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Nurburgring European F3: Red Bull ace Max Verstappen wins race one

Max Verstappen, Van Amersfoort, leads Antonio Fuoco, Prema, Nurburgring European F3 2014

Max Verstappen kicked off life as a Red Bull junior driver with a patient, measured European Formula 3 win in tricky conditions at the Nurburgring.

The van Amersfoort Racing man started on pole, but his run to victory was far from straightforward on a circuit that offered only a patchy dry line after yet more morning showers in the Eifel mountains.

Most of the field opted to start on slicks, but Spike Goddard, series debutant Andy Chang and Michele Beretta all took a chance on wets.

Given the frequent arrival of heavy rain this weekend, it wasn't the biggest risk in the world, especially given their starting positions at the back of the field, with T-Sport driver Goddard the highest-placed of the trio on the grid in 20th.

Wets were the thing to have in the beginning, especially with light rain making a brief return after a couple of laps.

Goddard made particularly swift progress through the field after Ferrari Formula 1 team protege Antonio Fuoco had made the best of a flying start from fifth place (on the dry side of the grid) to take the lead by Turn 2.

By the time Goddard caught the leaders on lap five of 25, Fuoco was a second clear of Verstappen, only to drop to third after a brief off.

Goddard then passed Verstappen on lap seven to lead the race.

At this point conditions brightened, and there would be no further rain for the rest of the race so Goddard's tyres were on borrowed time. Verstappen needed a couple of tries to reclaim the lead, but just after half-distance he was in front and there to stay.

From there the top three remained close but static, with Prema driver Fuoco and Carlin's Antonio Giovinazzi filling the podium.

Championship leader Esteban Ocon lost some of his advantage by finishing only sixth, keeping Verstappen's hopes of a late bid for the title alive as the gap came down from 94 points to 77.

Results - 25 laps:

Pos  Driver              Team/Car                          Time/Gap
 1.  Max Verstappen      Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW       35m35.010s
 2.  Antonio Fuoco       Prema Dallara-Merc                 +3.275s
 3.  Antonio Giovinazzi  Carlin Dallara-VW                  +3.789s
 4.  Jordan King         Carlin Dallara-VW                  +6.650s
 5.  Tom Blomqvist       Carlin Dallara-VW                 +11.650s
 6.  Esteban Ocon        Prema Dallara-Merc                +18.918s
 7.  Lucas Auer          Mucke Dallara-Merc                +22.352s
 8.  Felix Rosenqvist    Mucke Dallara-Merc                +24.972s
 9.  Santino Ferrucci    Eurointernational Dallara-Merc    +33.207s
10.  Ed Jones            Carlin Dallara-VW                 +33.767s
11.  Dennis van de Laar  Prema Dallara-Merc                +34.738s
12.  Felix Serralles     West-Tec Dallara-Merc             +41.642s
13.  Nicholas Latifi     Prema Dallara-Merc                +47.883s
14.  Gustavo Menezes     Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW         +48.247s
15.  Roy Nissany         Mucke Dallara-Merc                +57.942s
16.  Sean Gelael         Carlin Dallara-VW                 +58.751s
17.  Jules Szymkowiak    Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW       +1m17.741s
18.  Alexander Toril     T-Sport Dallara-NBE             +1m25.439s
19.  Spike Goddard       T-Sport Dallara-NBE             +1m31.922s
20.  Andy Chang          West-Tec Dallara-Merc               -1 lap
21.  Michele Beretta     Eurointernational Dallara-Merc      -1 lap
22.  Sandro Zeller       Jo Zeller Dallara-Merc              -1 lap

Retirements:

     Jake Dennis         Carlin Dallara-VW                   0 laps
     Tatiana Calderon    Jo Zeller Dallara-Merc              0 laps
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