Tveter Fights Hard at Norisring
NUREMBERG, Germany, June 28 — After starting the weekend with great pace in practice before unfortunately just missing a couple tenths in qualifying, Ryan Tveter was able to advance six positions in the first race and eight positions in the third race as the young American gained valuable experience last weekend in his first visit ever to the Norisring, an eight-turn, 1.4-mile street circuit in Germany. Unfortunately he was the victim of contact early in the second race of the FIA Formula 3 European Series tripleheader, but luckily he was unhurt.
The weekend started off extremely well for Tveter who posted the fourth fastest time in both free practice sessions just 0.148 seconds from P1 in Practice 1 and just 0.006 seconds separating him and P2 in Practice 2. Tveter was feeling confident going into qualifying, but missed a couple tenths in Q1 leaving him P10 in his group, 0.313 seconds off the fastest time and P11 in Q2, 0.328 seconds off. The smallest of margins in this ultra completive championship left Tveter starting 20th for Race 1, 22nd for Race 2, and 20th for Race 3.
A drenched track complicated things for the first race Saturday morning. The 21-year-old driver from Oyster Bay, N.Y. started 19th after grid penalties were applied from the previous weekend and the start was held single-file behind the safety car due to the conditions. After three laps behind the safety car the race began under green flag conditions. He passed two rivals to gain two positions right away despite torrents of rain and spray compromising visibility and making the track conditions treacherous. He passed Michele Beretta to get another position and rise to 16th by lap five, and he stayed in that spot for the next three laps.
Tveter advanced one more spot on lap nine when Alessio Lorand went off into an escape area, and he rose two more spots when two other drivers crashed working lap 18. That accident generated a great deal of debris and caused a long yellow that lasted until the 35-minute time ran out, leaving Tveter to take the checkered flag in 13th, right behind Mikkel Jensen, one of the polesitters at Spa.
The street course was dry for Saturday afternoon's race, in which Tveter started 20th. He made a great start to the race and had already gained a couple positions off the line heading into the first corner. Many drivers missed their braking points and went too deep on the first lap leaving Tveter a great gap to make up some positions before trouble struck when Tveter's car was launched into the air by teammate Tatiana Calderon who unexpectedly swerved to the right making contact with Tveter’s rear left wheel. Calderon was trying to avoid slower cars on the inside of the corner, but Tveter had nowhere to go and was airborne. Fortunately the car landed softly and Tveter was able to spin the car back in the right direction and get going again, albeit in last position. On the third lap; however, after regaining a few positions Tveter was taken out of contention when Arjun Maini hit into his rear left wheel, breaking Tveter’s suspension and putting him out of the race.
Tveter started 20th in Sunday morning's race, but stalled off the line. He was able to re-fire the engine extremely quickly and get going before losing too many positions. Two other cars stalled on the grid, but were not able to get going and immediately the safety car was deployed. After a good restart, crashes involving Gustavo Menezes and Max Gunther gave him four spots after the first few laps, and he got one more when he passed Kang Ling.
When the action resumed he was 23rd, sandwiched between Nicolas Pohler and Julio Moreno. He passed Pohler on lap 15 for 22nd place, and then got another spot when he got by Beretta two laps later. He moved up to 20th on lap 20 by passing Pietro Fittipaldi, but on the next lap Fittipaldi got him back and Lance Stroll passed him too. Beretta got by on lap 22 to drop him back to 23rd again.
He was still running, however, which couldn't be said for Matthew Rao and Nabil Jeffri, who crashed in the hairpin on lap 24 to bring out another yellow and advance Tveter into 21st place. He was able to hold off all his challengers on the restart on lap 29. Sergio Sette Camara got by him on the very last lap to push him back to 21st in the hotly-contested race. He was 0.230 behind Beretta and 0.250 ahead of Ling at the finish.
“My rookie season in F3 is all about learning. We showed great pace in practice and were looking very competitive, but I just didn’t quite get my lap together in qualifying and those couple of tenths made a massive difference. The races were intense and tough starting from around 20th, but there were definitely some positives to take away and some things to improve for Zandvoort. As always, a huge thanks to the guys at Jagonya Ayam! with Carlin for all their hard work!”
The series' next race is another tripleheader July 10-12 at Zandvoort, the Netherlands.