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Swiss star Fabio Scherer served notice of his intention to fight for victories in this year’s FIA F3 European Championship by racing to P4 in the season-opening Pau Grand Prix this weekend.

The 18-year-old, racing in FIA F3 for the first time, marked himself as a man to watch with a stirring performance on his debut around the narrow, demanding circuit in south-west France.

Fabio put on a brilliant display of wet-weather car control during qualifying on Saturday to earn P4 on the grid for the prestigious race.

Further rain on race day made track conditions challenging. When the lights turned green, Stobag-supported Fabio was slightly delayed as he had to swerve his Team Motopark entry around a rival’s stalled car, but maintained his fourth position in the early part of the race.

He was reducing the deficit to drivers in front when the race was stopped early due the worsening weather. The results were declared, securing Fabio a top-four finish in his first FIA F3 European Championship race meeting. The result also earned Fabio a P2 finish in the Rookie Championship – and a place on the Pau podium.

“The start wasn’t great because I had to go off-line to avoid the car in front of me on the grid and lost traction,” he said.

“After that I drove quite consistently because my priority was to score some points. Perhaps a higher position would have been possible, but I finished fourth and was second in the classification for rookie drivers.”

The result capped a promising performance over the entire race weekend. In Sunday morning’s race, he looked set for a podium finish until he made contact with the barrier at the Foch Chicane and was forced to retire.

“I made an excellent start and moved up from P4 to P2 and was attacking for the lead,” Fabio explained, “But then I had some issues. I got hit from the rear and then I hit the car in front at Turn Four. After that contact, my car’s front-left suspension was bent. Then two laps later I overdid it at Turn Seven and crashed. It was a real shame.”

Earlier in the weekend, Fabio had finished P11 in race one, concentrating on building up vital experience of his new Volkswagen-powered Dallara F317.

“In the first race I did not make the best of starts and lost one position, but after that I drove quite well,” he reflected. “Then, as the race was about to resume after a full-course yellow, I had an issue with the speed limiter button and lost some positions. The remainder of the race was quite crazy; I overtook a few cars and that was the best part of the race for me.”

Fabio felt there were plenty of positives to take away: “In one way I’m a little bit disappointed because I could have come away from this weekend with many more points in my pocket, but for my first FIA F3 race weekend it was okay.

“I think the speed is already there. I just need to drive cleanly and not make any mistakes. Looking to the next event in Budapest, my confidence is quite high that I can score some good points finishes there.”

The next FIA F3 European Championship event takes place at the Hungaroring on 2-3 June. Fabio has prior knowledge of that circuit, which was the location of one of the FIA F3 European Championship’s official pre-season tests in March.

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