Stuvik maintains championship lead after hot Spanish Formula 3 race

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The 4th Round of the European Formula 3 Open Championship was hosted in the south of Spain last weekend at the F1 testing circuit Jerez, with summer temperatures climbing to 40 degrees Celsius.  The huge variations in temperature from morning cool to blistering hot mid day would cause some challenges for the set up of the very aero dependent Formula 3 cars.  Thailand’s Sandy Stuvik finished Friday’s Free Practice sessions in 5th, 7th and 1st place as the team progressively worked through set up alternatives.

Stuvik qualified P3 for the first of the two races, but had an uncustomary slow race start and immediately lost a place to teammate Santiago Urrutia.  Midway through the first lap Stuvik mounted an attack to regain 3rd position and the two drivers went side by side though the hairpin turn 6, but the Thai driver again fell back to 4th position.

Sandy Stuvik enters the pits during qualifying for the 4th Round of the European Formula 3 Open Championship in southern Spain, Saturday, June 15.Sandy Stuvik enters the pits during qualifying for the 4th Round of the European Formula 3 Open Championship in southern Spain, Saturday, June 15.

At the halfway point of the race Stuvik made an uncharacteristic mistake and went wide onto the gravel in turn 5 and lost another position.  He held on to the 5th place until the checkered flag.  Controversy would follow though, as the 2 fastest cars were disqualified after illegal modifications were found in the post-race scruteneering.  Consequently, at press time the results for the first race are still provisional following an appeal.

Stuvik was fast and stayed P2 until midway through the second qualification session, but with all the traffic on the track he could not capitalize on his new set of tires and ended up in P6 starting position.  In the race he had a very good start and was up to 4th place on the first lap and aggressively challenged his French teammate Alex Cougnaud in front.  However the Jerez circuit is notoriously hard to overtake on and the Thai driver eventually would take the checkered flag in 4th place.

Notwithstanding the final points tally being under review until the FIA tribunal’s review of the first race disqualification, Stuvik still leads the 2013 European Formula 3 Championship with a healthy lead.  The teams now move on to Silverstone in the United Kingdom for the 5th Round on 14-15 July.