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  • Hitech GP driver Nikita Mazepin has to settle for best of 14th place in Germany
  • Difficult qualifying session and processional races hinder Russian’s potential
  • Russian racer makes heads turn with third fastest lap of race in Rd23
  • Mazepin focusing on next FIA F3 challenge at Imola three weeks from now

Hitech GP driver Nikita Mazepin encountered one of his most challenging outings of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship season at the Nurburgring over the weekend, 10th/11th September, with a pair of tough qualifying sessions leading to three frustrating races.

The 17-year-old, from Moscow in Russia, ended the eighth event of his maiden campaign in F3 racing with a best result of 14th place from round 23 on Saturday afternoon, where he also finished eighth in the Rookie class.

Importantly, though, he confirmed the excellent upturn in pace he has been showing in recent events by posting the third fastest lap of the race in the second contest – only 0.3 seconds shy of the fastest lap of all.

“After being ill before Zandvoort (the Masters of F3], I came to this weekend unprepared as I was on the limit with recovering in time”, explained Mazepin, “Overall, I would say we had some positives, especially being third fastest in race two, that was great. We move on to Imola now hoping for something better.”

In qualifying for the opening race of the weekend at the German track, Mazepin secured 14th on the grid but was edged back a couple of spots on the first lap – also meaning he slipped to ninth in the Rookie class.

With any overtaking proving to be at any absolute premium, particularly as the race wore on and the gaps between cars plateaued, the Sahara Force India F1 Team Development Driver ended the race in 16th position overall.

Hoping for more from the second of Saturday’s two contests, the Hitech GP driver lined-up 16th on the grid and was right in the thick of the action on the first lap, until it all went wrong at the chicane at the end of the first tour.

Following a tangle in the pack between team-mate Ben Barnicoat and another driver, Mazepin’s Dallara-Mercedes was unfortunately caught-up in the aftermath which resulted in an enforced spin for the Russian.

Luckily able to continue, he recovered in 13th position, seventh in the Rookie class, and after a Safety Car period between laps two and six he went on to finish the race a weekend best 14th place overall and eighth in class.

Facing another tough challenge from 17th on the grid, ninth in class, in round 24 on Sunday morning Mazepin managed to move up into 16th position overall on lap two and then spent the entirety of a fairly processional race in the same spot all the way to the chequered flag on lap 26.

Next on the FIA F3 European Championship calendar is a visit to Imola in Italy, the penultimate event of the season, over the weekend 1st/2nd October.

2016 FIA Formula 3 European Championship Driver Standings (after Rd24):

19th Nikita Mazepin, 5pts

2016 FIA Formula 3 European Championship Team Standings (after Rd24):

2nd Hitech GP, 444pts

2016 FIA Formula 3 European Championship Rookie Standings (after Rd24):

9th Nikita Mazepin, 132pts