Red Bull Junior António Félix da Costa slid out of GP3 Race 1 at Hockenheim after nine laps of a rain drenched race that was won by Patric Niederhauser (SWI – Jenzer Motorsport).
After dry qualifying Félix da Costa sat in his Carlin car, 4th on the grid behind Abt, Evans and Daly and watched the rain began to fall. There were some strategic calls for switching to wets. Poleman and local favourite Daniel Abt (GER – Lotus GP) decided to start on slicks as did Series leader Mitch Evans (NZL – MW Arden) and Félix da Costa. As the formation lap began, monsoon style rain engulfed the circuit and the race was started behind the safety car.
The drivers who had started on slicks had no choice but to head for the pits. That left Conor Daly (USA – Lotus GP) leading the race ahead of Niederhauser and Kevin Ceccon (ITA - Ocean Racing Technology). Félix da Costa was down in 18th following his pitstop to change to wets.
The conditions had got so bad though that the red flag was brought out and the drivers waited on the start/line grid for around 15 minutes while the sunshine reappeared and racing could get underway.
The race resumed behind the safety car and on lap 8 the action began. Niederhauser was the man on the move as he weighed up Daly’s Lotus GP car and the two raced wheel to wheel through the spray. The Swiss driver grabbed his opportunity and passed the American on the inside to take the lead of the race.
A lap later Félix da Costa’s race was cut short after contact resulted in a damaged front left wheel and the Portuguese driver finished in the gravel. His disappointment was compounded by the fact that the race result dropped him from 3rd to 6th in the points table.
Standings after 9 of 16 races:
1st Evans 102 points, 2nd Vainio 97, 3rd Niederhauser 75, 4th Daly 65, 5th Abt 62, 6th Félix da Costa 58
GP3 Race 2 at Hockenheim on Sunday starts at 09.25 am CET