Preview: 2018 GP3 Series – Sochi Autodrom


2015 GP3 Series: Sochi
Credit: Zak Mauger/GP3 Series Media Service

The GP3 Series returns to action this weekend at the Sochi Autodrom, for the penultimate round of the 2018 championship.

Having not raced in Russia since 2015, due to the race moving to the start of the Formula One season, it shall be a new challenge for the drivers.

ART Grand Prix’s Anthoine Hubert is leading the championship, with a 29 point advantage over team-mate Nikita Mazepin.

Callum Ilott is third in the standings for the French outfit, level on points with Hubert.

What happened at Sochi last time?

The Feature Race was cancelled on Saturday following Carlos Sainz‘s crash in F1 practice which necessitated barrier repairs.

Due to the level of work that needed to be done, and the need to run F1 qualifying and the, then, GP2 race as well as issues with light it would not have been possible for it to go ahead later on.

Instead, the decision was taken for the race to run on Sunday morning ahead of the Sprint Race.

Luca Ghiotto won the rescheduled race, after a strong first lap saw him move up from sixth on the grid into the lead by Turn 13.

An early safety car was deployed after Kevin Ceccon and Aleksander Bosak collided at the final corner.

When racing restarted with Ghiotto quickly making a break from Esteban Ocon behind.

Ocon, even ran wide at one point trying to reduce the gap to the Italian ahead.

Ghiotto held on, with Ocon second and Emil Bernstorff completed the podium.

With the action barely over, the drivers were back in their cars to get the action underway once again.

Jimmy Eriksson started on reverse grid pole and led a confident race to the flag after briefly losing the lead to Antonio Fuoco on the opening lap.

The Swede built up a gap to those behind, to put himself out of any threat of being challenged.

Behind, Ocon charged through the pack to take another second place with Jann Mardenborough completing the podium.

What happened last time at Monza?

Last time out David Beckmann, took his second victory of the GP3 Series after leading from start to finish in difficult wet conditions.

Having taken his maiden victory just a week before at Spa-Francorchamps, the German was keen to build on his fine form.

Championship leader Hubert finished in second place, with Ilott taking the final spot on the podium late on after Leonardo Pulcini slowed and ultimately dropped out of the points.

On Sunday, Pedro Piquet, took his second victory in the GP3 with team-mate Giuliano Alesi second.

The pair, passed polesitter Richard Verschoor before Turn 1 before they fought it out for the race win.

However, the safety car put a brief halt to it just as Alesi was looking to make a move on Piquet.

With action resumed, the pair engaged in a race long swapping places on a number of occasions with the decisive move coming on the penultimate lap.

A locked brake at the first chicane allowed Piquet the momentum heading into the Curva Grande, to fight his way through into the second chicane.

On the final lap, despite having DRS Alesi was not able to return the favour and crossed the line less than half a second behind his team-mate.

Ilott finished third for ART.

However, following the race Ilott and Hubert were disqualified from the results due to tyre pressure offences.

Both of their rear left tyres were deemed to be below the minimum pressure required by Pirelli and as a result were disqualified.

Having finished third and fourth this promoted Mazepin to the final podium spot and the fourth ART of Jake Hughes to fourth.

What is the schedule for the weekend?

Friday 28 September

Free Practice: 9.30 (GMT+3)

Qualifying: 17.50

Saturday 29 September

Feature Race: 10.15

Sunday 30 September

Sprint Race: 10.05

Where can I watch the GP3 action from Sochi?

Coverage of the entire weekend will be shown on Sky F1 in the UK and Ireland, race reruns will also be shown during the week.

HOW CAN I KEEP UP TO DATE WITH ALL THE ACTION OVER THE WEEKEND?

Keep an eye on The Checkered Flag where all the latest news and session reports will be posted throughout the weekend!