The Frenchman may have been disappointed to have missed out on pole position by a tenth this morning in qualifying, but a flying start in Race 1 from second place meant the ART Grand Prix rookie Esteban Ocon stormed into the lead of the race to ultimately take a lights to flag victory.
In a race which saw several virtual safety cars, Arden International’s Emil Bernstorff took second place after passing Series leader Luca Ghiotto at the final re-start. Marvin Kirchhöfer completed the podium.
Trident’s Ghiotto started from his fourth pole of the season, with Ocon alongside him. The ART Grand Prix star made a lightning getaway, whilst the Italian bogged down on the line. The Arden Motorsport duo of Bernstorff and Kevin Ceccon also passed Ghiotto as they entered into Turn 1.
Contact was made between Ghiotto and Ceccon, with the Arden driver suffering a puncture and having to retire from the race. Stewards issued the Series leader with a five second time penalty which was added to his final race time.
Carlin’s Jann Mardenborough ran wide over the Eau Rouge kerb on lap three which sent his car into the barrier. This brought the first deployment of the Virtual Safety car to recover his car. Once the action resumed several laps later, Bernstorff was lying in wait for Ocon and looked ready to pounce but Ghiotto was in his mirrors and wasted no time in moving up to second, getting a good tow from the Brit, and set off after race leader Ocon.
Ocon held a small one second advantage over Ghiotto, with Bernstorff four seconds adrift. On lap 9, Seb Morris passed Jenzer Motorsport’s Pal Varhaug for P8, but the Brit ran wide and the two made contact, with the duo retiring. Beitske Visser did not have the dream comeback after stopping at Turn 16. The Virtual Safety car was deployed for a second time whilst her car was removed.
The action resumed with Ocon keen to defend the advances of Ghiotto, but a third virtual safety car was issued after Matheo Tuscher made contact with Sandy Stuvik. The pair both having to retire due to the damage sustained.
The final two laps of the race were run in clear conditions and it was Ghiotto in second who made a mistake at the re-start costing him vital time. Bernstorff was able to sneak back into second place, whilst Kirchhöfer also passed Fuoco for fourth.
At the chequered flag, Ocon enjoyed his second win of his GP3 career, one second ahead of Bernstorff.
Due to the five second time penalty, Ghiotto dropped from third to sixth place, promoting Kirchhöfer to third position. Fuoco was fourth ahead of Koiranen GP’s Jimmy Eriksson (the Swede serving a drive through penalty for a jump start). Completing the top ten were: Ghiotto, Alfonso Celis Jr, Alex Palou (achieving his and Campos Racing’s first points of the season), Aleksander Bosak (also achieving his debut points of the campaign) and Ralph Boschung.
Ghiotto’s lead in the Drivers’ Standings has been reduced from 23 points to 14 points following Ocon’s victory, whilst Kirchhöfer is third ahead of Bernstorff. In the Teams’ Standings, ART Grand Prix remain on top with 241 points ahead of Trident (154) and Arden International (149).
Race 2 will commence at 09.25am local time tomorrow with Palou starting from reverse pole.
|1||Esteban Ocon||ART Grand Prix||43:59.187|
|2||Emil Bernstorff||Arden International||+1.055|
|3||Marvin Kirchofer||ART Grand Prix||+5.542|
|5||Jimmy Eriksson||Koiranen GP||+8.497|
|7||Alfonso Celis Jr||ART Grand Prix||+15.596|
|8||Alex Palou||Campos Racing||+18.547|
|9||Aleksander Bosak||Arden International||+23.487|
|10||Ralph Boschung||Jenzer Motorsport||+23.726|
|11||Alex Fontana||Status Grand Prix||+24.200|
|14||Zaid Ashkanani||Campos Racing||+30.382|
|15||Adderly Fong||Koiranen GP||+46.358|
|RET||Matheo Tuscher||Jenzer Motorsport||L12|
|RET||Sandy Stuvik||Status Grand Prix||L12|
|RET||Pal Varhaug||Jenzer Motorsport||L9|
|RET||Seb Morris||Status Grand Prix||L9|
|RET||Matthew Parry||Koiranen GP||L5|
|RET||Kevin Ceccon||Arden International||L2|