The 2018 FIA Formula 3 European Championship has been decided with one race to spare. Mick Schumacher (PREMA Theodore Racing) is beyond reach in the lead of the drivers’ standings. For the 19-year-old, finishing second combined with seventh place for his only remaining rival Daniel Ticktum (Motopark) was enough to secure the biggest success of his career to date. Victory in the second race at the 2.84-mile-long Hockenheim circuit in high temperatures went to Estonian Jüri Vups (Motopark), whose compatriot Ralf Aron (PREMA Theodore Racing) finished in third place.
At the start, Vips took the lead, but immediately found himself under pressure from Schumacher. After a collision involving Enaam Ahmed (Hitech Bullfrog GP), Julian Hanses (Carlin) and Sacha Fenestraz (Carlin), the safety car was deployed. At that time, Ticktum, who had only started from 15th place on the grid, had already worked his way up to eleventh place.
After the restart, the order in the positions at the front remained unchanged. Schumacher initially put Vips under pressure for the lead, but lost contact to the rookie from the Motopark team after a driving error. After 21 laps of racing, he took the checkered flag in second place behind Vips and ahead of Aron and thus secured his most important single-seater racing title win to date.
“Of course, I am really happy with my title win,” Schumacher said. “I can hardly describe what a beautiful feeling it is to be doing something that you love really well. However, I also have a great team around me that is giving me the best conditions, enabling me to concentrate on what is important. I reckon that that is one of the keys to success.
“Moreover, we never gave up this season and have always tried to improve further. We never stopped working on ourselves. About this race: my start was average. Until the safety car came out, I had a close fight with Jüri. After the restart, I ran wide on the first corner and lost contact to him. After that, it took awhile for me to get my tires clean again and to find back my rhythm. However, the championship party still has to wait, because there is another race to run tomorrow in which I want to give the maximum once more.”
Further down, Ticktum was able to continue his progress. The Red Bull-backed Brit finished the 29th race of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship season in seventh place behind Vips, Schumacher, Aron, Jehan Daruvala (Carlin), Robert Shvartzman (PREMA Theodore Racing) and Fabio Scherer (Motopark). Alex Palou (Hitech Bullfrog GP), Nikita Troitckii (Carlin) and Guanyu Zhou (PREMA Theodore Racing) rounded out the top ten.
Race winner Vips moved up into third place of the drivers’ standings and is only 14 points down on Ticktum. In tomorrow’s final race of the season, the two teammates will be competing for runner-up position in the final standings.
“I am very happy about this victory,” said Vips. “I am now third in the drivers’ standings and still want to move up into runner-up spot tomorrow. In this race, I took the lead right away, but I made a little mistake at the restart and Mick was right there. When he then made a mistake himself a little bit later, I was able to pull clear and drive victory home.”