It has been a day to remember for PREMA Theodore Racing at the Dutch seaside venue of Zandvoort. Actually, the results secured by the team in race 1 and 2 of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship event are even difficult to rationalize: they went beyond the brightest early expectations with a sensational double podium lockout.
Ralf Aron scored two memorable wins. The 20-year-old Estonian, starting from second place in both occasions, seized the lead twice in bold fashion at the first corner and never looked back. In race 1, pole sitter Guanyu Zhou finished second, not far away, while Mick Schumacher took third place, his second podium finish of the year. The German faced tough luck in race 2 though, when he was nudged in corner 1 while dicing for the lead and ended up in the gravel.
In the end, rookie Marcus Armstrong took P2 in front of fellow Ferrari Driver Academy man Zhou. Armstrong, who made it a 1-2-3-4 for Prema in race 1, put up a great display, including a fine overtaking maneuver for P3. He is still leading the driver championship, now with Aron in close pursuit.
Facing a difficult task, having to recover from outside the top five on the grid in a tough venue for overtaking, Russian Robert Shwartzman got an 8th and a 7th place, turning out as one of the biggest movers of the weekend so far.
# 1 - Guanyu Zhou
"Today has been a really positive day. In race 1, starting from the pole, it wasn't obviously ideal to finish P2 but Ralf did a great start and managed to get me. During the race, I was happy I had the speed to put pressure on him but, in the end, second was OK for the championship. In race 2 I did a good start from P6, I made up one position straight away. At the re-start, Marcus did a good move on Ticktum and I was able to seize the opportunity as well. I'm really happy to have finished third considering where I started. The team did a super job with the double podium lockout: there's nothing better than this, congrats to everybody!"
# 4 - Mick Schumacher
“Obviously I am happy about the podium in race 1, which is easy to sum up: I was third at the start and stayed there until the end of the race. I was having problems with the clutch towards the end of the race and I am happy to have made it to the finish anyway. Then race 2 ended up very quickly due to a contact. There was nothing I could do, it was just unfortunate. All I do now it to focus on tomorrow‘s race, starting from P18 it will be challenging.”
# 7 - Ralf Aron
"Great day for me and Prema overall and I'm happy that my strong suit, the start, is still my strong suit: pulling off two wins feels amazing because we have been working so hard for this and the car feels mega this weekend. This the best result we could give to the team and a great birthday present for our Technical Director Mattia Oselladore."
# 8 - Marcus Armstrong
"It was not a bad day at all. Since we had a new clutch, our starts were actually quite good and I'm pleased with how race 2 went. We did a good job and we even got the fastest lap in both races. The car is good too and we made the most out of the situation today considering where we were starting. We took the most amount of points possible, and that's positive because we will be starting from the back tomorrow."
# 10 - Robert Shwartzman
"In the first race, I didn't have the best possible start and lost one position. Then it was almost impossible to get the spot back so I finished 8th. In race 2 the start was much better, and that allowed me to pass three cars up to seventh place. Maybe it's not an incredible result, but we performed well and did some good overtaking."