Tveter Goes the Distance at the Nürburgring
NÜRBURG, Germany, Sept. 28 — Ryan Tveter completed all the laps possible in the three FIA Formula 3 European races at the Nürburgring last weekend despite a host of challenges that generated finishing positions that didn't reflect the American rookie's effort.
Tveter, of Oyster Bay, N.Y., started 20th in the first race Saturday morning on the famous 3.629-kilometer road course about 70 kilometers south of Cologne. With a starting position so far back in the field his primary goal was simply to finish the race with his #26 fielded by Jagonya Ayam with Carlin. He did that, although he was pushed wide in Turn 1 on the first lap by two rivals, had to avoid some debris, and dropped back to 28th position.
He regained two positions working lap two by passing Michele Beretta and Wing Chung Chang. He got another spot on lap three when Nicolas Pohler fell back. Tveter then passed Zhi Cong Li on lap four to rise to 24th, which is where he finished. He set his fastest lap of the race on lap eight. The field got spread out with no full-course cautions, and Felix Rosenqvist led all 25 laps under overcast skies.
Tveter started 15th and finished 16th in the second race Saturday afternoon, but not without an eventful beginning and middle of that 24-lap race. He lost two positions on the start to Alessio Lorandi and Sam MacLeod due to some questionable moves by some of his rivals, and he lost another spot to Tatiana Calderon working lap three after he was forced wide by Gustavo Menezes on the exit of Turn 5 and had to lift or crash. He got Menezes back on the next lap to regain 17th.
He advanced two more positions working lap five when Nabil Jeffri and Lorandi had contact. Another incident occurred on the same lap, forcing a full-course caution.
Alexander Albon forced Tveter wide to get around Tveter on the restart, and Tveter had his hands full to save them both. He was successful, but that dropped him to 16th. He maintained that position until the checkered despite another full-course caution that tightened up the field. He set his fastest lap just three laps from the finish in that race. Rosenqvist led every lap again, earning enough points to secure the drivers' championship.
Tveter started 14th in Sunday's race, just four spots out of a points-paying position, so hopes were high. He got a great start but his hopes were dashed in Turn 1 of the first lap when Arjun Maini locked his brakes and hit him. Tveter recovered, but he was knocked back to 17th and he lost one more spot to Albon on lap four before the first full-course caution waved.
He regained 17th on the restart on lap six when Pietro Fittipaldi served a penalty for jumping the start. At that point Calderon spun, and Tveter worked his way back past MacLeod. By lap eight Tveter was right back where he'd started, in 14th position.
He remained in 14th through the restart and the following lap, but just after he set his fastest lap of the race Dorian Boccolacci ran straight into him in Turn 1 and Tveter dropped back to 25th.
After a quick pit stop for repairs under the event's third full-course caution he settled into 23rd place, but thanks to his crew he didn't lose a lap. A fourth full-course caution then was needed when Lorandi and Calderon had contact.
There was only time for one last lap at speed after that, but Tveter rose two more spots on the last lap by passing Harald Schlegelmitch and Mahaveer Raghunathan. Rosenqvist completed his perfect weekend by again leading the whole race.
Afterwards the stewards ruled that Boccolacci will lose five grid positions at the next race for his actions on Sunday. The series' young drivers will all try again at the last tripleheader of the season Oct. 16-18 at Hockenheim, Germany.
"Nürburgring was quite a difference from our seventh and ninth place last weekend at Zandvoort," Tveter said. "I had the car within striking distance of points again, but multiple avoidable incidents not of my doing intervened in the races. Perhaps at this point in the championship some drivers seem to be feeling panicked about the approach of the season finale and want to make their mark on the results. We have been achieving our development year milestones all season long and are on track with the objectives we set in terms of consistently closing the gaps to the front. We are always pushing extremely hard. It's really a shame when good opportunities are thwarted by other drivers, but that's part of the learning process for everyone. The FIA has been very attentive to helping drivers learn from their mistakes, and that's a good thing. Forward now to Hockenheim."