ART Grand Prix‘s Alexander Albon was the driver who got to take the honour of claiming the first ever GP3 Series victory at the Sepang International Circuit after making a good start from third on the grid to pass poleman and team mate Charles Leclerc.
Albon also collected the two bonus points for setting the fastest lap for good measure to move himself up to second in the title battle. Arden International‘s Jack Aitken finished in second place with Leclerc rounding off the podium.
Championship leader Leclerc started from his fourth pole of the season but it was Albon who made the best getaway to jump into the lead. Nyck de Vries was hot on the tail of his team-mates but going into Turn 4 he tagged the back of Leclerc causing the Monegasque to run wide and lose two positions. The Dutchman dropped down to eighteenth and was issued with a five-second penalty for causing a collision.
As a result of the incident between the ART driver’s, Aitken was able to move into second place with Arjun Maini third. Leclerc was keen to make up lost ground and passed the Indian driver on lap two.
Nirei Fukuzumi and Jake Dennis were battling over P6 with the Briton ultimately coming out on top. Dennis then set after Steijn Schothorst for P5, managing to pass the Dutchman but out-braked himself allowing the Campos Racing driver to claim the position back.
Out front Albon led with confidence as he built a gap of over two seconds over Aitken, who in turn was being caught by Leclerc with the deficit coming down to just 0.2 seconds in the final laps. Maini was also on the move in fourth place, finding extra pace to reel in Leclerc.
At the chequered flag Albon crossed the line 6.3 seconds ahead of Aitken in second place with Leclerc holding off Maini’s efforts to take his eighth podium of the season. Schothorst, Dennis, Fukuzumi, Antonio Fuoco, Matthew Parry and Sandy Stuvik completing the top ten.
Following the race Artur Janosz was handed a three place grid penalty as a result of contact with DAMS‘ Jake Hughes, as the Pole did not finish the race he will start the race from the pit lane.
Leclerc’s lead in the championship has been cut to 24 points, with his team-mate Albon now his nearest rival after Fuoco finished in P8 following a spin at Turn 4. However the Italian will start tomorrow’s race from reverse pole.
Tomorrow’s fourteen-lap Sprint Race starts at 10.05 local time.
Sepang International Circuit Race 1 Results
[table id=1544 /]