The first race of the Formula Three Euro Series at the Hockenheimring was anything but normal as a track that was still partly wet after overnight rain wrote most of the script.

The outcome not only disturbed championship leader Ryan Briscoe, but allowed the spectators to see plenty of excitement. Only eventual winner Timo Glock appeared not to let things get to him, as he moved up from fifth to first place on the final lap.

The start of the race set the tone for the rest of the afternoon as tyre choice proved to be decisive. Part of the field opted to put on slick tyres, while others were still driving with wets. The latter appeared to be better option initially, despite the drying track, and Bruno Spengler moved up from seventh to first - past pole-sitter Markus Winkelhock, who had chosen slicks - with an impeccable start.

Equally quickly, Alexandros Margaritis made ground from 15th to third, taking with him Fabio Carbone, who jumped from 14th to fourth. The losers here were Richard Lietz and Olivier Pla, third in the championship, who dropped back to fifth and tenth place respectively.

As Lietz spun on the fourth lap, series novice Nicolas Amindo ran into his car and thus caused the safety car to be deployed. During this neutralisation, the field had the chance to close up on Spengler, who already had pulled clear by ten seconds. While the drivers with slicks hoped for the track to dry off during the safety car phase, the now sixth-placed Winkelhock had to park his car in the pits with technical problems.

After the re-start, the drivers with rain-tyres came to the fore again. Margaritis was setting fastest lap times, but points leader Ryan Briscoe and second in the championship Christian Klien, both with slicks, spun off the track. Unlike Briscoe's Polish team-mate Robert Kubica, however, the two managed to keep running. Kubica hit a tyre barrier three minutes before the end of the race and was stuck in the middle of the track. Fortunately, he remained unscathed - and the stewards opted to keep the action going.

At the time of the incident, Spengler was still leading the field from Margaritis and Briton Adam Carroll, but he had had to work hard to defend his position and his tyres were suffering. The trio was so involved in their battle that Glock could start his attack on the final lap almost unnoticed.

The lap was something to behold and, once past Carroll and Spengler - who dropped backwards with some rapidity, the German quickly caught Margaritis on the final corner and beat him in a sprint to the line.

"The final lap was quite easy for me as I had slicks and the other drivers in front of me were driving with rain tyres," Glock admitted, "The real problem is that I wasn't aware that is was the final lap. The safety car was also good for me, because I could close up to the front runners, but this victory really is magnificent."

"Of course, I never expected to be on the podium after starting from 15th place," Margaritis said with a smile, "I saw other drivers on the grid putting slick tyres on, and I asked my engineer whether we should change as well. He told me that it would be very difficult with slicks and it would be better to get some points. This podium really is incredible."

Nicolas Lapierre, who would eventually finish third, followed in his slipstream, towing along Fabio Carbone, who made it up from seventh to fourth in the final run to the flag.

"This was a very hard race," Lapierre explained, "I went off the track twice, once with Rosberg, and I really thought that the race would be over for me, but fortunately, the safety car was deployed. I started with slicks and I really attacked during the two last laps. I overtook Spengler on the final corner and, as I crossed the finish line, my team told me that I was third, although I thought that I was fifth or sixth. That was a nice surprise."

Spengler eventually came home in sixth place, while Briscoe failed to score any points, finishing 17th. He was still better off than Klien, however, as the Austrian was only 23rd.

"We decided to start with slick tyres," Briscoe revealed, "I thought that it would be an advantage but, at the final moment, the majority of the drivers changed tyres on the grid. Still, the track was wet and I had two spins. It is true that I had hoped to do better, but I finished the race without any damage to the car."

"I started with slicks and that had to be a good strategy," Klien agreed, "The track dried pretty quickly and I was faster and faster. Even the safety car intervention was an advantage for me. But, at the end of the race, I spun once and I collided with Katsuyuki Hiranaka and I had to retire."

 

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