Marco Wittmann dominated the Grand Prix de Pau from start to finish to win the 70th running of the classic street event.
The German Signature driver led away from pole position and was unchallenged on his way to the checkered flag, building up an advantage of nearly 15 seconds by the end of the race.
“What a weekend,” declared Wittmann afterwards. “I have won the Grand Prix de Pau, I have driven the fastest race lap and I had pole position. It couldn't have been any better. I can hardly find the words to describe what it means to have won this prestigious race in the home country of my team Signature.”
Wittmann's teammate Carlos Munoz started alongside him on the front row but the Colombian got a terrible start, dropping to fifth place. This allowed Roberto Merhi into second place, with Prema teammate Daniel Juncadella battling with him for the runner-up spot during the race. Though Juncadella was quicker over the closing stages he was unable to find a way past his fellow Spaniard.
“My start was really good and I was able to overtake Daniel in the first corner,” said Merhi. “In the second half of the race, I had many problems with degrading tyres. I hardly had any grip left and I had to defend my position from Daniel. But I knew when I wouldn't make a mistake, I would keep my second place.”
Juncadella said: “After I was third at the start, I decided to save my tyres first. As a result, they were still relatively good at the end of the race. I was quicker than Roberto and I tried to force him into making a mistake, but he didn't make one.”
Daniel Abt finished fourth for Signature, with teammate Munoz fifth. The remaining Signature car of Laurens Vanthoor did not make it to the finish after the Belgian crashed out. Pipo Derani was the highest-placed of the non-Euro Series runners in sixth, just ahead of fellow Double R driver Marko Asmer who finished seventh on his return to F3.
Kimiya Sato came home eighth for Motopark Academy, ahead of the Carlin trio of Carlos Huertas, Richard Bradley and Jazeman Jaafar. Joining Vanthoor on the retirements list was Motopark's Tom Dillmann who suffered gearbox failure.
Merhi’s second place sees him extend his lead in the inaugural FIA International Formula 3 Trophy standings, with Juncadella second and Abt third after three races. The next round of the series takes place at the British F3 round supporting the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on 30-31 July.
Race results after 35 laps:
1. Marco Wittmann Signature 42m01.758s
2. Roberto Merhi Prema + 14.943s
3. Daniel Juncadella Prema + 15.151s
4. Daniel Abt Signature + 16.683s
5. Carlos Munoz Signature + 28.907s
6. Pipo Derani Double R + 39.113s
7. Marko Asmer Double R + 40.745s
8. Kimiya Sato Motopark + 45.259s
9. Carlos Huertas Carlin + 49.932s
10. Richard Bradley Carlin + 50.918s
11. Jazeman Jaafar Carlin + 1m08.270s
Ret. Laurens Vanthoor Signature 10 laps
Ret. Tom Dillmann Motopark 4 laps