leading the race compared to following the pack.
“This was the first race (this weekend) I haven’t been in a train behind someone, so the first time in clear air. That was a lot nicer. You find some tricks along the way, you try to keep the rear tyre temperatures down but it’s not easy because there are a lot of things that happen throughout the lap all the time. There are not a lot of straights so you have to keep it smooth. The more mistakes you make the harder it gets for the tyre as well.”
After a disappointing outcome in the previous round at a wet Spa, Hauger has regained the initiative in the Championship with 35 points this weekend. The Prema driver showed pace all weekend long and has relished the challenge of Zandvoort’s unique layout.
“Spa was a hard weekend for us, but at this track we put in a quality lap (in qualifying). From the drivers’ point of view, I think that it is one of the coolest tracks I have ever been to with the banking and the high-speed corners, although it is tight. It is quite different from any of the other tracks. For me I enjoyed it a lot, especially on those push laps. For racing obviously, it is a bit harder but it is still not impossible. I enjoyed every single bit of it.”
With this weekend being the second in a back-to-back, the drivers certainly will have been pushed physically. When speaking to selected media including F1 Feeder Series, Hauger commented on the physical battle that Zandvoort offered.
“I think it is definitely one of the more physical tracks on the calendar. Especially in the high speed and with the banking, it makes everything quite hard, plus going for 24 laps. It was not a big issue in the end, we managed it well even with the tyre degradation which makes it more physical. It was good fun around here, I enjoyed it.
With just one round remaining in the Formula 3 calendar, and the news that the series will no longer be racing it in the United States, the F3 paddock will travel to Sochi for 24th – 26th September. Both Hauger and his team Prema, are leading the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Standings comfortably and will be looking to close out the Championships in style.
“I’m not really worried too much about it. We are just going race by race and try to keep my consistency up in getting the points, especially on a Sunday. I have kept my mindset the same all season and try to work on myself and not worry too much about the others. It’s worked out pretty well so far so I just need to keep focusing on what I can control.”
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