Red Bull junior Kari secures maiden victory in Imola

by Paul Hensby

Niko Kari made a great move around the outside of Lance Stroll at Tamburello to clinch his maiden FIA European Formula 3 Championship victory on Saturday at Imola.

The Red Bull-backed Motopark driver had looked on course to trail current championship leader but made the move work late on just after the restart following a caution period to recover David Beckmann’s crashed Mücke Motorsport machine.

Kari has showed signs of improvement in recent races and finally broke through for his maiden win, ultimately winning by 0.788 seconds as Stroll was forced to settle for second.

Despite missing out on the win, Stroll still extended his championship lead by another eighteen points after main rival Maximilian Günther’s difficult weekend continued into race one as he finished outside the points in twelfth.

Completing the podium was Joel Eriksson, also of Motopark, who also pulled off a similar move to Kari on another Prema Powerteam driver at Tamburello, with Nick Cassidy ultimately being forced to settle for fourth as a result.

George Russell was fifth for Hitech GP, having also found himself passed by Eriksson early on, ahead of Anthoine Hubert of Van Amersfoort Racing, while Guanyu Zhou drove a good race to move up to seventh for Motopark. Prema Powerteam’s Ralf Aron ended up eighth ahead of Hitech GP’s Ben Barnicoat and Mücke Motorsport’s Mikkel Jensen.

The race was affected by two safety cars, with Pedro Piquet causing the first after spinning off at Rivazza, while the second was caused when Beckmann clashed with Sergio Sette Câmara at Tamburello and ended up in the wall while the duo fought for places in the top ten.

But no one could deny Kari, and it appears that Red Bull has found another little gem in their young driver programme – and he is still only sixteen!

Imola Race 1 Result

110Niko KariFINMotopark
21Lance StrollCANPrema Powerteam+0.788
322Joel ErikssonSWEMotopark+0.998
42Nick CassidyNZLPrema Powerteam+2.301
512George RussellGBRHitech GP+2.701
621Anthoine HubertFRAVan Amersfoort Racing+4.997
723Guanyu ZhouCHNMotopark+6.591
816Ralf AronESTPrema Powerteam+7.573
924Ben BarnicoatGBRHitech GP+7.991
107Mikkel JensenDENMucke Motorsport+8.409
1120Harrison NeweyGBRVan Amersfoort Racing+9.574
1217Maximilian GuntherGERPrema Powerteam+11.434
1311Nikita MazepinRUSHitech GP+12.104
1414Wing Chung ChangMACThreeBond with T-Sport+18.283
156Callum IlottGBRVan Amersfoort Racing+18.391
RET9Sergio Sette CamaraBRZMotoparkRetired
RET15Ukyo SasaharaJAPThreeBond with T-SportRetired
RET8David BeckmannGERMucke MotorsportRetired
RET5Pedro PiquetBRZVan Amersfoort RacingRetired

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