F3 Euroseries pacesetter Edoardo Mortara took two podium finishes at the Hockenheimring to ensure that he left the second weekend of the season nursing a narrow one-point advantage at the head of the drivers' standings.
Despite starting third in the opening race, the Italian was alongside polesitter, and Signature team-mate, Marco Wittmann and P2 man Daniel Juncadella into turn one, and edging ahead of the German at the hairpin, but Wittmann was not to be passed and, pushing Mortara onto the marbles, reclaimed the lead. Mortara, meanwhile, fought back and immediately overtook Juncadella around the outside of turn five to settle into second.
However, even though he then set the fastest lap of the race, and was running around 0.9secs behind Wittmann, there was no way to pass his rival safely, and the Italian settled for second in order to preserve his tyres.
“A great day for the Signature team and Volkswagen, and congratulations to Marco," he commented later, "I led briefly on the straight, but was forced to yield for Marco. I attacked for the next twelve laps, but it's important to be intelligent and to not take too big a risk when you're fighting for the championship, and this is particularly true when racing a team-mate so, for the final six laps, I backed off to preserve my tyres.
“The championship is long and it's important to score podiums each time we go out, so I can be happy about this weekend so far. I still need to get on top of qualifying – P3 was, in my view, disappointing yesterday and I paid the price for it today. Had I started on the front row, I would have won, but Marco did a great job yesterday, and deserved this victory.”
Having finished second in the feature race, Mortara started seventh on the reverse grid for race two, and made a slow getaway after briefly stalling the VW engine in his Signature entry. That error lost him two positions, but the 23-year old hauled them back with two brilliant first corners.
By lap two, he was up to P5 and, by lap eight, into P4. When Antonio Felix da Costa was given a drive-thru' penalty on lap nine, when Mortara was all over the back of him, it bumped the Italian up to third. He then sustained mid-race pressure from Wittmann before finding more speed and pulling away to secure a second podium of the weekend.
“It's strange because I'm always on the podium at Hockenheim but never winning," he reflected, "Race two was a lot more difficult for me than race one. In race one, we
started with new tyres while the others were running half-half, so we could pull away quite easily. Today, I had to fight the car from lap three until the end.
"I stalled at the start so that didn't help, but I made two super corners and got those positions back. It was sliding everywhere – there was no grip at the rear. I managed to keep my team-mate behind but, honestly, it was really difficult. The middle part of the 25-lap race was not quick for me but the track improved and I was then able to close the gap to the top two cars and create more room between Marco and I.
“To start seventh on the grid and have that problem to then come through and take third is a good result, and it's nice to be back on my own at the top of the leader