Caio Collet claimed the victory in a safety car-dominated FIA Formula 3 sprint race at a slippery Spa-Francorchamps track.
The Van Amersfoort Racing driver took the lead at the end of the opening lap and survived two safety car restarts to achieve his first win of the 2023 season. Jenzer Motorsport’s Taylor Barnard in second and Prema’s Paul Aron in third completed the podium.
Light rain fell moments before the race, but the track wasn’t wet enough for drivers to fit grooved tyres.
At the start, Prema’s Paul Aron chose the outside line going into La Source. At the exit of the corner, he found himself too close to Campos Racing’s Hugh Barter, who had started from reversed-grid pole-position and had to back off. As a result, he lost the place to Barnard and Collet, who had started from third and fourth position respectively.
Barnard and Collet went on to overtake Barter at the Kemmel straight to go first and second into Les Combes. Barter continued to drop places as he fell behind Aron at Les Fagnes. Then Collet claimed the lead of the race with a bold move around the outside of Barnard at Blanchimont.
Further down the field, VAR’s Rafael Villagomez hit the rear of Hitech GP’s Sebastian Montoya at the exit of Bruxelles. Montoya was forced to retire from the race and the safety car came out to allow marshals to pick up his car. Villagomez received a 10-second time penalty for the incident.
Racing resumed at the end of lap three with the top five holding on to their positions. Behind them, Prema’s Zak O’Sullivan overtook team-mate Dino Beganovic for sixth place around the outside of La Source. The Williams junior went on to pass Barter at the Kemmel straight, who also lost the place to MP’s Franco Colapinto.
The safety car was out again at the end of the lap four. Campos Racing’s Pepe Marti had attempted a move on Hitech’s Gabriele Mini around the outside on Pouhon, but Mini on the inside couldn’t keep a tight inside line due to the slippery track and they touched.
The Alpine junior ended up into the gravel trap and retired, whereas Marti tried to rejoin the track. As he did so, he made contact with Rodin Carlin’s Ido Cohen, who was coming at reduced speed with damage to the front of his car. Marti immediately apologised to Cohen as he jumped out of the car, but it had been a marshal who had told him it was safe to rejoin.
The track went green again on lap eight of 12. Edgar locked up his front tyres at La Source and went wide, which allowed O’Sullivan to drive past. Colapinto also tried to overtake his team-mate, but Edgar held him off.
The safety car came out for the third time at the end of lap nine and this time the race would not restart.
Championship leader Gabriel Bortoleto had made his way up from 15th on the grid to ninth place, but his race came to an early end as Beganovic hit his rear-left tyre at La Source, which led to the Trident driver stopping at the Kemmel straight with suspected suspension damage – although none was visible in the paddock afterwards.
It remains to be seen whether points will be awarded from the race, with less than two laps of racing without safety car interruptions – even though it ran to its ‘full’ distance of 12 laps, shortened from 15 ahead of the weekend over tyre wear concerns.
Race result (12 laps)
|1||Caio Collet||Van Amersfoort Racing||36m16.106s|
|2||Taylor Barnard||Jenzer Motorsport||+0.559s|
|5||Jonny Edgar||MP Motorsport||+1.536s|
|6||Franco Colapinto||MP Motorsport||+1.689s|
|7||Hugh Barter||Campos Racing||+2.206s|
|8||Nikola Tsolov||ART Grand Prix||+2.512s|
|10||Luke Browning||Hitech GP||+3.382s|
|12||Gregoire Saucy||ART Grand Prix||+4.446s|
|13||Nikita Bedrin||Jenzer Motorsport||+4.728s|
|14||Sophia Floersch||PHM by Charouz||+5.352s|
|15||Kaylen Frederick||ART Grand Prix||+5.642s|
|17||Mari Boya||MP Motorsport||+6.528s|
|18||Roberto Faria||PHM by Charouz||+7.623s|
|19||Alex Garcia||Jenzer Motorsport||+10.371s|
|20||Tommy Smith||Van Amersfoort Racing||+10.833s|
|21||Christian Mansell||Campos Racing||+11.889s|
|23||Michael Shin||PHM by Charouz||+13.135s|
|24||Rafael Villagomez||Van Amersfoort Racing||+18.848s|
|Ret||Gabriele Mini||Hitech GP|
|Ret||Pepe Marti||Campos Racing|
|Ret||Sebastian Montoya||Hitech GP|
|Fastest lap: Collet, 2m14.585s|