Hockenheim: Race of year?

The Formula 3 Euroseries produced a gripping inaugural season in 2003. The mix of talent from across the world meant a high standard of racing. The series provided the winners for both the Macau Grand Prix (Nicolas Lapierre) and the Marlboro Masters (Christian Klien)

Hockenheim: Race of year?

F3 is never predictable and the Euroseries went out of its way to prove it. No race summed up the lunacy quite like the first race at the second Hockenheim meeting, in October, which was arguably the maddest in any formula this year.

Chilly rain was present almost every time the F3 cars went out on track that weekend, which resulted in a grid that was more twisted than usual. Two of the main protagonists, Christian Klien and Ryan Briscoe, were supposed to be fighting out the championship but instead found themselves starting far down the field and spending nearly as much time off-track as on it come raceday.

The damp race began in that in-between zone. Slicks or wets? Competitors were divided on the subject. Normally hindsight makes it is easy to say who was right, but this time events conspired to make it a dead heat. The race was exactly the right length that it finished at the precise instant that slicks became the better option.

So slick runners were off the radar for much of the race as the wet-shod cars made the early running, but a safety car and a drying track made it just possible for slicks to charge back to win on the last corner.



Timo Glock did just that - leaving Bruno Spengler with a hollow feeling after he'd led most of the way. Glock and his smooth-tyred cronies made their unwelcome appearance halfway around a last lap that deserves its own yearbook. With no lack of bashing and shunting, Glock, Lapierre and Carbone dragged Spengler from first to sixth in about three corners.

There was incident and action on every lap of a race that no mere mortal could claim to have understood completely while it as happening. Spectators weren't the only ones to be muttering confusedly into their moustaches - even the drivers weren't quite sure what they'd just emerged from.

"I don't know what happened at the end there," said British driver Adam Carroll, who lost out on third place in the final bend.

Lapierre didn't quite follow either: "I took third in the last corner, but I thought it was fifth!"

And Greek driver Alexandros Margaritis was as surprised as anyone to find himself second, and the leading runner on wets. "I didn't expect a podium after starting 15th," he said.

The next day's race was a much more straightforward event in which Ryan Briscoe deservedly sealed the title. He can look forward to a full year's testing with Toyota F1 in 2004.

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