Pedro Piquet led every single lap to take his and Trident‘s first win in the new era of the FIA Formula 3 Championship at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
The Brazilian started on the front row behind Jehan Daruvala and slipstreamed his way past the PREMA Racing driver on the Kemmel Straight at the start to take the lead.
A couple of incidents occurred on the opening lap. One involving Jake Hughes, who was fifth on the grid, got tipped round by Logan Sargeant at Les Combes and falling to the back of the field. The stewards found that Sargeant was at fault for the collision and was handed a five-second time penalty.
The second incident happened a couple of corners later, where Devlin DeFrancesco and Alex Peroni tussled over a top ten position and made contact before the Campos Racing driver ended up in the barrier and bringing out the Virtual Safety Car.
When the Virtual Safety Car ended, fourth place Leonardo Pulcini caught Yuki Tsunoda napping and nipped past easily before the Italian lined up Daruvala into the Bus Stop Chicane and was up into second by the end of Lap Two.
However, Tsunoda with DRS went side by side with Pulcini and Daruvala on the Kemmel Straight and jumped back up into second before the Japanese driver conceded the position back to the Hitech Grand Prix pilot on the next lap.
Daruvala was next on Tsunoda’s heels on Lap Five, as the Indian driver swept by the Jenzer Motorsport car and up into the podium places. Robert Shwartzman was the next man to send the Red Bull junior driver further down the order to fifth on the following tour.
The Kemmel Straight was very much becoming the overtaking part of the racetrack lap by lap. Daruvala on Lap Seven moved ahead of Pulcini into second and set about catching race leader Piquet.
Shwartzman made it two PREMAs on the podium, replicating Daruvala’s pass on Pulcini with ten laps to go. The same lap saw Christian Lundgaard making a charge through the field from fourteenth on the grid for ART Grand Prix. The Dane got by Richard Verschoor for seventh on the same lap.
Lundgaard’s team-mate Max Fewtrell duplicated the move on the next lap on the Dutchman and up to eighth and in a position for reverse-grid pole for the Sprint Race.
Lap Ten and Shwartzman was right behind Daruvala. With the speed advantage due to DRS, the Russian was crucially ahead of his title rival and into second position. The other PREMA driver Marcus Armstrong was coming through the field strongly after a disappointing qualifying. The Kiwi had started nineteenth and pulled off a move on Verschoor for ninth with eight laps remaining.
David Beckmann was the next driver to overtake the MP Motorsport driver, as the German was up into the final points position in tenth three laps later. In contrast to his team-mate, Fewtrell lost eighth place to the hard-charging Armstrong.
The final lap saw Pulcini, Tsunoda, Jüri Vips and Lundgaard squabble over fourth position. Pulcini was struggling with grip and allowed the other three drivers to pull alongside him. With the outside line and no room to keep to the track limits, Lundgaard went off onto the run-off area at Les Combes and re-joined behind fourth place Vips, while Pulcini dropped to seventh behind Tsunoda.
The drama did not stop there, as Lundgaard made a last-gasp lunge on Vips into the Bus Stop Chicane and completed a brilliant drive to fourth after starting the race ten places further down. The stewards’ investigation on the incident at Les Combes on the last lap concluded that no further action was taken.
Up front though saw Piquet win by over two seconds from Shwartzman and getting the extra two points for the fastest lap. Daruvala took the final podium place in third. Armstrong was eighth and on reverse-grid pole for tomorrow’s Sprint Race.
Today’s result sees Shwartzman’s lead extended to nineteen points, while Jehan Daruvala jumps into second place by a point over Vips. Piquet’s win leaps him up to sixth in the Drivers’ Championship.
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