Zandvoort, The Netherlands (July 14, 2012) — After battling some unusual turns of events today, American Michael Lewis has qualified 9th for Sunday’s RTL GP Masters of Formula 3 race at the 4.307-kilometer Circuit Park Zandvoort in The Netherlands.
This morning when the teams and race personnel arrived at the race track during a heavy rain storm, the track’s grounds were flooded, which included the tunnel under the main straight that allows access to the paddock area. As a result, the teams had to wait outside the tunnel until the water was pumped from the tunnel to allow access to the pit area.
Two 20-minute qualifying sessions were scheduled today at 11:45 a.m. and 3:40 p.m., but due to the track conditions and continued rain, the race director delayed the morning qualifying session to 1:45 p.m., and the second session to 4:45 p.m. The fastest time recorded by each driver in either qualifying session will set the grid position for Sunday’s 2 p.m. Formula 3 Masters event.
Qualifying Session 1
With the first qualifying session switching to Saturday afternoon, light rain was intermittent as the 20 drivers took to the track. Michael Lewis’s PREMA Powerteam K&N – Eibach Springs sponsored Dallara F312 with Mercedes power was fitted with Kumho rain tires for the very wet track conditions. On his last lap of the 10-lap, 20-minute session, Michael squeezed out his best lap time of 1:46.417 that placed him 10th overall.
Because the second qualifying session was rescheduled to 4:45 p.m., the teams had time to prepare the cars after the delayed, and very wet, first qualifying session. During the three-hour window of time between sessions, the rain subsided and finally the sun appeared improving the track conditions. The teams were allowed to use two sets of Kumho Tires for the second qualifying session. The drivers had to be smart with balancing the two sets of tires as they must work for a strong qualifying effort in the first five laps and then come in to the pit area for the second set of tires with enough time left for another strong four-lap run.
Michael came into the pit box for his second set of tires ranked 4th on the speed charts and the PREMA team quickly installed four new Kumho Tires. Michael went back out onto the track for four laps to better his time. When the session ended Michael’s best time was 1:32.779, which ranked him 9th for the second session and will give Michael the opportunity to start in the 5th row for Sunday’s F-3 Masters Event.
“My car was perfect with the first set of tires and I told my engineer to go ahead and put on the new tires and do not make any changes,” said Michael Lewis. “But something strange occurred with the second set of tires and I ended up with a loose condition. This hampered my ability to improve my time and I dropped down the charts as a result. I have a good car and it is a long race on Sunday, so now I must concentrate on working hard to pass cars and earn a strong finish.”
The prestigious RTL GP Masters of Formula 3 event is considered one of Europe’s most important Formula 3 races because it attracts some of Formula 3’s best drivers at the event. Many successful Formula 1 drivers have competed in this special traditional event for F3 cars and drivers. A total of eight regular Formula 3 Euro Series drivers, including Michael Lewis, will start in the race’s top 10 tomorrow.
“I am excited about the opportunity to compete in the famous race with my PREMA team in my Mercedes-powered Dallara F312,” said Michael. “The PREMA team has worked hard all weekend to give our drivers everything needed to have a successful run on Sunday and I am looking forward to participating in this event at Zandvoort.”
The RTL GP Masters of Formula 3 race is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. (8 a.m. EDT/5 a.m. PDT) on Sunday. The race is scheduled for a maximum of 60 minutes or 25 laps, whichever comes first.
Michael Lewis’s 2012 sponsor lineup includes Eibach Springs, K&N Engineering, GoPro, Electric Sunglasses, Klotz Synthetic Lubricants, Cometic Gasket, Bell Helmets, Braille Battery, Wiisaa, CMNTY Clothing and Performance Racing Industry.
Qualifying for RTL GP Masters Formula 3
- Daniel Juncadella – PREMA Powerteam – 1:31.783
- Carlos Sainz Jr – Carlin – 1:32.312
- Raffaele Marciello – PREMA Powerteam – 1:32.433
- Hannes van Asseldonk – Fortec Motorsport – 1:32.533
- Felix Rosenqvist – Mucke Motorsport – 1:32.555
- Pascal Wehrlein – Mucke Motorsport – 1:32.629
- Will Buller – Carlin – 1:32.698
- Sven Muller – PREMA Powerteam – 1:32.768
- Michael Lewis – PREMA Powerteam – 1:32.779
- Alex Lynn – Fortec Motorsport – 1:32.782
- Pipo Derani – Fortec Motorsport – 1:32.878
- Felix Serralles – Fortec Motorsport – 1:32.915
- Dennis van de Laar – Carlin – 1:33.067
- Conor Daly – Double R Racing – 1:33.963
- Geoff Uhrhane – Double R Racing – 1:34.026
- Andrea Roda – Jo Zeller Racing – 1:34.103
- Sandro Zeller – Jo Zeller Racing – 1:34.125
- Luis Sa Silva – Angola Team Racing – 1:34.366
- Spike Goddard – T-Sport – 1:35.562
- Josh Webster – T-Sport – 1:36.550
(Results courtesy of www.stopandgo.tv.com)