Championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne sealed win number six for the season at the first British Formula Three race of the weekend at Rockingham.

The Frenchman had begun the weekend in comparatively disappointing style, only managing third on the grid behind Oli Webb and Carlos Huertas. However, once the race began the Red Bull backed man returned to the form that has given him the championship lead.

Making a stunning start he was almost immediately past Webb's slow-starting Fortec Dallara off the line before he overhauled Huertas in the left-handed hairpin at Deene to take the lead with a commanding move.

The Raikkonen-Robertson man dropped back to nearly seconds from Vergne's rear wing, but the Columbian kept his resolve to not only pull away from Webb, Vergne's nearest championship, but to start mounting a challenge for the lead.

The fight came to a head four laps from the end of the 24 lap encounter, though his attempt around the outside at Deene – where Vergne had passed him – was easily seen off by the Frenchman, now on full song.

“I should have won that race,” lamented Huertas, who trailed by 0.282 seconds at the checkered flag. “I defended at Deene but it was a bit wet so I left him perhaps a little more room and he took it. I lost it at the beginning.”

Webb never recovered from his slow start and dropping to third, a place he maintained for the entire race, holding off James Calado in another of the Carlin entries, this Dallara-Volkswagen sponsored by the Racing Steps Foundation.

“I wanted to win, of course – this is always the target,” said the triumphant Vergne. “I had a really good start, one of my best I guess, and then I pushed really hard in the opening laps.”

The Hitech pairing – Will Buller and Gabriel Dias – finished fifth and sixth ahead of Felipe Nasr, Daniel McKenzie, Adriano Buzaid and Daisuke Nakajima.

The Japanese will start tomorrow morning's second race – replete with compulsory pitstops – from pole, the top ten reversed thanks to victor Vergne's random draw post race.

Menasheh Idafar won the National Class, passing rival James Cole – who started one place ahead on the grid – on the start, setting the class' fastest lap and winning his T-Sport stablemate by two seconds.