When free practice began on the second weekend of the 2009 F3 Euro Series, Sam had never set foot at the Lausitzring, unlike many of his opponents who had either tested or raced there in the past. Yet, at the end of the session on Friday evening, the Celebfilms.co.uk sponsored driver had topped the time sheets, showing that he was still very much the man to beat.
Saturday morning’s qualifying looked set be another opportunity for Sam to assert his superior pace as he had done by securing pole at Hockenheim two weeks earlier. However, the rain wreaked havoc on the half-hour shoot-out and the session was blighted by repeated yellow and red flags. In the last few minutes, with the 21 year-old Brit on a very hot lap with front-row worthy sectors 1 and 2, his efforts were thwarted by yet another yellow flag, forcing him to lift and settle for 8th place on the grid.
Sam made a superb start to the first race to grab fifth place by turn one. However, on a track notorious for its lack of overtaking opportunities, he was unable to move further up the order despite race-long pressure on Brendon Hartley just ahead of him.
Starting race two in fourth place, by virtue of the reverse grid format, Sam had fourth place snatched away from him, courtesy of a blatant jump-start by Valtteri Bottas, but then spectacularly outbraked several of his opponents into turn one to slot back into fourth. Two laps later, when Bottas was predictably given a drive-through penalty, Sam regained the third spot he had legitimately earned.
He then spent the remainder of the race pressuring the man ahead of him, confirming his unrivalled pace once again.
“I’m obviously pleased with the podium finish today. That was important for me and for the team as well”, said the CJ Motorsport managed driver. “After we lead the way in free practice, it’s disappointing that the weather conditions turned the qualifying session into a bit of a lottery but that’s racing sometimes. You just have to deal with what you get and try to make the most of it. I feel we did well in that respect. “
Sam scored a total of eight points at the Lausitzring, moving him up to second in the Championship, just two points off the leader.
The next round of the F3 Euro Series takes place at the Norisring, Germany on 27th-28th June. In the meantime, Sam will be competing at the prestigious European F3 Masters at Zandvoort, Netherlands on 13th-14th June.