Having topped GP3 Series free practice, and taken pole position by over half a second, ART Grand Prix‘s Charles Leclerc then went on to claim his second victory of the season – even bagging the extra points for fastest lap for good measure. Team-mates’ Alexander Albon and Nyck de Vries completed the all ART rostrum in a race which saw the weather take a turn and end in an almighty deluge.
Albon took the lead from his teammate going into Turn 1, with Koiranen GP‘s Ralph Boschung up into second and enjoying a small battle with Leclerc. The Ferrari Driver Academy member was on a mission to reclaim the lead of the race – finding himself back in the lead half-way round the opening lap.
An incident at Turn 1 involving DAMS‘ Santino Ferrucci was penalised after colliding with Jake Dennis.
Out front, Leclerc was pumping in fastest lap times to get away from the chasing pack and quickly built a two second lead over Albon with de Vries behind.
The Virtual Safety Car was soon deployed as a result of Dennis stopping on the start/finish straight. As it returned to racing, Leclerc was strong with his restart and maintained a decent advantage over Albon and de Vries. In comparison, rookie Jake Hughes was immediately overtaken by Trident‘s more experienced Antonio Fuoco for P7.
Meanwhile, Leclerc was still finding more pace out front to build a gap of six seconds over his teammates’, with de Vries glued to the gearbox of Albon and just half a second separating the two.
With just six laps remaining, the rain began to fall. Leclerc was the first to arrive at the wet part of the track, running wide at Turn 2 – with Albon and de Vries behind both doing the same.
It was a challenging few laps for the driver’s with just half of the track wet, such is the nature of the Red Bull Ring.
Having made his way passed Matthew Parry, Fuoco swiftly chased after Oscar Tunjo, with the pair enjoying a fierce battle. The action did not stop despite the conditions with Tunjo passing Boschung. Unfortunately, Tunjo was served the black and orange flag due to his mirror hanging off his car which forced him to pit to have it fixed – he returned to track down in P14.
Fuoco and Boschung carried on their fight until the flag with the Swiss driver just holding off the advances of the Italian.
At the chequered flag, Leclerc took his second victory of 2016 ahead of team-mates’ Albon and de Vries. Behind them came Boschung, Fuoco, Parry, Nirei Fukuzumi, Hughes, Jack Aitken and Sandy Stuvik.
Red Bull Ring Race 1 Result
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*Jörg and Ferrucci were both awarded 10 second time penalties for causing collisions.