Tveter Earns First Points with a Ninth
In FIA Formula 3 European Series
ZANDVOORT, The Netherlands, July 12 — For the second consecutive year, young Ryan Tveter of Oyster Bay, N.Y. has had a breakout event at a track in the Netherlands.
Last August he posted his first podium finish in a Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup race at Assen. On Saturday afternoon the rookie earned his first points on the next step to Formula 1 when he finished ninth in the second race of a tripleheader for the FIA Formula 3 European Series at Zandvoort, on the coast about 132 miles southeast.
Tveter, who drives the #26 for Jagonya Ayam! with Carlin, started 13th in Race 2. Tveter has had some extremely good starts and Saturday's was no exception, as he passed Callum Ilott to get one position before the driver who started fifth, Lance Stroll, crashed a little later on the opening lap to give Tveter another spot.
This series only counts points for the top-10 finishers, and Tveter was in 11th place, sandwiched between Santino Ferrucci and Dorian Boccolacci, for the restart on lap three. He was 0.694 of a second behind Ferrucci when he got into a points-paying position on lap six after the points leader, Charles Leclerc, whose car was damaged in the Stroll incident, landed in a gravel trap off Turn 7 while running fifth.
Ferrucci was still in front of Tveter for the restart on lap 10 but Boccolacci had a problem on the next lap, allowing one of Tveter's teammates, Gustavo Menezes, to drop in behind him. Tveter hit his marks and stayed just a half-second behind Ferrucci the rest of the way. Menezes got as close as 0.414 of a second behind Tveter on lap 13, but Tveter had increased his advantage to 0.745 of a second over Menezes when the checkered waved on lap 20. Although Tveter crossed the line in tenth place, he actually was awarded ninth after the event due to a penalty bestowed on one of the drivers ahead of him, so he earned two points instead of one.
The 21-year-old driver didn't fare as well in the other two races due to damage to his car's wings. He started 16th in the first race on Saturday morning and he was as high as 15th, but he had to pit three laps before the finish due to broken support mounts on the left side of his car's front wing after debris from another car wedged against it on the second lap.
Saturday's races were held under sunny skies and warm temperatures, but it was much cooler for Sunday's race. Tveter had high hopes for this race because he had matched his best starting spot of the year, ninth, in the 34-car field.
He passed Alex Albon immediately to rise to eighth, but Albon got him back on the second lap to push him back to ninth before the first of three full-course cautions waved on lap four when Matt Solomon landed in a gravel trap.
He was sandwiched between Albon and Ferrucci for the restart on lap six, but Ferrucci was able to squeeze past after he got a good run on that restart. Another full-course caution waved two laps later when Mikkel Jensen crashed. At that point the points leader, Leclerc, had moved up to 11th, right behind Tveter, and he was determined to get into a points-paying position.
Tveter held him off for the next green-flag lap, lap 10, before another full-course caution waved when Menezes and Nicolas Pohler made contact, with Pohler getting airborne.
There were just under six minutes left in the 35-minute timed event when the race restarted once again on lap 15. The officials wanted to complete at least 18 laps if possible in order to award full points to the top-10 finishers.
Unfortunately Tveter came within about three minutes of getting another point. He successfully held off Leclerc, which was not an easy assignment, but he dropped out with 17 of the 19 laps complete when a broken front wing caused him to go on a bumpy ride through a gravel trap on the exit of the high speed, penultimate corner. The wing had been damaged during slight contact earlier in the race as the pace car and yellow flags came out when he came upon a stopped Ferrucci in a high-speed section at racing speed. The wing held up until the very end, but due to the high speeds at this particular track it finally gave away, denying Tveter of another points-paying finish.
The TV commentators, reporting live, mistook Tveter's late incident as driver error and did not know that he had a damaged wing, although it could be seen flapping around after the final restart. They were also unaware of the debris that caused his retirement in the first race of the weekend.
Of the 19 laps run Sunday, 11 were done under green-flag conditions and eight were under yellow.
"It felt great to break into the points on Saturday after being so close a number of times this season," Tveter said afterwards. "Thanks to my team, Jagoyna Ayam! with Carlin, for giving me a great car.
"The wing trouble I had in Race 1 was a freak kind of thing caused by debris," he said. "The wing damage in Race 3 came from a mishap as the safety car was deployed near the end of the race. It was pretty heartbreaking, causing me to go off in the last corner on the penultimate lap. Zandvoort is a super fast and physically demanding track. You really don't get far with a compromised wing.
"Still I feel good about being able to fend off guys like Charles Leclerc, who was leading the championship, and I feel terrific about the overall progress we made this weekend," he concluded.
The series' next race is another tripleheader July 31-August 2 at Red Bull Ring in Austria.
Fans can follow Tveter through his Web site at RyanTveter.com, Facebook, Twitter and You Tube. The team's Web site is at Carlin.co.uk and the series' Web site is at FIAF3Europe.com. Video of all the races is available on You Tube.