Yifei Ye remains the man to beat at the head of the EuroFormula Open championship after another double victory at the Red Bull Ring, with the Chinese driver now having taken five of the six wins in 2020.
The CryptoTower Racing driver took both pole positions on top of his two victories, and made it a perfect weekend by setting the fastest lap in both races to move well clear at the head of the championship standings heading to the Autodromo Nazionale Monza at the end of the month.
Twelve Cars for Round Three in Austria
Twelve cars participated in the third event of the season, two down from the previous event at the Circuit Paul Ricard due to both Lukas Dunner and Cameron Das racing in their primary FIA Formula 3 Championship campaign at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello.
Ye was again partnered by Angolan Rui Andrade as CrytoTower Racing reduced their participation to two cars due to Dunner’s absence, with Team Motopark running Niklas Krütten alongside Manuel Maldonado with Das not competing in Austria.
Carlin Motorsport retained both Ido Cohen and Zane Maloney, with Drivex School also back with Glenn van Berlo and Shihab Al Habsi. Double R Racing continued with its one car for Ayrton Simmons, while Van Amersfoort Racing field three cars for brothers Sebastian and Andreas Estner and Alexandre Bardinon.
Dunner and Das are likely to be back for Monza as the FIA Formula 3 season concluded on Sunday.
Ye Dominates as Maldonado Takes First EuroFormula Open Podium
Ye took a superb pole position on Saturday morning at the Red Bull Ring, although the grid was a little mixed up as track limits at the Austrian track played a part in proceedings.
Ye, a former member of the Renault Driver Academy, took top spot in Qualifying but the grid was not set until later in the morning as both Maldonado and Sebastian Estner had lap times reinstated after review.
At the start, Ye got the jump on the field, while a puncture for Maloney sent the Carlin driver to the pits. It would be a testing day for the Barbados racer, who ultimately ended up five laps down on the race winner.
The race winner was Ye, who was in a class of his own at the head of the field, with the Chinese racer ending 8.838 seconds clear of Maldonado. The Venezuelan took his maiden EuroFormula Open podium in second, with Sebastian Estner beating his brother Andreas to third.
Cohen took fifth despite being on a final warning for track limits, with Simmons sixth ahead of van Berlo and Krütten. Krütten almost stalled at the start and dropped to the rear of the field, but the young German was able to recover to eighth, ahead of Andrade and Al Habsi.
Bardinon saw the chequered flag a lap down in eleventh after picking up damage on the opening lap, while Maloney brought up the rear for his third non-points finish of the season – he has finished on the podium in the other three races, proving he has the pace when he is allowed to show it.
Ye Wins Again from Maldonado as Estner Brothers Fade
Ye once again took pole position on Sunday morning, with his 1:22.310 enough to beat the chasing pack by almost four-tenths of a second. Behind the Chinese racer, the Estner brothers set an identical lap time, with Sebastian taking second ahead of Andreas on the basis of setting the time first.
Sebastian Estner actually took the lead into turn one but he was relegated back to second by Ye heading into turn three, although the Chinese ran wide on the exit of the turn and almost allowed Maldonado to become the third different leader in four turns.
Once clear of Maldonado, Ye was in a class of his own until the chequered flag, and like on Saturday, he was able to draw away from the rest of the field to take the win, this time by 5.827s.
Maldonado was able to claim second for a second consecutive day despite pressure from behind from Krütten, who made light work of Estner on the opening lap to jump into third.
Ido Cohen also got ahead of Estner on the opening lap to run fourth, but a trip through the run-off at turn ten relegated him back behind the German, and he also fell behind van Berlo due to the error.
Simmons continued his run of either finishing sixth or seventh by taking seventh, with Al Habsi having a lonely afternoon to eighth. Bardinon took ninth despite a clash with Andrade, with the Frenchman ending over forty-seconds off the leader as a result of the incident. Andrade was able to take the final point despite finishing a lap down due to the retirements of both Maloney and Andreas Estner.
Maloney’s season has been blighted by mechanical woes and they again resurfaced on Sunday as he retired early, while the elder Estner was out after an early clash with Maldonado.