General Formula 3

Armstrong wins, a​s Shwartzman is crowned champion

2 Mins read
Photo Credit: Glenn Dunbar

Robert Shwartzman has been crowned the 2019 FIA Formula 3 champion after a conservative drive which saw him beat teammate Jehan Daruvala for the title, whilst his Prema teammate Marcus Armstrong took overall victory.

After securing pole position on Friday Shwartzman just needed to win the feature race to wrap the F3 championship, whilst Daruvala needed to win the race in order to just keep the title fight alive for Sunday’s sprint race.

With an 80% chance of rain expected, strategy would play a joker card for both title challengers as the heavens opened on the formation lap.

Their would be 28 cars lining up on the grid as Lirim Zendeli pulled out of the race before the start.

As the lights went out, it was Armstrong who got the jump going straight past teammate Shwartzman as they headed down to turn one, whilst Daruvala fell to sixth, after bogging down on the line which saw his already slim championship hopes damaged.

The Indian quickly started his comeback after dispatching Christian Lundgaard for fifth into Turn 1.

Bent Viscaal was the first retirement of the race at Turn 5 after spinning out on the astroturf, the incident brought out the virtual safety car.

With the rain getting heavier, Trident reacted by pitting Devlin DeFrancesco in order to assess how wet the conditions were, with Carlin following suit by pitting Felipe Drugovich.

Hon Chio Leong‘s F3 debut ended on lap 4 after the Macanese driver crashed his Jenzer Motorsport machine into the barrier which brought out the safety car to remove the wreckage, with Trident and Carlin ending their wet weather experiment too.

The safety car pulled into the pits on lap 7, with Niko Kari attacking Shwartzman into turn 1, but with the Russian conscious about the championship situation he decided not to risk damaging the car and let Kari passed into second.

The steward’s room was kept busy with DeFrancesco receiving a five-second time penalty for a virtual safety car infringement, whilst Jüri Vips was handed a ten-second penalty for colliding with Lundgaard under the safety car which sent the Dane tumbling down the order.

Kari finally took the lead after pulling a superb move around the outside of Armstrong into turn 15.

The Kiwi attempted to exact his revenge on the Finn but failed to get the car stopped in time and lost two positions in a matter of corners with Leonardo Pulcini passing around the outside into turn 5.

Shwartzman moved into the lead with the help of DRS into Turn 1 on lap 13 with his Prema team telling him to push and to try and extend the gap.

Daruvala’s miserable race continued with first Vips getting by at turn 14, before Jake Hughes got through into turn 1, although the Indian did repass the Brit on the same lap.

Armstrong finally got the move on Kari completed into turn 1, with the Kiwi learning from his previous failures to restore Prema’s 1-2.

Pedro Piquet produced a late charge through the order with the Trident passing Hughes for seventh on the road which would become sixth after Vips’s penalty would be applied.

On the last lap, Armstrong completed his comeback by passing Shwartzman into Turn 1, with the Russian unable to respond as he thought about the championship.

Armstrong took his third win of the season, ahead of champion Shwartzman, Kari, Pulcini,Daruvala and Piquet with Hughes grabbing the fastest lap at the end, whilst the penalised Vips would be on the reverse grid pole position with eighth spot.

Shwartzman becomes the inaugural champion of the new era of F3 as well as the first Russian to take an FIA support championship since Daniil Kvyat took the GP3 title in 2013.

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