Nico Hülkenberg has received a welcome boost as he heads to Brands Hatch for this weekend's UK round of the F3 Euroseries, having been installed as the new points leader after a successful appeal by his ART Grand Prix team.
The French outfit maintained that Hulkenberg should not have been penalised for apparently failing to meet the minimum weight regulations at Zandvoort earlier in the season and, having had the appeal court judges agree yesterday [Thursday], have seen their man vault above Edoardo Mortara and into the championship lead as the season heads into its crucial final phase.
The ten points he now gains for winning at the Dutch circuit lift Hülkenberg nine points clear of Mortara as he returns to the scene of his impressive drives in the A1 Grand Prix series, but his rival is determined to overcome the setback to his own championship ambitions.
“The F3 Euroseries is so competitive, and everybody is at such a high level, that it would definitely be a mistake to be too confident but, having said that, we showed that we are able to lead the championship at the start of the year and I have every confidence in the new evolutions brought to us by Volkswagen and also by Signature," he said.
"Now it is up to me to make the best of them and, obviously, the driver is a much more subjective variable than his machinery. I'm feeling very positive, so I'm confident that we can have a strong end to the season. Exactly what that will translate into in terms of results and classifications, I don't yet know, but there's still a long way to go.”
Like Hulkenberg, Mortara has developed a liking for Brands Hatch, having broken his Euroseries duck there last season.
“I'm very pleased that we are going back there as it is one of my favourite circuits," he commented, "It's a really demanding track, where the driver can have a big input, a track where you can be quite creative, which is something I always enjoy. Every race is different though, and my aim for Brands Hatch this year is to have a strong weekend right from the start and challenge for another win.”
A thorn in both contenders' side, however, may be home favourite Jon Lancaster, Hulkenberg's ART team-mate and currently the best-placed Briton in the Euroseries. With twelve rounds gone, the FRenault graduate holds eighth position in the championship and, five weeks ago, celebrated his maiden F3 win at the Nurburgring.
“Back in 2006, I contested one of my first car races at the Indy Circuit at Brands Hatch, so I too have special memories of this track," Lancaster admitted, "Unfortunately, overtaking is virtually impossible there, so a good qualifying performance is particularly important.
"My goal is to secure pole position in qualifying and win the Saturday race. Last year, in the Formula Renault Eurocup, I clinched my maiden pole in the British event at Donington, so I hope this will prove to be a good omen.”