Steeped in racing history, nestled within the leafy Royal Park, the Autodromo Nazionale Monza set the scene for the second round of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. The Italian temple of speed’s thrilling high-speed straights and gruelling long right-hand turns, provided an exciting challenge for the dynamic young grid.
Working flat-out since the season opener just two weeks ago, the Hitech squad were itching to get out on track, hungry as ever to show our hand in the championship fight. With a unseasonably wet track for the test day, it was a chance for our Japanese protege to prove his worth, posting a sensational second in the timings in only his second outing on the European scene. With encouraging pace continuing into Free Practice, the team set to work on our Mercedes-powered chargers to extract every ounce possible for the weekend ahead.
Pushing for Points
As the Italian sun beat down on Saturday morning, a tricky qualifying session gave our formidable foursome an enticing challenge for Race One. Shooting off the line, the pack powered down to the infamous turn one. Jake Hughes grappled for position on the inside as he fearlessly locked wheels with Zhou, judging the gap Jake readied himself to put the power down into Curva Grande. As the pack streamed around the historic circuit, mere millimetres apart, it was clear we were set up for a thrilling nail-biter to the flag. Right in the thick of the action, Ralf Aron put in a stellar performance scaling through the field from P16 on the grid, to raise a few high-fives back in the garage. A perilously close battle with teammate Nikita Mazepin in the lingering laps had us on the edge of our seats, as a last lap tangle under braking saw Ralf having to take the escape road. Returning to the track, the Estonian ace led our foursome home in P8, with Jake taking the final point-scoring place ahead of Nikita and Tadasuke.In a clean getaway into turn one, the Monza crowd were treated to another close battle in Race Two. Our Hitech heroes proving their undeniable talent, in a hard-fought display of control and combat. Relentless Ralf challenged Zhou on lap one, resisting the pressure of Mawson behind with some sideway action into Variante Ascari. Hindered by penalties from the tangle with Ralf and being perceived to be holding up Piquet in qualifying, Nikita put his visor down with astute determination to make up positions. The Russian rocket did not disappoint, claiming the last of the points with a strong recovery to 10th place.
Locking horns as we go wheel-to-wheel
Race Three turned out to be a tricky final outing for the Hitech squad. Losing out on lap one, Jake returned to the pits to be greeted by consoling pats on the back from the team, the Brummie wonder already looking to fight back next time out.
Back on track, the tenacious trio carved their Hitech chargers through the tightly-knit field, laying down every ounce of their Mercedes power in a bid to chase those illustrious points for the team. With 4 cars running side-by-side into the chicane, it was a nail-biting thriller as Ralf tousled wheel-to-wheel with Piquet, the Brazilian mounting his rear right tyre. With Nikita nestled deep within a fight with the Zhou and Sato, he narrowly missed out on the final point of the race. Tadusake rounded off his weekend with a strong showing in 13th, in only his first visit to the punishing high-power track.
Talented Tadasuke gives us his view on the challenge:
“This season represents a huge challenge for me as the tyres, the car and the entire European motor-racing environment also are new to me. To rise to this challenge represents an extraordinary motivation”
In a triple-point scoring weekend, Ralf gave us the lowdown:
“The weekend has been really hard, but we made a big step forward as a team, which makes me really happy. A lot of hard racing and a lot contact, which tends to be the case at Monza. Overall I feel like we made a huge step and will be a lot stronger at Pau. I’d like to give a huge thanks to the team for all the hard work they keep on putting in!
With promising pace and a positive step forward for the team, we look forward making some noise in the thrilling streets of Pau in just three weeks time.