Home Featured Caio Collet wins safety car-filled F3 sprint race at Spa

Caio Collet wins safety car-filled F3 sprint race at Spa

by Alejandro Alonso Lopez

Photo: Formula Motorsport Ltd

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)

Pos Driver Team Time
1 Caio Collet Van Amersfoort Racing 36m16.106s
2 Taylor Barnard Jenzer Motorsport +0.559s
3 Paul Aron Prema +0.998s
4 Zak O’Sullivan Prema +1.316s
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
9 Dino Beganovic Prema +3.242s
10 Luke Browning Hitech GP +3.382s
11 Leonardo Fornaroli Trident +3.538s
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
16 Francesco Simonazzi Carlin +6.206s
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
22 Ollie Gray Carlin +12.672s
23 Michael Shin PHM by Charouz +13.135s
24 Rafael Villagomez Van Amersfoort Racing +18.848s
Ret Gabriel Bortoleto Trident
Ret Gabriele Mini Hitech GP
Ret Pepe Marti Campos Racing
Ret Oliver Goethe Trident
Ret Ido Cohen Carlin
Ret Sebastian Montoya Hitech GP
Fastest lap: Collet, 2m14.585s