Niklas Krütten still Best Rookie in Euroformula Open Championship after first encounter with Spa-Francorchamps
The Euroformula Open Championship held its sixth race meeting of the year last weekend. Niklas Krütten lined up for Team Motopark at the demanding Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Drivers contesting this Formula 3 junior championship were faced with the additional challenge of an extra round in Belgium, as this was one of two weekends, featuring three and not the usual two races this year.
What is more, Krütten was racing at the Ardennes circuit for the first time after just one day of testing in the wet. He used Friday practice to prepare for the tough conditions at the Formula 1 circuit. With temperatures in single figures, getting tyres up to temperature was going to be paramount. After taking eighth place in FP1, the young German driver secured P4 in second practice and practically halved his deficit on the fastest drivers.
At the start of Race 1 held on Saturday, 18-year-old Krütten was the best-placed Rookie on the grid in third place. He maintained the connection with the leaders during the race and did not let pressure from the pack chasing him interfere with his concentration. Up until the last corner, it looked as if Krütten was going to achieve a podium result for the fifth time this season and clinch his eighth win in the Rookie classification. However, a member of the group hunting him down made a move to overtake through the final sequence of turns. The manoeuvre went wrong, though, and cost a blameless Krütten a decent result. He subsequently crossed the finish line in twelfth place.
The ADAC Sports Foundation protégé dealt with Saturday’s disappointment by delivering two error-free drives in the races on Sunday. He started the first of the two points-scoring rounds from eleventh position and secured P6 with a determined display of driving. He finished the final race even further up the field, coming home in fifth after starting out from P8. He also took a win in the Rookie stakes for the eighth time this season.
Ahead of the season finale which will take place at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya from October 29th to November 1st, Krütten is still fourth in the overall standings with four races left to run. He is just nine points down on the driver in third place with four rounds remaining. Krütten is still in the lead in the Rookie classification and is 24 points up on the driver behind him in second place.
Three questions for Niklas Krütten
How great was your disappointment in Race 1 at losing a well deserved P3?
I was tremendously disappointed after missing out on a third-place finish in the last turn. It just went wrong. The driver who ran into me has made several similar mistakes already this season but hit me this time, unfortunately. There was nothing I could do.
Was it hard to motivate yourself for Sunday’s races after the setback?
No not at all. I simply drew a line under the incident and went back out racing again on Sunday with my mind wiped clean. It was no big deal, really, and I was able to motivate myself and concentrate on Sunday without any problem.
How are you going to prepare for the races that remain?
I intend to run through my pre-race programme both with the team and in England and will prepare as best I can for Barcelona so that I can have a good crack at securing third place in the championship.