Nurburgring, 19 th Augustus - Indonesia’s Sean Gelael achieved his best result to date in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship event at the Nurburgring, in what was the best performance of his rookie 2013 season.

Gelael, who at 16 years old is the youngest driver and by far the least experienced of the 26-car field, took an excellent 13th position in his Double R Racing Dallara-Mercedes. What is more, he ran in 11th– just one place outside the points-scoring positions – for much of the race.

The result came after two weekends in British Formula 3, during which he had added to his tally of top-three podium positions. These showed the value of time and experience in the car as he was able to fight at his highest level yet in the European championship.

As usual, the Nurburgring was a circuit that Sean had never seen before, whereas many of his rivals had already raced there on numerous occasions. It was also the first time at the circuit with the current F3 car for the Double R team, so the weekend was a constant learning experience for everybody.

Sean put those lessons into practice by winning a fight with Australian Spike Goddard for 21st place in the opening race. Then, in race two, he narrowly avoided an accident ahead to improve to 18th position.

“We were making steady improvements all the time,” said Gelael. “The team did not know the perfect set-up to the car for the Nurburgring, which made it difficult to give feedback after practice and qualifying. But in the end we were gradually getting the car right up until the final race.

“It was a good race in the second race. I made a lunge on Dennis van de Laar and it worked, and just on the exit of the corner Lucas Wolf and Roy Nissany tangled in front of me and I thought, ‘Oh no!’, but I just managed to avoid them.”

In the final race, Sean positioned his car perfectly through the drama and accidents on the opening lap and miraculously made up 12 positions to run in 11th place, right behind his Double R team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi.

Gelael used his opportunity of running on a clear track among quick drivers to set very strong lap times as he kept up with the points-scoring challengers. However, recovery drives from two of his rivals – Welshman Jann Mardenborough and Puerto Rican Felix Serralles – meant that Sean, who had already used his allocation of new tyres before the final race, did not have the grip to hold them off.

Even so, he shrugged off the disappointment and consolidated his driving once again so that there was no challenge from any of the other drivers behind.

“I managed to make a really, really good start,” said Gelael. “I went straight down the middle at Turn 1 and although there were lots of cars colliding around me I got through and it was pretty good. I fought hard and got up to 11th place, and I was pleased to be able to hold my own in some good company and finish with a strong result.”

After a relentless sequence of races, Sean now heads home to Indonesia before returning to Europe for a test at Hockenheim in early September. This will give him extra experience before he returns to the Nurburgring for the fourth and final round of the British Formula 3 International Series on 20th-22nd September, where he will bid to improve on his sixth position in the points table. (ms/arl)

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