Brendon Hartley finished fifth at the Masters of Formula 3 race after a frantic last-minute dash at the Zolder circuit in Belgium on the weekend.
The New Zealander had been on the pace throughout testing and practice, but will start tonight's 28-lap race from ninth place on the 37-car grid.
Hartley’s Red Bull car emerged in seventh place in a messy first corner sort-out. He passed Stefano Coletti on the first lap and then spent half the race tucked in behind the Spaniard Daniel Campos-Hull.
“It was an ok race. I had good pace in the early wet running but was stuck behind Campos-Hull. By the time I passed him, the others were too far ahead,” said Hartley.
Hartley's Red Bull Dallara Mercedes is up against the best of Formula 3 competition in the annual showdown between the British and European championship drivers.
"I was holding second fastest time when the session was red flagged. It restarted with just five minutes to run and I got stuck in traffic for those couple of laps," explained Hartley.
"We didn't have the outright pace for pole but I should have been in the top four – it just didn't happen - but it could be wet for the race and we were quick in the wet practice," he said.
Last season he qualified sixth and finished fourth in his F3 debut at the one-off Zolder race that is run on the Kumho tyres used in the Euro F3 series .The British Championship, in which Hartley finished second and first in last weekend's Spa races in Belgium, is run on Avon tyres.
Zolder Masters of Formula 3 – Result (28 laps)
1. Jules Bianchi 45:19.275
2. Nico Hulkenberg +4.495
3. Jon Lancaster +20.539
4. Mika Maki +27.030
5. Brendon Hartley +34.170