F3 European

Tsunoda wins, Lawson second, Vips fights back in Monza F3

Yuki Tsunoda

#21 Jüri Vips (EST – Hitech Grand Prix Mecachrome Dallara)
Qualifying: 15th – Race 1 Grid: 17th – Race 1 Result: DNF (Incident)
Race 2 Grid top 8 in reverse order: 25th – Race 2 Result: 11th
FIA F3 Championship position: 3rd – 122 points – after 14 of 16 races

#14 Yuki Tsunoda (JAP – Jenzer Motorsport Mecachrome Dallara)
Qualifying: 11th – Race 1 Grid: 6th – Race 1 Result: 3rd
Race 2 Grid top 8 in reverse order: 6th – Race 2 Result: 1st
FIA F3 Championship position: 8th – 67 points – after 14 of 16 races

#4 Liam Lawson (NZL – MP Motorsport Mecachrome Dallara)
Qualifying: 13th – Race 1 Grid: 14th – Race 1 Result: 7th
Race 2 Grid top 8 in reverse order: 2nd – Race 2 Result: 2nd
FIA F3 Championship position: 11th – 40 points – after 14 of 16 races

Two excellent drives from Yuki Tsunoda netted him a maiden F3 win in Race 2 at Monza after taking third in Race 1. The 19-year-old Japanese was chased home on Sunday by impressive fellow Red Bull Junior Liam Lawson, the 17-year-old New Zealander was seventh on Saturday.

For Jüri Vips it was a tough weekend but the 19-year-old Estonian put in a great drive from 25th to 11th in Race 2 after a collision put him out of Race 1.

Tsunoda on a mission

The Honda Formula Dream Project driver was the man of the weekend, especially considering that it was his first time at the classic venue and the variety of conditions thrown at him.

"Yeah, obviously I am happy, a good weekend, a lucky weekend," he smiled. "Honestly I am quite surprised to get the win, my first time in Monza. Early in the weekend it did not go so well, I struggled in difficult wet conditions early on and we had changeable conditions all weekend, it was very difficult."

"In Race 2 I got a really good start and passed three cars off the line. That helped a lot. I kept pushing and got into P1 but I also knew I had to manage the tyres as the track would be drying and I needed to keep something for the end."

"Also in Race 1 I made a good start but then I lost one position before Turn 2. I managed the tyres, overtook when I could and also I was a bit lucky with cars ahead, two got punctures but still it was a good race."

"I am happy that I gained experience and was driving consistently as well as getting my first win. I know that there are still things to improve on certainly, still qualifying must be better. Thanks to the team for a great car and I am happy that we got the win," concluded the Jenzer Motorsport driver.

Lawson on form

Recovering from a poor start in Race 2, Lawson was embroiled in an intense battle for fourth on the wet but soon drying track. The Kiwi put in a great effort, battling through to second and impressively closing on teammate Tsunoda at the end.

"For me it wasn't amazing, if I'm honest I'm disappointed," admitted Lawson frankly." I blew it at the start, I had it on the bite point but didn't get away and the others just drove past us off the line and the race was done there really."

"Those are the conditions I love and excel in, especially when it was wettest early on. Unfortunately I was then stuck behind Scherer, I just didn't have any speed on the straight and I would make it all up through the corners but it took a while to get past."

"It was tougher as things dried because there was just one dry line. By the time I got through to second I really had used the tyres and didn't have the traction that Yuki did. Just lost too much in turns one and two, made it up everywhere else but didn't have a chance to pass."

"Don't get me wrong, P2 is good and the start is down to me. I can't help being disappointed though. Those conditions are what we needed."

"Qualifying was a big frustration, we were all bunched up behind a few cars and they penalised almost everyone, it made no sense and that really hurt, starting P14 when we had the pace to be quick in the dry."

Vips on the back foot

Unfortunately Monza did not see a return to his mid season form and good fortune even though an excellent drive off the back of the grid in Race 2 took him through to 11th. "Ah yeah, but it doesn't matter too much," chuckled the Hitech Grand Prix driver grimly. "A shocking weekend really, I am just lucky that my rivals also struggled in Race 2."

"Qualifying wasn't as good as I wanted. In the second run we improved a lot, on a good lap and quick enough in the first and second sector to be at the front but it was a mess with all the cars bunched up and no one could finish the lap."

"Then in the first race, starting further back with drivers who, let's say, don't drive as cleanly as I am used to, was bound to be a battle and it ended in a collision."

"Today I was actually quite slow at the start, we were all on rain tyres. It seemed we had a bit drier set up than our competitors and I struggled early on. As the track dried, the set-up was right, I got quicker and could pass. P11 was as much as I could do but it certainly wasn't what we wanted from this weekend."