Northern Irish racer William Buller made a solid start to his assault on the F3 Euroseries and FIA European F3 Championship with a hat-trick of top six finishes during the opening weekend of the new season at Hockenheim.
Will, originally from Scarva but now based in Northamptonshire, was taking part in his first race of the season, and also his first race meeting with Carlin, having joined the multiple championship-winning team for a busy campaign that will also see him compete in the F1 support series, GP3.
Having only driven the new Dallara F3 car, and experienced the F3 Euroseries’ new Hankook tyres, for the first time in a shakedown test held earlier in the week, Will posted the eighth fastest time in qualifying, which set his position on the grid for the third race of the weekend in Germany. His second quickest time during the session would put him one place higher on the grid for the opening race.
When the opening race kicked off, Will was soon making up places to run in fourth in his Volkswagen-powered car. Despite his best efforts to get ahead of Mucke Motorsport driver Felix Rosenqvist as the race wore on, Will was unable to find a way through and finished his first F3 Euroseries race just outside the podium positions.
Starting fifth for the reverse grid second race, Will again ran in fourth place for much of the race to match his earlier result, producing an impressive defensive performance late on to keep team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr behind.
Eighth on the grid for race three left Will with work to do to move up the order, but another solid performance saw him complete a number of great overtaking moves to make up two places to cross the line sixth – although he scored points for fifth place as one of the drivers ahead wasn’t eligible for the Euroseries standings.
As a result, he ends the opening weekend of the season sitting fourth in the standings for both the F3 Euroseries and the FIA F3 European Championship.
“The DTM package in Europe is very special and within that, it is a privilege to be driving for Volkswagen as they are a major motorsport force,” Will said. “The European series is very strong and the weekend felt more like a Formula One weekend compared to what I have been used to in the past.
“I’d only had one day of testing going into the weekend while most of my rivals had had a lot more, and some had completed several races, so I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. My pace in the races was good, but I was disappointed with my performance in qualifying, which put me on the back foot. We went in a different direction to Carlos with the set-up and it wasn’t quite right. However, I’d rather get a bad qualifying session out of the way in the first meeting!
“Overall I’m satisfied with the way the races panned out and to be fourth in the championship after the first weekend is a good start. It’s a little bit disappointing that I couldn’t get a podium finish in race one as I think had the pace to get ahead of Rosenqvist, but I wasn’t going to make a stupid move to try and get ahead and risk the championship points.
“I felt really comfortable with the Carlin team on my first race weekend with them and they are a great bunch of guys to work with. We know we have some work to do and there are a few areas we need to look at, but I’m confident we’ll be right at the front for the next Euroseries event at Brands Hatch.”