Victor Martins won the opening FIA Formula 3 feature race of the season for ART Grand Prix ahead of a charging Arthur Leclerc.
A mechanical issue for Zane Maloney caused drama on the opening lap, while track limit violations denied Franco Colapinto a debut podium.
Colapinto started the race strongly from pole position with Roman Stanek close behind before the safety car was brought out for issues further back. Maloney slowed with smoke coming out of the back of his car. Francesco Pizzi was spun around, while Caio Collet ran wide to avoid Maloney and suffered suspension damage as he returned to the track over the kerbs.
On the restart Stanek came under pressure from Alexander Smolyar and the pair made contact exiting turn 10, earning Stanek a right rear puncture. Martins had already got up to second and the top two drivers pulled away from the rest of the field.
Martins stayed behind Colapinto for most of the race, but slowly edged closer to the polesitter and finally made his move on lap 15 of 23,.
Colapinto almost held on but couldn’t retain the position and fell back into a battle with Leclerc, who stormed from 13th to third during the first half of the race.
Leclerc managed to take Colapinto at turn one a few laps later and was catching Martins, but ran out of laps before he could get close enough to make a move, Martins holding on to win by 1.5 seconds.
Colapinto held off Gregorie Saucy to take the podium on track, but a five-second penalty for exceeding track limits dropped him down to fifth, behind Juan Manuel Correa who had briefly been in the podium positions early in the race. Saucy started sixth after a three-place grid penalty for the contact with team-mate Martins that took both out of the sprint race but recovered to make the podium on his debut weekend.
Further back there was more drama for Smolyar. He fell back behind Correa and Leclerc but did a good job of defending against Isack Hadjar. The two ran side by side a number of times, but small contact between the two left Hadjar with a puncture.
Smolyar fell further back with floor damage, finishing eighth on track before a 20-second penalty shuffled him down to 23rd.
Ollie Bearman climbed up to sixth ahead of Jak Crawford, who had started 20th. David Vidales kept the pressure on Smolyar late in the race and, though he couldn’t make up the position on track, he finished eighth overall ahead of William Alatalo and Kaylen Frederick, who was another first-lap spinner.
Race result (23 laps)
|1||Victor Martins||ART Grand Prix||46m47.389s|
|3||Gregoire Saucy||ART Grand Prix||+6.812s|
|4||Juan Manuel Correa||ART Grand Prix||+9.084s|
|5||Franco Colapinto||Van Amersfoort Racing||+11.193s|
|8||David Vidales||Campos Racing||+23.004s|
|9||William Alatalo||Jenzer Motorsport||+23.665s|
|10||Kaylen Frederick||Hitech GP||+23.843s|
|12||Rafael Villagomez||Van Amersfoort Racing||+28.274s|
|13||Pepe Marti||Campos Racing||+30.194s|
|14||Hunter Yeany||Campos Racing||+33.297s|
|15||Niko Kari||Jenzer Motorsport||+35.044s|
|16||Ido Cohen||Jenzer Motorsport||+35.068s|
|17||Kush Maini||MP Motorsport||+35.111s|
|18||Reece Ushijima||Van Amersfoort Racing||+35.790s|
|20||Ayrton Simmons||Charouz Racing System||+36.792s|
|23||Alexander Smolyar||MP Motorsport||+38.795s|
|24||Laszlo Toth||Charouz Racing System||+39.952s|
|25||Isack Hadjar||Hitech GP||+49.781s|
|Ret||Nazim Azman||Hitech GP|
|Ret||Caio Collet||MP Motorsport|
|Ret||Francesco Pizzi||Charouz Racing System|
|Fastest lap: Stanek, 1m51.634s