George Russell led home an ART Grand Prix 1-2-3 for his third victory of the 2017 GP3 Series season at Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday.
The Briton, who tested with the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team during the summer break, got the better of team-mate Nirei Fukuzumi early on, and ultimately pulled away to take the chequered flag more than seven seconds.
Fukuzuki had made a great move early to take the lead at the end of the Kemmel Straight, but the Japanese racer was forced to concede position to Russell, before he came under threat from behind from Jack Aitken.
Aitken ultimately came out on top with a great move of his own heading into Les Combes, and despite the best efforts of the Honda-protégé, the Renault-backed Anglo-Korean driver claimed second place but less than four-tenths of a second when the chequered flag fell.
Arjun Maini attempted to keep in touch with the leading trio but ended up having a relatively quiet afternoon, with the Jenzer Motorsport driver finishing fourth, a couple of seconds behind a podium finish but more than five seconds clear of fifth placed Dorian Boccolacci.
Boccolacci was shadowed by team-mate Ryan Tveter to the chequered flag, while a third Trident driver, Giuliano Alesi, was seventh after a great charge from twelfth on the grid, finishing on his team-mates tail after great late race pace.
Julien Falchero secured an excellent eighth for Campos Racing, with the Frenchman now set to start Sunday’s second race from pole position, while Niko Kari and Kevin Jörg completed the points scorers.
There was disappointment for Marcos Siebert, who was on course for points before being forced to retire with suspected rear suspension damage, but the team who will be glad Saturday’s action is over is DAMS, who saw all three of their drivers in strife.
Starting from tenth on the grid, Tatiana Calderon fell right to the back after failing to get away when the lights when out, and when fighting her way back into the action she ran across the kerbs at Les Combes and on returning to the track, punted team-mate Bruno Baptista into the barriers.
The move gave the Sauber F1 Team junior a ten-second time penalty, which saw her classified at the back of the field, but she was the only DAMS driver to finish, with Matthieu Vaxiviere also retiring early with damage.
Another driver to suffer an early retirement was Antoine Hubert, who was attempting to climb through the field from a lowly grid slot, only to retire his ART Grand Prix car after only a handful of laps to dent his chances of the title.
Spa-Francorchamps Feature Race Result
|1||3||George Russell||GBR||ART Grand Prix||37:47.103|
|2||1||Jack Aitken||GBR||ART Grand Prix||+7.460s|
|3||2||Nirei Fukuzumi||JAP||ART Grand Prix||+7.807s|
|4||24||Arjun Maini||IND||Jenzer Motorsport||+9.259s|
|8||26||Julien Falchero||FRA||Campos Racing||+23.361s|
|9||5||Niko Kari||FIN||Arden International||+26.210s|
|11||6||Leonardo Pulcini||ITA||Arden International||+27.620s|
|12||22||Alessio Lorandi||ITA||Jenzer Motorsport||+29.201s|
|13||7||Steijn Schothorst||NED||Arden International||+35.149s|
|14||27||Raoul Hyman||RSA||Campos Racing||+38.400s|
|15||23||Juan Manuel Correa||USA||Jenzer Motorsport||+38.625s|
|RET||28||Marcos Siebert||ARG||Campos Racing||Retired|
|RET||4||Anthoine Hubert||FRA||ART Grand Prix||Retired|