Armstrong headstrong: young Kiwi continues road to F1
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Christchurch-born Marcus Armstrong is only in his third season of racing in Europe, but already he’s clocking some significant results.
Last year, Armstrong tackled the Italian F4 Championship and German ADAC Formula 4 Championship head on — finishing first and second overall in the two concurrent series’ respectively.
He then came home during the off-season for the Castrol Toyota Racing Series, only to stumble at the very final race of the season while holding the points advantage.
The surprise failure appears to have given the 17-year-old motivation for his next challenge; a stab at the 2018 FIA European Formula 3 Championship with the storied Italian Prema Theodore Racing squad.
After three rounds, the rookie leads the overall standings — albeit by one point.
“I’m happy to be leading the championship, but to be fair I wasn’t really expecting to take the lead of the championship this early — especially after the first three circuits [where I’ve never raced before],” he said.
“I think it’s pretty positive, especially heading towards the circuits that we do know.”
He endured a mixed start to the season. On the confined streets of the Pau Grand Prix in France he scooped a podium finish before crashing out with fellow TRS graduate Ferdinand Habsburg.
Then at round two in Hungary, a lap-one puncture thwarted a potential win. Another podium came his way in race two, keeping him in the title hunt. Then round three at the Norisring beckoned; a compact 2.3km circuit.
Armstrong kicked off the weekend with his first pole position of the season, before converting the lap-time into a maiden victory later in the day.
A second and third-place finish followed over the latter pair of races; enough to take over the series lead.
His nearest rivals in the points are UK drivers Dan Ticktum (Red Bull Academy driver and defending Macau GP winner) and Enaam Ahmed (another TRS graduate).
For Ticktum a crash on the grid of race two saw him collect no points, though he won the third race of the weekend.
Seven rounds of the European Formula 3 Series remain, where Armstrong will hope to retain the top spot.
If he can manage that, he will join the likes of current Formula 1 stars Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel as a Formula 3 champion.