Harry Tincknell takes three strong points finishes

Harry Tincknell and Steve Crabbe at Sidmouth

Harry Tincknell and Steve Crabbe at Sidmouth - Credit: Archant

Harry Tincknell had a strong weekend in the latest round of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship at the Norisring to come away with three points-scoring performances, and finish each race as the top driver from the ultra-strong five-car Carlin team’s line-up.

It means that Tincknell consolidates his fifth place in the championship. It was a weekend that also saw him as the top Volkswagen-powered driver in each race at an event where the rival engine from Mercedes dominated on the Nuremberg streets.

The 21-year-old was second fastest in free practice to kick off the event, but the form of the Carlin squad faded in qualifying. Nevertheless, Tincknell flew the team’s colours to line up eighth, sixth and seventh for the three races.

He said: “The track looked like it had rubbered in for qualifying, but we felt as though we had less grip than in free practice. I did the best I could but we were struggling a bit, and the team said they got the set-up wrong. In practice I felt as though I was under control on the limit, but that wasn’t the case in qualifying. Still, three top-eights is the best of a bad job.”

In a dramatic opening race, Tincknell ran ninth in the early stages, but lost out in a mid-race battle with Jordan King and Nick Cassidy to drop to 11th. However, after the race seven drivers were penalised for going too quickly under yellow-flag conditions. That promoted the Sidmouth speedster to a well-merited sixth place, reward for staying within the rules.

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“My start was disappointing. I had a battle with Tom Blomqvist – we got side by side a couple of times – but after a safety-car restart I got passed by Nick, and as I tried to repass him I ran wide and got passed by Jordan.

“The drivers were all warned in the briefing about the yellow flags, and I did stay within the limits. I won’t say the others were silly, because I was pushing as well, but I was thinking that on a street track they would come down hard on people for offences like that.”

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Tincknell got up to fifth at the start of race two before losing two places, and then another fight with Blomqvist saw him dropping to eighth on the ninth lap.

“We’ve had a couple of bad starts so we went back to our previous starting system [this is done via a handbrake that allows the car to be held at an angle to allow the best possible launch at the getaway]. This time it was a good one, but for the first 10 or 15 laps I had no pace at all and I was a sitting duck to guys behind.

“I tried my hardest to defend, and then as the race went on it got better and better. The car was good at the end and I set my fastest lap on lap 41 of 42! But it shows we haven’t yet found the sweet spot with set-up, although I’m driving as hard as I can.”

In the third race he lost a place to Pipo Derani on the opening lap to fall to ninth, but passed the Brazilian in a nice move on lap six. He then attacked team-mate Daniil Kvyat – although Tincknell made up the place, both cars ran wide and were repassed by Derani. He pushed hard, but had to be satisfied with eighth place.

“I had a good start but got caught up with Alexander Sims at the first corner,” said Tincknell, who is a member of the BRDC Rising Stars initiative. “I got a nice move on Derani at the last corner – I knew there were yellow flags out at Turn 1 so I knew he wouldn’t be able to slipstream back past me.

“Danny hit the wall trying to stay in front of me and then we locked wheels going into Turn 1 and both ran wide, and that allowed Derani back ahead. The race was a little bit better, but I still feel that in the fourth and fifth-gear power range we seem to be lacking a bit compared with the Mercedes engines. It’s been a testing weekend but I’ve done the best I can.”

Tincknell, one of only five drivers to finish in the points in all three races at the Norisring, is looking ahead to the next round, which takes place after a five-week summer break on the German Grand Prix circuit of Nurburgring.

It is a track where he scored a confidence-boosting podium in his rookie season of British Formula 3 in 2011 and the type of track where the Carlin cars always run very strongly, so he is confident of a very good showing.

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