Rosenqvist wins F3 Masters as Merhi seals inaugural FIA F3 Trophy

Mucke Motorsport's Felix Rosenqvist scored his maiden victory of 2011 with a dominant performance in Sunday's Masters of Formula 3 at Zandvoort

Rosenqvist wins F3 Masters as Merhi seals inaugural FIA F3 Trophy

Starting from third on the grid, the Swedish teenager took full advantage of a nightmare getaway from Prema Powerteam's pairing of Roberto Merhi and Daniel Juncadella to take a lead he then never surrendered - eventually winning by just over five seconds at the flag.

Merhi and Juncadella made contact just metres away from the lights, triggering a chain reaction accident. While Juncadella was forced to retire, Merhi was disqualified from a ninth place finish for his part in the incident.

Merhi was able to wrap up the inaugural FIA F3 Trophy however as his closest rival in the points, Marco Wittmann (Signature-Volkswagen), failed to win the race.

The startline drama cleared Rosenqvist's path to the head of the pack, and the Mucke Motorsport driver rocketed away from second placed Wittman in assured fashion to open a peak lead of 6.7s by lap 18.

The former Swedish Formula Renault champion - who became the first man from his country to win the Masters - pointed to his race pace as evidence that he could have challenged for victory even if the Prema drivers had avoided their clash.

"The start was obviously key," said Rosenqvist, who gave the Mucke team its first Masters win since Christian Klien in 2003. "Daniel and Merhi were in the wall somehow, so I could pass them easily. That was a shame as I obviously wanted to beat them fairly on the track.

"I can't say that it was my toughest race, but I was pushing hard and nearly went off a couple of times. I didn't want to relax at all as that is when you're likely to make mistakes."

Wittmann came home in second, while behind him leading British series racer Kevin Magnussen (Carlin) held off a gaggle of cars to claim the final place on the podium.

Magnussen's weekend was disrupted by misfire problems in practice, partly explaining the Dane's 24 second deficit to Rosenqvist.

"It has been a difficult experience," said Magnussen. "I lost some time at the start of the weekend, but we did a good job in qualifying to bounce back a little bit.

"We made the best of it and I am pleased to finish on the podium in my first visit to the Masters."

Local racer Nigel Melker took fourth, but the Mucke man was unable to mount a serious overtaking attempt on Magnussen.

Magnussen's team-mate Rupert Svendsen-Cook gained three places in the start chaos to finish fifth, leading Signature's Daniel Abt across the finish line by just over a second.

Just 13 cars finished, and unfortunately for Prema its third driver Pipo Derani also sustained significant damage in the opening lap accident.

"I am really sorry for the team," said Roberto Merhi. "We should have finished one-two. I am not so happy at this moment, despite winning the Trophy.

"The main problem was that we had some clutch problems at the last race. My mechanics did a super job to find problem, but today I wasn't confident of doing a good start. When Daniel was alongside me he was in my blind spot. "

Results - 25 laps:
Pos Driver Team Car Time/Gap 1. Felix Rosenqvist Mucke Dallara-Merc 42m19.994s 2. Marco Wittmann Signature Dallara-VW + 5.182s 3. Kevin Magnussen Carlin Dallara-VW + 23.934s 4. Nigel Melker Mucke Dallara-Merc + 24.507s 5. Rupert Svendsen-Cook Carlin Dallara-VW + 26.170s 6. Daniel Abt Signature Dallara-VW + 27.232s 7. Laurens Vanthoor Signature Dallara-VW + 27.826s 8. Lucas Foresti Mucke Dallara-Merc + 28.944s 9. Jimmy Eriksson Motopark Dallara-VW + 30.377s 10. Jazeman Jaafar Carlin Dallara-VW + 40.802s 11. Carlos Huertas Carlin Dallara-VW + 41.923s 12. Kimiya Sato Motopark Dallara-VW + 48.439s Retirements: Daniel Juncadella Prema Dallara-Merc 0 laps Pipo Derani Prema Dallara-Merc 0 laps Carlos Munoz Signature Dallara-VW 0 laps Disqualified: Roberto Merhi Prema Dallara-Merc 
 
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Roberto Merhi keeps pole for the Masters of Formula 3, as Marco Wittmann tops wet second qualifying

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Series FIA F3
Author Peter Mills
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