Tveter Draws Closer to Points-Paying Finish After Three Solid Runs in FIA F3 Action at Spa

SPA, Belgium, June 22 — Ryan Tveter duplicated his best result to date in the FIA Formula 3 Championship and came within 0.533 of a second of scoring his first point in the series when he placed 11th on Saturday in the first segment of a tripleheader at Spa.

The series awards points to the top-10 drivers in each of 33 races annually.

The 21-year-old driver from Oyster Bay, N.Y. finished 12th in the second race on Saturday afternoon and 14th on Sunday morning, gaining more valuable experience in this ultra-competitive series.

Driving the #26 fielded by Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, Tveter started 15th in the first race, which was staged on a drying track. He got 14th working lap eight by passing Callum Ilott. Tveter and Brandon Maisano exchanged positions before Tveter got the upper hand and 13th place on the following lap. He moved into 11th working lap 14 after the leader, Antonio Giovinazzi, suffered a flat left-rear tire after contact and then Tveter passed Max Gunther. Tveter went on to finish 11th but the battle wasn't over, as Alessio Lorandi passed him and Tveter passed Sam MacLeod on the final lap of the 16-lap/35-minute contest on the 20-turn, 4.352-mile road course. He set the seventh-fastest lap of the race to boot.

Saturday morning's race didn't have any full-course cautions but that wasn't the case with Saturday afternoon's race about five hours later. Tveter also started 15th in that race. He dropped to 19th initially but he was back in 15th where he started by the second full-course caution on lap six. One of his rivals pitted under that yellow due to a mechanical issue to move Tveter into 14th place, but there was a big gap between seventh and the rest of the field for the restart on lap eight. Despite that challenge Tveter was able to advance to 13th on lap nine by passing George Russell right before another one of teammates, Gustavo Menezes, had a nasty flip to bring out the third yellow on lap 10. Luckily Menezes wasn't hurt. His departure gave Tveter one more spot for 12th place, and that race ended under yellow.

Tveter started 13th on Sunday morning. It wasn't raining but the track was definitely wet and very slippery. Anticipating correctly that the track would dry as the race progressed, Tveter chose slick tires and hoped for the best. He had a great start, but unfortunately he was hit just hard enough to send him and another driver spinning in Turn 1 on the first lap. Three other drivers spun a few turns later. Tveter was able to regroup quickly and went from last place back to 20th for the restart on lap three.

More spins by other rivals allowed him to advance to 17th, and he got one more spot when the leader, Mikkel Jensen, was taken out by contact. Tveter passed Lorandi for 15th on lap six, and he got one more spot when Matt Rao spun and hit a wall after contact with Fabian Schiller.

Unfortunately Tveter was spun again working lap nine and lost five of the positions he'd worked so hard to regain. He regained two of them when another rival spun too, and Tatiana Calderon pitted to replace her rain tires for slicks. He got 14th place when Giovinazzi pitted for a new nose for his Dallara and time ran out.

"After my accident in Monza and being in the hospital for almost a week, it was great to be back in the car at Spa," Tveter said Sunday night. "I felt really good and the weekend as a whole was solid. My pace in the races was very strong.

"Qualifying was tricky because of the weather," he added. "In Q2, two corners of the track were very wet but the rest of the track was dry. I was improving by about a second and a half. Then a red flag came out and I had to abort my last flying lap. It was tough to have to start in mid-field, but there wasn't anything I could do about the red flag.

"I had some really good fights in the races. They were all fair, and I just narrowly missed my first points finish in Race 1. I also set the seventh-fastest race lap in that race. The battle with Lorandi and others during the whole race was really good.

"Race 2 was more hectic with all the incidents, but I started 15th and came home 12th, so I was able to move up some.

"In Race 3 we had really tricky conditions, because we were on slicks and the track was pretty wet," he continued. "Wets were definitely the better option at the beginning, but slicks were the way to go because the track was basically dry at the end.

"I just ran out of room at the start," he said. "It was very slippery, and I got tagged in the first corner as two cars continued to turn into the apex when I was still on the inside. The spin dropped me back to last. I fought back to mid-pack, but then got spun again while fighting with [Pietro] Fittipaldi and fell back to last again, and then fought back again to 14th. It was quite a hectic race!"

The driving standards of some of the series' competitors were seriously questioned after a troubling outing at Monza at the end of May, but Tveter said he thought as a whole the driving this weekend at Spa was better.

"All the racing I was involved in this weekend was very fair and good competition," he said. "There were a couple of incidents that happened with others that weren't great, but the stewards did a very good job of investigating and giving penalties as appropriate. There were some drive-through penalties to enforce driving standards, and even a one-race ban for one driver, and that's how it has to be. I think the FIA is working hard to try to keep things fair and as safe as possible."

Tveter was among the top-five rookies for the weekend at Spa, and his team is currently third overall in the team standings.

The series' next race is another tripleheader this coming weekend, June 26-28, at the Norisring in Germany, which will be a new track for Tveter.

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