William Buller claimed victory in the second GP3 Series race on home soil at Silverstone with a storming drive from last on the grid in difficult conditions.
Light rain was falling on the grid before the race, providing a tricky challenge for the teams in terms of tyre choice. Most went for wets, though second-placed Alex Brundle and fourth-placed Conor Daly gambled on slicks.
It proved to be far too wet for them in the opening laps and they plummeted down the order, while third-place starter Tio Ellinas got ahead of polesitter Kevin Ceccon for the lead.
The Cypriot remained in first until lap eight, when he was forced to succumb to a flying Patric Niederhauser, who after starting tenth got up to fifth by the end of lap three before getting past Ceccon, Race 1 winner Antonio Felix Da Costa and then Ellinas.
Niederhauser’s Jenzer Motorsport teammate Robert Visoiu was also a man on a mission after starting 15th, up to sixth by the end of lap four. He followed Niederhauser into second on lap eight, but by this stage the track was coming towards those on slicks.
Starting from 25th and last after retiring on the first lap of Saturday’s race, Buller had started on slicks, but unlike Brundle and Daly he was able to make some progress at the start. He was up to second past Visoiu on lap nine, and then took the lead of the race from Niederhauser on lap 10.
Buller crossed the finish line after 14 laps to complete a magnificent drive to victory, and hand the British Carlin team a double victory – only the second time one team has won both races in a GP3 weekend.
Daly finished up 8.5 seconds behind Buller in second place, after producing a storming recovery of his own having dropped to 20th in the first couple of laps.
Still on wets, Niederhauser completed the podium in third – albeit 30 seconds behind the winner.
Ellinas headed for the pits once he lost the lead to switch to slicks, but that allowed him to recover to fourth and set the fastest lap on the final tour.
Visoiu finished fifth, ahead of Felix Da Costa and Ceccon. Fabio Gamberini completed the points-paying positions on his first weekend in GP3 after coming in and changing to slicks at the end of the parade lap.
Fabiano Machado lost out on a point on the last lap, finishing ninth ahead of Brundle – who was unable to follow in the wheel-tracks of fellow slick runners Buller and Daly after he spun earlier on and then came into the pits.
Championship leader Mitch Evans finished 11th after falling right down the order on his wets and being forced to change to slicks. Facu Regalia, Kotaro Sakurai and Tamas Pal Kiss were next up, in front of Robert Cregan, Giovanni Venturini and Ethan Ringel.
Evans’ championship rival Aaro Vainio failed to finish after mounting fellow Finn Matias Laine into Vale near the end and ending up in the gravel.
That was just after Vainio’s Lotus GP teammate Daniel Abt had slid off at Becketts. He was followed off under yellow flags by Marlon Stockinger, who collided with Abt’s stranded car. Alice Powell slid off at Copse and into the gravel after fitting slicks.