Ericsson takes first win at Rockingham
31 May 2009 – The Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series welcomed its fourth different victor of the season this afternoon at Rockingham, super Swede Marcus Ericsson breaking his duck finally after four second-place finishes last season and a further runner-up spot earlier today.
The 18-year-old, guesting with the Raikkonen Robertson team during a break in his Japanese F3 schedule, always had the pace to win but the pole-sitter was beaten to the front in the first hairpin by Riki Christodoulou, who went on to lead for 12 of the 22 laps until he was penalised for being out of position on the startline.
"I had some problems with the clutch slipping at the start," said Marcus, "but I got away OK. Then Riki was very brave into the first corner and took the lead. I had the pace to attack him in the race but when I saw the penalty sign I was able to settle down and relax.
"Last year was very tough: we were so close so many times, it was frustrating. But I got my first F3 win in Japan earlier this year and it was good for my confidence, such a relief. Now I am driving with confidence, and it shows. This weekend has been a dream."
The first lap of the race was hugely messy, with several separate incidents leading to four retirements and a dire race for round five victor Nick Tandy and his JTR Mygale. Nick's car was shoved by another into the Dallara of Renger van der Zande; the Dutch driver was out on the spot while Nick limped to the pits for repairs. He made it back on track and though he finished down in 14th he was able at least to score the point for fastest lap.
Out of the chaos of the opening lap emerged Henry Arundel in third place behind Christo and Ericsson, with Adriano Buzaid close behind and Daisuke Nakajima just ahead of championship leader Daniel Ricciardo. Christodoulou's exit from the race - he was first ordered to the pits for a drive-through penalty and then black-flagged after the punishment was taken late - bumped everybody following him up one place.
Thus Arundel finished an excellent second in his Volkswagen-powered Carlin Dallara and made his maiden visit to the British F3 podium. "It's been a long time coming," said Henry. "I've always known that I had the potential. It's been a tough start to the year, so this is exactly what I need and we can move forward from here."
Buzaid was pleased also for his T-Sport team with third spot - his second podium of the year - and Nakajima consolidated his improving championship pace with fourth. Ricciardo, his first-race mishaps forgotten, enjoyed an uneventful run to fifth ahead of Walter Grubmuller and Victor Garcia, the Spanish racer seventh for his best finish of the season.
Gabriel Dias was a first-lap casualty, as was Victor Correa, which left Daniel McKenzie with a clear run at National Class honours. "It was absolutely manic on the first lap, the worst I have seen," said Dan. "The main thing was to keep your nose clean, which I managed to do by taking to the grass. Gabriel didn't and it's cost him. I had a good race, we've improved the car a lot and I'm looking forward to Hockenheim next weekend." Team West-Tec's Max Snegirev took class second.