Crash in Practice Complicates Tveter's Weekend at Red Bull Ring

SPIELBERG, Styria, Austria, Aug. 3 — Ryan Tveter's first FIA Formula 3 Europe event at the Red Bull Ring last weekend left him anxious to return to the 2.688-mile, nine-turn road course in the Alps to give it another go.

After earning his first points in the series at the most recent event July 10-12 in Zandvoort, the Netherlands, hopes were high for another great result at the Red Bull Ring. As it turned out the 21-year-old rookie from Oyster Bay, N.Y. was just glad to get some laps in, and he left Austria very thankful for the work of his team, Jagonya Ayam! with Carlin, and the sportsmanship of his fellow competitors.

Things started off well. Tveter was running seventh in the first practice session on Friday, but then he spun after accidentally running slightly wide over some wet AstroTurf that was laid on the exit of the high-speed Turn 8 to prevent drivers from intentionally running wide and gaining an advantage. His car went into and over the small sausage apex curb backwards at the next corner and became airborne. Tveter wasn't hurt, but the impact cracked both the engine and the tub of the yellow #26.

Switching to a new tub at that stage required special permission from the FIA, which agreed to the plan provided all the other teams would sign off on the idea. Showing great sportsmanship, the other teams agreed that Tveter would be able to start all three races from the pit lane, and his team put in very late hours getting the new car and engine ready in short order.

Starting on pit lane made another points-paying finish improbable, but Tveter's primary goal is seat time so he was just glad he was able to race.

With no shakedown run he only made a few laps in the first race on Saturday morning due to a problem with the car's fuel pressure, which the team fixed on pit lane.

After starting on pit lane in 33rd place again for the second race on Saturday, he had moved up two positions by lap seven after Tatiana Calderon spun and the driver who was sixth, Sergio Sette Camara, got a drive-through penalty for jumping the start. Right before that Tveter turned lap six in 1:26.754, which was faster than Gustavo Menezes did that circuit while running 11th.

Sette Camara passed both Tveter and Calderon working lap eight to push Tveter to 32nd, but he gained two positions working lap 12 when he passed Kang Ling and Mahaveer Raghunathan. Ling got him back two laps later. Tveter had three more good laps in the 1:26s but then his race ended prematurely when he went off course near Turns 4 and 5 and got stuck in a gravel trap, bringing out the event's only full-course caution.

The preliminary action and Saturday's races were held in perfect weather conditions, but heavy rain caused Sunday's race to be delayed and then eventually abandoned with five laps complete due to standing water on the course. Tveter had moved up two spots early after Julio Moreno spun and Ling pitted, but it was all for naught.

A large crowd was on hand on both Saturday and Sunday. Actors Michael Douglas and his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, were among those in attendance Sunday.

"I want to thank the Jagonya Ayam! with Carlin team for its hard work, the other teams for their sportsmanship, and the FIA for allowing us to use a new tub," Tveter said.

"Normally a spin in an area with a lot of run off like Turn 8, even if it's a high-speed corner, is harmless and you just keep going. However, somehow this one ended in damage to the two most vital parts of the car, the carbon tub and the engine, after impact with a one-square-meter sausage curb at the apex of the next corner.

"It looked like our weekend was over right after free practice 1, so I'm incredibly lucky to have been able to get out and do any laps in the races. Again, a massive thank you to the team for rebuilding the entire car overnight. I've left this weekend behind and am totally focused on bouncing back for the next round at Portimao after the summer break."

The next event is Sept. 4-6 in Portimao, Portugal, followed by the Nurburgring in Germany Sept. 25-27. The season finale is Oct. 16-18 in Hockenheim, Germany.

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