Barnicoat stutters in Norisring heat

Ben Barnicoat will start the opening race of this weekend’s fifth round of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship from 16th place following a stuttering qualifying session in the heat of the Norisring in Germany.

The Racing Steps Foundation-backed driver, having begun the session with the quickest early time, then struggled to maintain his momentum and dropped down the standings as a result.

In soaring temperatures on the street circuit in the heart of Nuremberg, the Hitech GP racer set the 11th quickest time in the opening free practice session, but went backwards from that point into the later second practice and first qualifying session.

Canadian Lance Stroll scored pole position for race one, the Prema driver setting a best time of 48.148s. That time was 0.608s quicker than Barnicoat's best. Motopark's Joel Eriksson will jin him on the front row after provisional second placed driver Callum Ilott was handed a 10-place grid penalty for changing his engine during free practice. Barnicoat's team-mate George Russell will start from sixth place on the grid.

“The car isn’t perfect, but it’s not a car that should be down in 16th place,” Barnicoat said. “I’m quite a bit down in the speed traps compared to the other drivers. We have George [Russell’s] data so we will go through that to see if there are obvious differences.

“Sector one is my main problem. There are straights on sectors two and three, and I didn’t gain a slipstream down those whereas others did.

“We were struggling with the car’s balance in free practice. It felt better in qualifying, particularly in the corners, but there’s work to do.”

Barnicoat will return to the track for the second qualifying session later this afternoon, which will set the grid for the second and third races of the weekend.