Marcus Ericsson scored his second successive victory in the Cooper Tyres British F3 International Series by leading virtually from start to finish in the championship's first 'flyaway' round, at Hockenheim.
The Swede made a superb start from third on the grid, blasting his Raikkonen Robertson Racing Dallara-Mercedes past bogged-down poleman Renger van der Zande and championship leader Daniel Ricciardo to assume command into the first corner. Then, but for a brief mid-race blip, he led van der Zande all the way to the chequered flag, coming home just under two seconds clear of the Dutchman, with the rest of the field trailing.
"By the mid-point, I'd pulled a gap on Renger," Ericsson reported, "but then I made a silly, silly mistake into the hairpin and he overtook me, so I had to fight back at the next corner. I did it - thank goodness - because otherwise I would have been very disappointed."
Instead it was van der Zande who was left to rue an error, his poor start costing him a second British F3 win - and the Dutchman also winced at talks of Ericsson's aggressive repass for the lead.
"I am not very happy," van der Zande admitted, "I stalled it at the start and that made for quite a tricky race. I was able to follow Marcus and I think I was quicker, but I wore my tyres too much. One time, he was late on brakes at the hairpin and I got past, but then he put me on the grass so I couldn't stay in front. But second place is good and there is always tomorrow..."
van der Zande had blown away the opposition in qualifying on Friday, his Hitech Racing Dallara posting the best Hockenheim F3 lap time of the season, more than half a second inside the Euro Series F3 pole time from earlier in the year, and he duly claimed the fastest lap in the race to prove a point.
Race two polesitter Walter Grubmuller came through from seventh on the grid to claim third and make it a Mercedes-powered 1-2-3 on the marque's home ground, and give Hitech two drivers on the podium, but only after the first lap of the race had brought high drama - and the elimination of three cars, as Daisuke Nakajima, Riki Christodoulou and visiting F2 points leader Robert Wickens were all sidelined by a collision. Ericsson wasn't the only slow starter either, as the other Rockingham victor, Nick Tandy, bogged down off the line and got away last.
Tandy and Grubmuller were the men on a mission from the outset, the Briton bundling his way through the pack to eighth by the end, while his Austrian rival picked off three cars on the opening lap to move up to fifth. He then disposed of the Carlin cars of Max Chilton and Ricciardo to claim third.
"Max got a bad exit out of turn two," Grubmuller explained, "and that enabled me to get a good tow on him and pass him on the straight. It was pretty much the same story with Ricciardo."