Harry Tincknell emerges with top-five from tough weekend
FIA Formula 3 European Championship race winner Harry Tincknell had a tough weekend in the third round of the series at Hockenheim. But he ended it with blistering pace that shows he will be a contender when he returns to the German circuit in October, as well as a strong fifth-place finish.
Hot on the heels of his sensational win and double pole at Silverstone – a circuit he knows well – the 21-year-old arrived at Hockenheim, a track of which he had only brief experience thanks to a short test in a Formula Renault car.
That set Tincknell back, as did the fact that rain before qualifying meant the opening session started on a very slippery track. “I didn’t have any relevant track experience here,” he said. “I just had to do my best and try a few things out to learn. At Silverstone that worked for me, here it worked against me.”
It meant that Harry started his Volkswagen-engined Carlin Dallara from 11th on the grid for race one, 13th for race two and 12th for race three.
But an absolute rocketship start to race one, which took place on a wet track, propelled him from 11th on the grid to sixth by the first corner. And he was up to fourth by the end of the opening lap thanks to two drivers ahead spinning off.
As the race wore on Tincknell found himself under pressure from local ace Sven Muller, who demoted him to fifth. That was where he finished – a great result from an unpromising grid position.
“My 0-60mph time at the start was 3.9 seconds, and I’ve had slower than that in the dry!” he said. “If the run to Turn 1 wasn’t so short I could have made up even more places. The race was tough, because all the Carlin cars struggled with understeer in slow-speed corners in the wet. We just need to get our heads around the wet-weather Hankook tyres. We made a lot of changes to the wet set-up, but as it turned out we didn’t need them.”
That was because the second and third races were both dry. The second race was tough, with Harry finishing 13th, but in the third he was making up ground before a collision with Will Buller at the hairpin, and then an inadvertent clip from team-mate Nicholas Latifi that punctured Tincknell’s right-rear tyre.
After pitting for a new tyre and nose (a legacy of first-lap contact), he rejoined and set the third-fastest race lap, less than four hundredths slower than the fastest, and quicker than race winner Felix Rosenqvist.
“The second race was difficult and I finished where I’d started,” he said. “So we sat down afterwards and looked at the data, trying to change the car to suit my driving style for race three.
“I got some damage to the nose on the first lap. Someone hit me up the back and I hit the car in front. It was just a hole in the nose and it didn’t slow me down – it gave me a nice little bit of air-con!
“Then I got caught out when Will braked much earlier than you would expect him to at the hairpin. I only just touched him but because he was already on full lock to turn in it spun him round. I lost momentum and Pipo Derani and Latifi got by me, but Latifi just tagged my wheel.
“After the pit-stop I was really quick. It was very good in the first sector, which is where I struggled in qualifying, and although there were no points I felt it was a big step forward. Everything felt a lot better and I actually did a better lap time than in qualifying, which is really unusual in F3.
“If we started the weekend again from the position we finished it, then I know I’d be right up there. I just paid for my lack of experience of the track, but I’m looking forward to going back to Hockenheim in October because now I know what I need to do.”
Next up is another ‘home’ race for Harry. He has dropped to sixth in the European F3 points table, but is confident of making progress back up the table at Brands Hatch on 17th to 19th May.
In the meantime Harry, who is a member of the BRDC Rising Stars initiative, will be part of a feature shown on the BBC during next Saturday’s coverage of Spanish Grand Prix qualifying. Along with Formula 1 newcomer Max Chilton and several other of British motorsport’s top rising stars, he trained with the Chelsea Football Club heroes as part of the MSA’s Team UK programme before showing them how to do it on racing simulators. A Trading Places episode that’s not to be missed!