Niklas Krütten gets a little closer to his goal for this season at Mugello
The fifth of eight championship weekends in the Euroformula Open championship took place last weekend at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello. Niklas Krütten is contesting his first full season in the Junior series for Formula 3 vehicles with Team Motopark. Formula 1 held a grand prix at the Autodromo for the first time just recently. The 5.24-km track is a real driver’s circuit with its fast turns and demands excellent control over vehicles. Krütten faced an additional challenge, because the weather was so changeable. After sunny practice sessions on Friday, the conditions on the track constantly changed between wet and dry for the qualis and the races.
Still, the rain didn’t bother the young German driver. After coming sixth and fourth in the two practice sessions, he finished third in qualifying for Saturday afternoon’s race just 0.2 seconds adrift of pole position. The tenth round of the season started behind the safety car because of the heavy rain, giving drivers a chance to become accustomed to the conditions while travelling at moderate speeds.
Once the race was cleared to start, 17-year-old Krütten was able to defend P3 in the difficult track conditions, but the driver in fourth place kept him under pressure for many laps. The ADAC Sports Foundation protégé produced an almost impeccable performance but in the final stages of the race he went off the track because of aquaplaning and therefore lost a position. The race did not last for the number of laps originally scheduled but ended after the maximum race length of 35 minutes, because laps were taking longer in the rain. As a result, Krütten had no time to launch another attack on the podium. Still, fourth place was enough for him to win the Rookie classification again.
The rain continued on Sunday morning. Krütten qualified in seventh place and quickly fought his way forward in the race with a strong performance. He finished the first lap in fourth place on the drying track. Krütten showed his gift for strategy once more when it started to rain again later. He was among the drivers who decided not to head for the pit lane to change tyres but stayed out on slicks, and so, was still in fourth place as he crossed the line for Team Motopark and triumphed once again in the Rookie classification. Consequently, he was able to continue his series of successes – he has remained unbeaten in the classification for new drivers for six races now.
Krütten came a little closer to attaining his goals for the season thanks to his results during the Mugello weekend – he is aiming to finish among the Top Three overall in the championship standings. He reduced the deficit on third place to five points and increased his lead in the Rookie classification. He is now 24 points ahead of the driver in second place.
The next Euroformula Open Championship weekend will take place from October 16th to 18th at the famous Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium). Since there are no races in the championship taking place in Germany this year, the event on the roller-coaster in the Ardennes can be regarded to all intents and purposes as a home fixture for Krütten, as his home town of Trier is only some 100 kilometres away from the track.
Three questions for Niklas Krütten
Did you find coping with the changeable conditions really difficult?
It wasn’t all that hard, really. I felt comfortable in the wet and coped well with the track. I made an excellent start to Sunday’s race in the variable conditions and immediately moved up into fourth place.
You narrowly missed the podium in both races but got closer to your goal in terms of the overall standings. Were you pleased with your weekend?
Overall, I feel positive about the weekend. I increased my lead in the Rookie championship and took points out of the driver in P3 overall in the standings. Despite the narrowly missed podiums I managed to secure plenty of valuable points.
How do you expect to do during the weekend at Spa-Francorchamps?
I would like to build on my good showing from previous race weekends and be a contender up front again. If I can manage to be near the top of the field once more, then I might even find myself in P3 in the championship after the weekend.