Fabio Scherer’s determination to end his FIA Formula 3 Championship campaign on a high was scuppered by cruel luck in both races at Sochi Autodrom…/Read
A thrilling drive from the back of the grid to a points-scoring P7 finish was the highlight of the latest episode in Fabio Scherer’s FIA European F3 Championship adventure at the Spielberg circuit in Austria this weekend.
Fabio’s weekend started brightly enough with P4 in free practice. He set a best lap around the 4.318km circuit that was just 0.056sec off the ultimate pace. In qualifying for race one, however, the 19-year-old’s session was disrupted by a technical issue on his Volkswagen-powered Dallara.
“I was quite optimistic for the qualifying session but then an issue developed on the car,” Fabio explained. “It cost me two laps and that proved to be extremely important because it meant I had to push harder on cold tyres to try to set a competitive lap time. P9 was acceptable in the circumstances, but better was definitely possible.”
The opening race of the weekend got underway in wet and cold conditions on Saturday. Relishing the challenge, Fabio made a strong start and moved up to P7 at Turn One, although he dropped to P8 after losing momentum when his right-rear wheel was clipped by a rival at Turn Three.
Then came an order from the race stewards for Fabio to relinquish two positions during the race as a punishment for exceeding track limits.
“It was a confusing and frustrating decision. I don’t really know what the stewards were looking at, but the result is that I had to drop to P10,” Fabio said. Upset by the penalty, he fought back to claim P9 at the finish.
He hoped to make amends in second qualifying, which was held in dry conditions and set the grid positions for the second and third races.
“We changed the set-up but when I tried to set a lap on brand-new tyres, it was difficult to find the same good balance,” the Motopark driver said. “I wasn’t happy with my P12 and P15 grid places for my second and third races of the weekend.”
To add insult to injury, the race stewards handed Fabio a ten-place grid penalty for an incident at the end of race one.
It forced him to start race two from P22, the penultimate position on the grid. But the scene was set for an impressive fightback. From last position going into the first corner, Fabio exhibited his never-say-die determination by storming to P7 in an action-packed race.
“It was a good recovery. Hats off to the team, because the car was really good, my pace was strong and I could overtake quite well,” he said.
Fabio rounded out his weekend with P12 in race three, which was held under glorious blue skies and high temperatures that resulted in increased tyre wear, forcing drivers to conserve their rubber rather than go on the attack.
Reflecting on the weekend, Fabio said: “It was an improvement from last time out at Nürburgring, but I’m still not where I expect to be in terms of fighting for strong points finishes and podiums. I know I can be further up, and will work hard to ensure I end the season on a high note.”
The final event of Fabio’s rookie FIA European F3 Championship season takes place at Hockenheim, Germany, on 13/14 October.