Taking the lead at the start, Guan Yu Zhou controlled the field through multiple restarts to take the first win by a Chinese driver in the FIA European F3 Championship.
The Prema Powerteam driver never built a lead of more than a second, but it was enough to claim a 1-2 for the team at the first race of the season at the Circuit de Pau-ville.
Starting on pole, Dan Ticktum had the opportunity to maintain his advantage in the opening corner, but wheel spin-off the line, saw Zhou outrun him into Virage de la Gare. Overall, it was a clean start for the field, with no major gaps forming in the opening four laps.
The first yellow came out to deal with Devlin DeFrancesco‘s stricken vehicle, as Ben Hingeley stopped on track to cut the restart short, welcoming the full safety car. After a ten minute stint under green the safety car returned for a final time as Andres Kevyan Soori hit the barrier at turn two.
With a two-minute sprint to the finish, Zhou broke away from teammate Ralf Aron, as Ticktum challenged the Estonian in order to reclaim the place he’d lost during the last restart. It proved to be fruitless though as Sacha Fenestraz pressured behind him.
It was Zhou’s maiden win in F3 as Aron set the fastest lap. Ticktum’s third gave him top rookie honours ahead of fellow compatriots, Fenestraz, Marcus Armstrong and Enaam Ahmed who had worked his way up from eighth.
In doing so, Ahmed had overtaken teammate Alex Palou, who finished seventh as Robert Schwartzman came home a distant eighth. Marino Sato and Juri Vips rounded out the top ten.
As for Zhou the win will give him great confidence for the year ahead as he enters his third European F3 season.