Encouraging track debut for Niklas Krütten in Barcelona
Rain-affected races at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya are something of a rarity. However, the event last weekend came close to being a washout. Team Motopark driver and Formula 3 newcomer Niklas Krütten faced a double challenge: difficult weather conditions plus a track debut on the demanding Formula 1 circuit in Catalonia. In only his second Formula 3 appearance, the 16-year-old nonetheless held his own. Results over the weekend (P12 in Race 1 and P11 in Race 2) were a secondary consideration for Krütten, as his learning curve in the new series takes precedence.
Heavy rain affected Saturday’s proceedings. The stewards decided to cancel the first qualifying session and instead to apply Article 31.1 of the regulations which specify that the order of the starting grid is determined by the fastest lap times set in the two free practice sessions. Krütten thus started the first race from the fifth row. The 30-minute race was characterised by difficult conditions – huge amounts of water on the track and minimal visibility. The Team Motopark driver was consequently trapped in a wall of spray for most of the race.
Qualifying for the second race took place under more manageable conditions. Krütten gave evidence of his learning progress by booking P10, less than three tenths of a second behind his fastest team-mate. The start to the second race was, however, less than optimal – he lost three positions but was later able to gain two during the course of the race. He eventually finished eleventh, tantalisingly outside the points. The positive outcome was that, on only his second race weekend in the Euroformula Open, the 16-year-old came close to matching the lap times of his much more experienced team-mates.
In just under three weeks (12th/13th October), Krütten will be at Monza for the grand finale of the 2019 Euroformula Open.
Three questions for Niklas Krütten
Niklas, how was your first competitive weekend in Barcelona?
The weekend wasn’t at all bad. I was able to close the gap on my team-mates and made significant progress in terms of pace. I am much closer now than I was at Silverstone. That is a very positive outcome. But there is still a lot to learn, because I haven’t quite got used to driving the car yet. However, we are making discernible progress. What’s more, these were two tracks I’ve never competed on before.
Not only a new track but also extremely difficult conditions, so how did you cope with that?
I acclimatised myself to the circuit pretty quickly and was getting better from session to session. The first quali was cancelled due to heavy rain which carried on falling for the whole of the first race. I was stuck behind an opponent because visibility in the spray was virtually zero. The second qualifying session went fine relative to my team-mates. Unfortunately, my start to the race was not perfect, so I lost some ground at the beginning. The air turbulence with these cars makes it very difficult to chase an opponent and identify a suitable overtaking opportunity. But the pace in qualifying and in the race was satisfactory. I was able to match my team-mates and the championship leaders for race pace.
It’s not long now to the final weekend of the season. Can you imagine a cooler track than Monza to round off the campaign?
Monza is definitely one of my favourites. The atmosphere is great and the configuration unique. There are only a few tracks on the racing calendar where we can still reach really high speeds. This one calls for strong nerves in certain sections because, with its old layout, you can quickly end up in the gravel. I’m really looking forward to Monza and cannot wait to get going.