Niklas Krütten wins 2020 Euroformula rookie title
Last weekend, Niklas Krütten was competing in the grand finale of the Euroformula Open at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. The Formula 3 newcomer secured the Rookie of the Year title by a winning margin of 28 points over the runner-up and with no fewer than nine victories in the classification, and he did so with two races to spare. Krütten finished fifth in the general classification after making five podium appearances in the 2020 campaign.
Because the concluding fixture of the season at Jarama had to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Barcelona weekend was expanded to four races instead of two. The first two of these were held on Saturday and the other two on Sunday. Each race was limited to 35 minutes. The starting positions were determined in four qualifying sessions: two sessions were held on Friday, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. There were also three free practice sessions spread over Thursday and Friday. Consequently, the 15 juniors spent more time on the track than ever before during a race weekend.
The Motopark driver finished the first two practice sessions eighth overall and as second-best rookie. In FP3, he halved the deficit to the top, this time finishing the session seventh overall and as second-best rookie. In both the first and second qualifying sessions, Krütten was the fastest rookie, booking P4 and P6 on the grid. In Q3 and Q4, he was eighth and second-best rookie each time.
Krütten moved up from fourth on the grid to third at the start of the first race. He defended this position through to the finish to celebrate his fifth podium of the season. At the award ceremony, the ADAC Sports Foundation protégé received a second trophy for his ninth victory in the rookie classification.
Krütten started the second race from sixth position. On the first few corners, he dropped back to seventh place. Over the last few laps, he put the sixth-placed driver under pressure but was unable to find a way past. So as second-best rookie, he had to settle for seventh place. Krütten started the third race in eighth place. Despite a two-second time penalty for forcing out an opponent, he still finished eighth and was again second-best rookie.
At the start of the last race of the season, Krütten worked his way up from eighth place on the grid to seventh. A few laps before the end of the race, he strayed off track in the first chicane and dropped back to eighth place. The race stewards then imposed a two-second time penalty for disregarding track limits, which meant that he finished ninth and as third-best rookie.
Three questions for Niklas Krütten
What did you think of the format of the final weekend, with its four qualifying sessions and four races?
It was quite intensive. The additional physical strain from four races, four qualifying sessions and six free practice sessions in just a few days became particularly noticeable in the neck and surrounding area towards the end. With temperatures of around 22 degrees Celsius, it was comparatively warm and we found we were struggling with rapid tyre degradation. The teams had little time to prepare the cars between the sessions. But the organisers, teams and drivers were all working at an extremely high level, and we got on top of everything.
What was your highlight of the weekend?
The highlights were clearly my fifth overall podium finish in the first race and winning the rookie championship with two races to go. After that, I did my best to exploit my mathematical chances of improving in the general classification, and in doing that, I think I probably pushed a bit too hard. With the aerodynamics of the cars, overtaking in Barcelona is only possible at the start and on the first lap.
How would you sum up your rookie season in the Euroformula Open?
I achieved my objective for my first Formula 3 season by winning the rookie championship and finishing in the Top Five of the general classification. Despite the fact that I was driving a new and technically demanding car, I managed to hold my own in a strong field of drivers who sometimes had several years of Formula 3 experience, and I even managed to win on several occasions. The team offered me optimal conditions to develop my driving and technical skills.