Will Buller made a solid start to his assault on the 2013 FIA Formula 3 European Championship despite being forced to battle against challenging weather conditions at Monza.
Having joined T-Sport to drive its ThreeBond Nissan-powered car this season, the 20-year-old headed into the opening meeting of the season in confident mood having topped the two pre-season tests at Catalunya and Monza.
Two tough qualifying sessions however saw Buller secure a best starting slot of ninth for the three races, which would be held in vastly different conditions.
With the team having worked to improve the car of the first race of the weekend, Buller produced a fine drive to climb from twelfth on the grid to finish just off the podium in fourth, although race two – which started behind the Safety Car after heavy rain on Sunday morning – would end in disappointing fashion when he was collected by an out-of-control Mans Grenhagen while on course of another top six finish.
Having escaped injury, and with his heavily damaged car repaired, Buller then went on to take seventh in the final race of the weekend, which was again held in wet conditions and which was brought to an early conclusion after an a number of incidents elsewhere in the field.
“It's a bit disappointing to come away from the weekend with the points we did, although I'm happy with the way we performed in the three races,” he said. “We went into the weekend on a high after the results in testing but didn't quite get things right for qualifying which meant there was work to do in the races.
“The team worked hard to improve the car for the first race and made a number of changes and it felt really good. I was able to lap strongly and worked my way forward and fourth was a good result considering where I started.
“The conditions on Sunday were some of the worst I've faced while I've been in F3 and in the first race of the day I was battling for fifth place before the accident that put me out. There was absolutely nothing I could do about it as the guy behind made a mistake and I just got wiped out, which was disappointing as we could have picked up another strong finish.
“The team did a fantastic job to repair the car for the final race and it felt perfect. The conditions again were so difficult and it was the right call to stop the race early, even though I think we could have finished higher than we did; it was just too dangerous.
“Overall, I'd hoped for more points from the first round but there are a lot of positives to take away from it. We've shown we have a quick car and I feel really comfortable with the team I have around me. I can't wait for Silverstone.”
Raffaele Marciello took victory in races one and three in Italy, with Pascal Wehrlein also taking a win in his final weekend in F3 before he switches to the DTM with Mercedes.