Harry Tincknell charges to fourth at Nurburgring
Harry Tincknell stormed to fourth place in the final race from ninth on the grid to give himself a good ending to the latest round of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship at the Nurburgring.
Engine problems in free practice set Tincknell’s weekend off to a disappointing start and from then on it was a case of salvaging as much as he could from the event on the German Grand Prix circuit. In the end, the 21-year-old Devon driver consolidated his fifth place in the championship thanks to two strong points-scoring performances in his Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen.
“On the data after free practice we could see we were losing three or four tenths of a second on the straights, so we knew we had a problem,” he said. “It was a big fight for the team to change it in time for qualifying. They literally had to bolt the car together and didn’t have chance to make any adjustments. But the main thing was getting that new motor in rather than making any changes to set-up – after all, without an engine you’re not going anywhere!
“My pace was OK in qualifying, and if I could put my sectors together I could have been in the top five. But because we hadn’t had time to get the set-up right we couldn’t get the tyres to come in consistently, and the last sector of the lap, where you really need traction, was bad for us because the rear tyres were going off just when the fronts were coming in.”
Still, Harry took top-10 grid positions for all three races, with a best of eighth for race two, but he lost places at the start in both of the first two races. A particularly grippy track meant that many drivers bogged down when they tried to get off the line and Tincknell was one of them.
That consigned him to 11th place in an uneventful opening race, but in race two there were some good fights, as Tincknell was involved in a big battle for the points-scoring positions. His bid to pass Michael Lewis for ninth was given further impetus when championship contender Felix Rosenqvist, who had stalled at the start, moved into Harry’s wheeltracks.
Tincknell pulled off a superb pass on American Lewis at Turn 4 on the penultimate lap, but then dropped back to 10th on the final lap when Rosenqvist got him at Turn 1.
“I was really pleased with my move on Lewis, but I was a bit disappointed to run wide at Turn 1 while trying to defend from Rosenqvist, and that allowed him to pass me,” he said. “But that evening we really studied the data and worked out a better plan on strategy for the final race on Sunday. I went into the race with a ball’s-out attitude!”
It worked. Tincknell wriggled his way into fifth place among the mayhem on the opening lap, and moved into a challenging position behind Rosenqvist. An early safety car meant his bid to exact revenge on the Swede was delayed, but after the restart he executed a similar move at Turn 4 to the one he’d made on Lewis the previous day.
Harry then attacked Pipo Derani for the final podium position for much of the race, but was eventually forced instead to defend from Rosenqvist, a task he managed to perfection to claim fourth place.
“I had a good start, avoided the crash halfway round the first lap and got up behind Felix,” he said. “I’d done the move yesterday so I knew I could do it again, so I just sent it down the inside and pulled the move off again. I thought about trying the same move on Pipo, but I didn’t quite get close enough.
“I’d already used all of my allocation of new tyres for the weekend so I didn’t quite have his pace as the race wore on, but I learned my lessons from yesterday and made sure I always put my car in the right part of the track to defend from Felix.”
That was a good way to end the weekend, bearing in mind there is now a long break until the end-of-season run-in begins at Zandvoort in the Netherlands on 27th-29th September.
“Getting P4 in the last race meant we ended with a highlight, so it’s much better that I’ve got that result to carry into the break and I think we learned some pertinent stuff from the weekend,” said Harry, who is a member of the BRDC’s Rising Stars initiative. “We can look forward to Zandvoort much more positively than if the Nurburgring races had ended like they did on Saturday.”