The hoped-for liberation in the FIA Formula 3 unfortunately failed to materialise for Lirim Zendeli from Bochum last weekend (7 – 8 September) in Monza. But with 5th place in qualifying, the Sauber Junior driver delivered more than a strong performance. “I was already in fifth place in qualifying and was once again on a fast lap. However, an aborted qualifying session prevented me from finishing my pole lap,” Lirim Zendeli reported confidently.
However, the weekend started anything but rosy. 29th place in the first free practice session – second to last. What had happened? “I got new brake discs and brake pads. That is not unusual. We change them quite often. It was raining in the first free practice. Not a good opportunity to put in brakes and achieve fast lap times,” said the youngtimer with a wink.
In his first race, the driver from Bochum underlined his ambitions more than clearly. After only one lap, he was already leading the field of drivers. However, his first lead in the FIA Formula 3 was not to last longer than three laps. “Due to some penalties, I was able to start from second place. I really gave everything. I fought like a lion, but if a competitor slashes your tyre while trying to overtake, race retirement is relatively certain,” explained the motorsport talent.
So it was clear from the start that the second race was also over for the Sauber Junior driver by Charouz. Lirim Zendeli: “Starting the race from 29th place means first and foremost that you have to get past all the competitors without any damage. Highly risky, especially as visibility is very limited in the rain.” The fact that the number 7 Formula 3 car started the race with a rain setup created further challenges as the tarmac dried. “I could forget about passing quickly and fast lap times. No attacking – damage limitation was my task. Nevertheless, I am satisfied with the whole weekend and 18th place in the second race. We showed a strong performance and are now looking forward to Sochi. There we have to master the next unknown variable”.
In a fortnight the time has come. From 27.09. to 29.09. it’s off to Sochi in Russia. The last race of the season is on the agenda for the young motor sportsman and his Sauber Junior Team by Charouz. His first season in FIA Formula 3 is now a thing of the past and firmly established in his CV. How does it feel for the 19-year-old? “This has been an incredible season for me. I learned so much again and was able to improve my performance from race to race. But like everything in life, this season came to an end very quickly,” the Bochum native sums up.