Brendon Hartley was penalised by race officials for the second time in two days during last night’s ‘reverse top eight’ race of the European Formula 3 Championship round at Oschersleben in Germany
However, this time the Kiwi was simultaneously punished with 21 of the 23 drivers still running at the confused ending of the 29 lap Sunday race. Timing screens were suddenly transformed as all but two cars were penalised for setting personal best times through the first sector of the track while yellow flags were out.
This extraordinary situation in the close stages gifted Christian Vietoris a surprise victory in the second F3 Euro Series race of the Oschersleben weekend. All six drivers ahead of him at the chequered flag had 30 seconds suddenly added to their race times.
Vietoris, running only seventh on the road at the finish, was classified the winner after everyone -except one tail ender - was penalised.
The drivers who were given a time penalty included all of those ahead of Vietoris - Stefano Coletti (who took a dominant win on the road), Mika Maki, Roberto Merhi, Jules Bianchi and Jean Karl Vernay.
The time penalties were added in the closing stages of the race, and in the confusion Coletti still celebrated as he took the chequered flag.
The Prema driver opted not to spray the champagne on the podium and walked off immediately after receiving his runner-up trophy. Signature's Maki, who was second on the road, stayed on the podium but did not spray his champagne.
Hartley started last night’s race from 20th on the grid, having struggled to find pace in Friday qualifying. He was running 16th on the road before the penalties were imposed, but with all but two cars hit with a time penalty, he lost only one place in the results.
In Saturday’s race Hartley was given a drive through penalty for jumping the start.
On the first lap of the 22-lap Hartley gained three places and the Kiwi teen had improved to 14th on lap four when he was penalised, along with two others, for beating the lights.
After trundling through the pit lane, Hartley rejoined at the back of the field and finished a lap down in 21st place. His fastest lap was 1.6 seconds slower than race winner Jules Bianchi.
Hartley’s pace improved in the Sunday race and his fastest lap was within 0.6 sec of Vietoris who claimed fastest overall lap as well as the inherited win.
Coletti had commanded the Sunday race after snatching the lead from Maki at the start. The Finn initially blocked his attack on the inside of Turn 1, so Coletti switched to the outside, and made the move stick by having the inside line for Turn 2.
After that Coletti cruised away, while Maki spent the entire race keeping a fast-starting Alexander Sims at bay.
Sims came under pressure occasionally from Manor's Roberto Merhi, but the Spaniard eventually had to shift his attention to his mirrors, where championship leader Bianchi was mounting an attack.
The race one winner had gained a place at the expense of team-mate Valtteri Bottas at the start, before passing Vernay for sixth around the outside of Turn 1. He then pulled off a stunning move on Vietoris, catching the German unawares through the fast penultimate corner.
Vietoris went off and also fell behind Vernay, but in the end that did not matter as the penalties for those around him handed him a third victory of the season.
Euro F3 Championship – Oschersleben Race 2
Pos Driver Team Car Time/Gap
1. Christian Vietoris Mucke D/M 40m33.472s
2. Stefano Coletti Prema D/M + 17.570s*
3. Mika Maki Signature D/V + 26.018s*
4. Alexander Sims Mucke D/M + 26.687s*
5. Roberto Merhi Manor D/M + 27.412s*
6. Jules Bianchi ART D/M + 28.545s*
7. Jean Karl Vernay Signature D/V + 29.022s*
8. Valtteri Bottas ART D/M + 31.033s*
9. Esteban Gutierrez ART D/M + 31.549s*
10. Henkie Waldschmidt SG D/M + 39.697s*
11. Jake Rosenzweig Carlin D/V + 41.917s*
12. Basil Shaaban Prema D/M + 44.715s*
13. Sam Bird Mucke D/M + 48.301s*
14. Renger van der Zande Motopark D/M + 48.355s
15. Tiago Geronimi Signature D/V + 48.969s*
16. Cesar Ramos Manor D/M + 50.236s*
17. Brendon Hartley Carlin D/V + 52.520s*
18. Nick Tandy Kolles D/V + 59.022s*
19. Marco Wittmann Mucke D/M +1m01.731s*
20. Johnny Cecotto HBR D/M +1m11.953s*
21. Pedro Enrique Manor D/M +1m12.584s*
22. Tom Dillmann HBR D/M + 1 lap*
23. Andrea Caldarelli SG D/M + 4 laps*