Merhi takes Hockenheim victory

Roberto Merhi survived a late race attack from Marco Wittmann to win the first Formula 3 Euro Series race of the weekend at Hockenheim

Merhi takes Hockenheim victory

The Prema Powerteam driver held on to the lead from pole position after defending from his team-mate Daniel Juncadella at the start. As the rest of the field scrapped behind him he was able to build up a lead of more than three seconds in the first five laps.

But from lap eight onwards Wittmann began to chip away at Merhi's lead. Ten laps later it was down from 3.6s to less than 1s and the Spaniard appeared to be a sitting duck as the Signature driver closed in.

But last year's championship runner-up was unable to launch any out-and-out attacks on the race leader. Merhi defended aggressively at times, particularly into the Mercedes Arena.

Wittmann then closed in on the penultimate lap for one final challenge, but a messy first sector for the German on the last lap gave Merhi enough of a gap to hang on for victory.

The pair finished well clear of Laurens Vanthoor (Signature), who took third after dispatching of Felix Rosenqvist (Mucke Motorsport) on lap four.

Vanthoor had initially challenged Juncadella for second on the opening lap, but the pair both ran wide at the Spitzkehre hairpin which led to them losing positions.

Juncadella fared worse than Vanthoor though, as the Spaniard dropped to sixth. He ran close to the scrap between Daniel Abt (Signature) and Rosenqvist for most of the race, but was unable to make an impression before dropping back after making an error in the closing stages.

The front row for race two will be occupied by Nigel Melker (Mucke) and Carlos Munoz, who finished seventh and eighth respectively. Melker took seventh and therefore gave away pole position by putting a move on the Signature driver on lap seven.

Merhi also took the victory in the first round of the FIA International trophy. As Wittmann is not entered in the series, the Spaniard was always on course to take the spoils in the new-for-2011 championship.

Results - 25 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Roberto Merhi Prema Dallara-Merc 39m46.951s 2. Marco Wittmann Signature Dallara-VW + 0.703s 3. Laurens Vanthoor Signature Dallara-VW + 4.692s 4. Daniel Abt Signature Dallara-VW + 7.790s 5. Felix Rosenqvist Mucke Dallara-Merc + 8.341s 6. Daniel Juncadella Prema Dallara-Merc + 9.846s 7. Nigel Melker Mucke Dallara-Merc + 14.668s 8. Carlos Munoz Signature Dallara-VW + 16.446s 9. Jimmy Eriksson Motopark Dallara-VW + 20.248s 10. Jazeman Jaafar Carlin Dallara-VW + 20.688s 11. Carlos Huertas Carlin Dallara-VW + 26.207s 12. Tom Dillmann Carlin Dallara-VW + 33.479s 13. Sandro Zeller Jo Zeller Dallara-Merc + 37.689s 14. Kuba Giermaziak Star Dallara-VW + 1 lap Retirements: Gianmarco Raimondo Motorpark Dallara-VW 17 laps Kimiya Sato Motorpark Dallara-VW 16 laps 
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Wittmann and Merhi take poles

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