Felix finished in ninth place in the opening race of the weekend at Spielberg, after enduring a highly frustrating event that initially saw him move up to fourth from seventh on the grid only to spin on the second lap and receive a drive-through penalty for posting a personal best sector time under yellow flags.
Propelled by a good start and some dedicated driving on the opening lap, Felix had made up three positions from his original grid slot as the field began the second tour.
Having been forced wide by team-mate Pascal Wehrlein at the section of the lap leading onto the start-finish straight, however, Felix lost momentum up the hill towards Turn 1 and spun on the exit of the tight right-hander as he tried to defend from Carlos Sainz Jr.
Already heavily delayed by the incident, Felix’s misfortune would not end there, as he later became one of a flurry of drivers – which included fellow front-runners Daniel Juncadella and Will Buller – to receive a drive-through penalty for having improved his personal best time in Sector 3 under yellow flags.
Felix rejoined the field in 14th place, and immediately set about chasing down the drivers ahead of him at a rate of over a second per lap. By the time the safety car was deployed shortly before the end following a heavy crash from Sainz Jr., Felix was up to tenth – and when the field was released for one final lap of action, he managed to pass Jo Zeller Racing’s Andrea Roda for ninth. Felix’s charge wasn’t enough, however, to provide him with the highly coveted eighth place he had been seeking in order to start this afternoon’s Race 2 from pole position. Instead, he will line up ninth on the grid when the lights go out for the 20-minute sprint event at 17.50 local time.
The race was won by Raffaele Marciello ahead of Wehrlein and Jazeman Jaafar.
QUOTE | FELIX
“I made a very good start and was up to fourth on the opening lap, and then I wanted to get past Pascal – who was ahead of me – as quickly as possible. I ran a bit wide in the final corner and had to take a defensive line on the run to Turn 1 on the next lap, and unfortunately I spun on the exit as I got onto the marbles. I lost a lot of positions but was able to keep going, but then the drive-through penalty made it very, very tough to get away with any sort of result. I drove my heart out to try and get P8, but I was too far behind and had to settle for ninth. I didn’t use any of my new tyres for this race, which at least is a positive, and we will continue to charge hard in Race 2.”