Antonio Giovinazzi capitalised on a fast start from fifth on the grid to win the third British F3 International Series race at Spa-Francorchamps.
With the race beginning in greasy conditions Giovinazzi was able to get into the lead ahead of Jann Mardenborough who passed Carlin teammates Nicholas Latifi and Jordan King who fell into third and fifth respectively with Felipe Guimaraes slotting between them.
The Fortec Motorsports driver was pushed back to fifth on the second lap, King breaking away from the Brazilian and Double R driver Sean Gelael to begin to pressure Latifi. The pace that gave the Canadian both poles on offer from Thursday’s qualifying session had deserted him in the increasingly hazardous conditions as the Spa weather proved predictably fickle.
King pulled onto the tail of Latifi but was initially unable to make the pass to complete the podium but pulled to the outside of La Source at the start of the 12th and final lap of the race. The wider line – often favoured in the wet – around the tight right hander gave King both an overlap on his teammate the greater drive on the exit of the corner and though the pair raced side by side down the hill towards the foot of the Eau Rouge and Radillion sweeps Latifi backed off before the turning in point giving King the position.
All this was taking place some ten seconds behind Giovinazzi. His lead over Mardenborough in second had grown to over two seconds in the opening lap before Mardenborough began to gain back some of the time lost, just as the rain started to fall harder. Consistently faster Mardenborough was able to bring the gap down to 0.7 seconds at the end of lap seven. However, a spin by Mardenborough at Pif Pif added five seconds to the deficit, giving Giovinazzi a comfortable lead that he protected to the end of the race.
Mardenborough remained faster than the Italian throughout all the way to the checkered flag – a statement of potential, had he not spun the gap out – reducing the gap to 2.9 seconds as Giovinazzi slowed across the line. After crossing the line, still at racing speed, the slow car in the spray ahead caught Mardenborough unawares and though he swerved in last moment avoidance he was able to avoid an accident, ripping the right-rear wheel from his car.
Taking the shine off his best F3 result to date – a second podium to add to that from the final British F3 race at Silverstone – Mardenborough was given a five place grid drop for the first race at Brands Hatch next month as he was deemed responsible for the accident.
Having been passed on the final lap Latifi salvaged a fourth place from a troubled weekend. Guimaraes finished fifth with Tatiana Calderon sixth.
Both Calderon and Will Buller – who had served a drive through at the end of the opening lap after his mechanics worked on the car for too long on the grid – both past Gelael after a slow lap, though he remained ahead of the National Class trio, again led by Sun Zheng to complete a sweep of all three of the weekend’s races.