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Ocon keeps Verstappen at bay to complete Moscow hat-trick

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
Photo: FIA Formula 3 European Championship

Photo: FIA Formula 3 European Championship

FIA F3 championship leader Esteban Ocon completed a perfect seventh round at Moscow Raceway, picking up his third win in three races.

Ocon survived two safety car restarts and managed to narrowly edge out nearest rival Max Verstappen for the victory.

The Frenchman managed a perfect getaway from the line to lead the field into turn one, with fellow front row starter Tom Blomqvist retaining second. However, the Brit was adjudged to have been overly eager on the throttle and picked up a drive through for jumping the start – as did Santino Ferrucci and Sean Gelael.

The safety car came out after a lap one incident that involved Roy Nissany and Felix Serralles – the former then had to endure a lengthy visit to the pits, while the latter ended up accidentally running over his own broken front wing.

When the race went back to green, Ocon established a good lead over Blomqvist, who waited the full three laps to take the drive through. When the Brit finally came in, Verstappen assumed second and set out after Ocon.

The Dutchman seemed to have the better pace of the duo and began rapidly closing in on Ocon when another safety car period was called. This time, it was due to a collision between Jordan King and Lucas Auer, which took place when Auer overtook the Carlin driver for fifth and then forced him off-track on his subsequent attempt to get the spot back.

The lengthy clean-up meant that there’d be only one green flag lap remaining. The restart proved much closer this time as Verstappen tried to find his way around Ocon’s outside in the final corner and ran wide, rejoining side-by-side with the Frenchman and subsequently making slight contact.

Ocon then retook the lead into turn one and held on for the rest of the lap, securing his eighth victory and forcing Verstappen to settle for second.

Antonio Fuoco finished a clean and quiet race in third, ahead of Jake Dennis and Felix Rosenqvist.

Dennis van de Laar was sixth, ahead of a recovering Blomqvist and Tatiana Calderon, who recorded her third points finish in the series.

Hector Hurst and Antonio Giovinazzi rounded out the points, both inheriting a place when Nicholas Latifi came to a stop at T13 during the restart.

Race results
Pos Driver? Team Time/Gap
1 Esteban Ocon Prema Powerteam 21 laps in 36:08.124
2 Max Verstappen Van Amersfoort Racing +0.691
3 Antonio Fuoco Prema Powerteam +1.202
4 Jake Dennis Carlin +1.918
5 Felix Rosenqvist Mucke Motorsport +2.371
6 Dennis van de Laar Prema Powerteam +2.824
7 Tom Blomqvist Jagonya Ayam with Carlin +3.502
8 Tatiana Calderon Jo Zeller Racing +4.094
9 Hector Hurst Team West-Tec +5.525
10 Antonio Giovinazzi Jagonya Ayam with Carlin +6.230
11 Sean Gelael Jagonya Ayam with Carlin +6.991
12 Gustavo Menezes Van Amersfoort Racing +8.582
13 Jules Szymkowiak Van Amersfoort Racing +8.776
14 Santino Ferrucci EuroInternational +9.175
15 Michele Beretta EuroInternational +9.665
16 Roy Nissany Mucke Motorsport +1 lap
17 Nicholas Latifi Prema Powerteam +2 laps
Not classified
Lucas Auer Mucke Motorsport +5 laps
Jordan King Carlin +5 laps
Felix Serralles Team West-Tec +21 laps