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Perez extends series lead – Kiwi slips to fourth

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Perez extends series lead – Kiwi slips to fourth

A first corner delay and a mid-race coming together frustrated Brendon Hartley’s rise up the rankings in the British International Formula 3 Championship at Monza in Italy overnight. The Kiwi failed to finish and his Red Bull Dallara-Mercedes has slipped to fourth in the overall series.

He had climbed to third overall after a strong run from 13th place to second in the Saturday race in Italy; but suffered from the confused qualifying that saw him only 11th on the grid for Sunday’s race.

Into the first corner Hartley was pushed onto the grass and was virtually last on the road after recovering. Then, on lap 9, he tangled with Austrian Walter Grubmuller at the second chicane and damaged a suspension tie rod.

“It was crazy going into the first chicane – I just had nowhere to go. A lot of cars went up the inside and I had a half spin. I was trying to come back up through the field after that but I got squeezed by Grubmuller. I was halfway alongside him at the chicane - there was enough room until he came across on me,” explained Hartley.

Sergio Perez completed a dominant weekend at Monza taking a crushing victory from 14th on the grid for the second time in as many days. The Mexican had to start from the middle of the field after having his two fastest times in qualifying taken away for cutting chicanes, but his pace and well judged overtaking brought him to the front again.

Having won three of the last four British F3 races, Perez has extended his lead to 80pts. The Finn Atte Mustonen is second on 48pts with Carlin team mates Oliver Turvey and Hartley in third and fourth with 47pts and 45pts respectively.

In a 28 car feild that was almost exclusively Mercedes-engined Dallara chassis; Sunday’s race was a day for the alternatives. Perez won with a Mugen Honda-engined Dallara, Esteban Guerrieri was second in a French-built Mygale with a Mercedes engine and Mustonen was third in the best placed Dallara-Mercedes. All three chassis-engine combinations were on the podium.

Hartley was a victim of a first lap pile-up at the Ascari chicane that forced the Safety Car to be employed while the track was cleared. Perez was still 13th when the race restarted but a combination of the power of his Mugen-Honda on the straights and exceptional braking into the chicanes had him up to sixth in just two laps.

He made light work of Mygale teammates Esteban Guerrieri and Michael Devaney, and Carlin's Jaime Alguersuari, to climb to third, and then patiently picked off Atte Mustonen for second and Max Chilton for the lead.

Once in front, Perez had to soak up pressure from Guerrieri, as he had in the first race, but he was faultless and never looked like surrendering his lead, and the perfect weekend.

Behind Perez, Guerrieri scored the result he deserved the previous day. Then he was knocked out of second place, but now he got the better of Mustonen and Chilton to improve Mygale's best F3 result from third last time out at Croft, to second.

Mustonen went some way to making up for the disappointment of yesterday, when he was the victim of a first corner shunt, by taking the final place on the podium.

Nick Tandy put in his best drive yet in his Mygale, fighting his way through from 12th at the end of the first lap to fifth place, ahead of Chilton and Jaime Alguersuari, who drifted out of the fight at the front in the closing stages.

The race was halted a lap shy of the intended distance when Sebastian Hohenthal suffered his second airborne shunt of the weekend at the first chicane, being launched into a roll after contact with Oliver Turvey.

The next two races in the British F3 Championship are at Rockingham next weekend.

19th May, 2008.



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