Leonardo Puccini denied Championship leaders PREMA a win for the second round in a row, edging out Robert Shwartzman for his first taste of champagne this season, with a blistering drive in Race 2.
The Russian racer made a late charge through the field, but could only rise as high as second, coming unstuck against the dominant Italian who secured his team’s second victory at Silverstone. Reverse grid poleman Liam Lawson completed the top three to earn his first podium in FIA Formula 3.
Lawson had gotten away cleanly at the start, with Pedro Piquet and Christian Lundgaard busy squabbling amongst themselves for P2. Pulcini made the best beginning of the lot, lunging ahead of Shwartzman midway through the first lap for 4th, while the Russian took air on the curb.
It was not a strong start for the Russian who also caught the tail of Race 1 winner Jüri Vips and lost further momentum. Pulcini already had his eyes on a provisional podium spot but would need two attempts to race round Lundgaard, making the second one stick at the final turn.
The Italian arrowed in on Lawson, but carefully calculated his move and patiently waited in the Kiwi’s shadow. The opportunity arose on lap 9 and he seared to the right of the MP Motorsport man and comfortably completed the move. His team urged him to build a 1s gap and then concentrate on his degrading rubber.
“I’m a little bit disappointed, when you start from pole you want to win but realistically, where we are at the moment that was always going to be very hard,” explained the 17-year-old New Zealander. “I drove the race of my life trying to hang in there and early on, with Piquet behind, I thought our pace was similar and I could hold him off but when Shwartzman and the rest arrived they blew past him and I was in trouble.
“The problem is that we are down on pace and after five laps we have no pace. It’s a shame because we had the best qualifying of the year so far. The team did a great job and I put in a good lap but especially here the pace was just gone after five laps,” stated the MP Motorsport driver.
“That was Race 1, hanging on and not being able to go forward. Today we made changes hoping to improve things but we were still in the same situation, no pace after 5 laps. We’ve got to work on that, get more radical and find some answers.
“But still, on the podium after a hard fought race is a good feeling. It was a dramatic end, it almost all came undone. Piquet tried again to pass and I held him off, I wondered if he would back out of it or crash and he backed out so we got third and then someone else took him out,” added Lawson who moved up to 10th in the points table.
The three PREMAs were locked in tussle for 5th, but Shwartzman put a stop to the fight with an overtake on Lundgaard at the exit of Chapel which wobbled the Dane and allowed Jehan Daruvala to follow on through.
Having been stuck in 5th for the majority of the race, Shwartzman swiftly followed up his first move and blistered past Piquet for third, with his eyes locked on Lawson in P2. The overtake duly arrived around the outside of Stowe, completing an awesome couple of laps for the PREMA man and a remarkable turn-around.
His charge ended there as Pulcini had managed to fire 4s ahead, with just two laps to go. Action continued further back when Piquet and Lawson went wheel-to-wheel: the Trident man edged ahead and looked to have nailed down the position, but the Kiwi regained the spot thanks to slick defending moves. Daruvala added his name to the fight for third and clipped the back of the Brazilian as he backed off, sending Piquet into a spin and ending his race.
Pulcini held on come the chequered flag for his maiden win of the campaign, ahead of the resurgent Shwartzman and 17-year-old Lawson. Marcus Armstrong and Lundgaard completed the top five, followed by David Beckmann, Yuki Tsunoda and Fabio Scherer.
“I got a good start, better than yesterday, and then got run a little wide by Robert (Shwartzman), commented Armstrong. “I lost a position to Jehan and then the race was in formation because we all had a similar pace and it’s difficult to go forwards when you have two Prema teammates in front of you.
“In the end, I got lucky with two drivers crashing in front and then I overtook Lungaard. I had clear space on the last lap and the car was really strong, we had so much pace and it has been disappointing not to finish on the podium. Anyway, that’s racing and we will get back strong next time.”
Shwartzman’s podium finish hands him back the lead in the drivers’ championship on 114 points, 12 ahead of Daruvala. Vips is third on 92, ahead of Marcus Armstrong on 77 and Piquet on 43. PREMA Racing still lead the teams’ championship on 293 points, with Hitech Grand Prix second on 127. ART Grand Prix sit third with 92, followed by Trident on 58 and HWA RACELAB on 41.
Action will resume at the end of July as the grid head to Hungary where Hitech will aim to continue their pursuit of PREMA Racing, who will be desperate to pick up the pace again at the Hungaroring.
FIA Formula 3 Championship – Round 4 Race 2 classification
|1||Leonardo Pulcini||Hitech Grand Prix|
|2||Robert Shwartzman||PREMA Racing|
|3||Liam Lawson||MP Motorsport|
|4||Marcus Armstrong||PREMA Racing|
|5||Christian Lundgaard||ART Grand Prix|
|6||David Beckmann||ART Grand Prix|
|7||Yuki Tsunoda||Jenzer Motorsport|
|8||Fabio Scherer||Sauber Junior Team by Charouz|
|9||Lirim Zendeli||Sauber Junior Team by Charouz|
|10||Felipe Drugovich||Carlin Buzz Racing|
|11||Ye Yifei||Hitech Grand Prix|
|12||Max Fewtrell||ART Grand Prix|
|13||Juri Vips||Hitech Grand Prix|
|14||Logan Sargeant||Carlin Buzz Racing|
|15||Sebastian Fernandez||Campos Racing|
|16||Teppei Natori||Carlin Buzz Racing|
|18||Raoul Hyman||Sauber Junior Team by Charouz|
|20||Bent Viscaal||HWA RACELAB|
|21||Richard Verschoor||MP Motorsport|
|22||Andreas Estner||Jenzer Motorsport|
|23||Federico Malvestiti||Jenzer Motorsport|
|24||Simo Laaksonen||MP Motorsport|
|25||Alessio Deledda||Campos Racing|
|26||Keyvan Andres||HWA RACELAB|
|28||Jehan Daruvala||PREMA Racing|
|Jake Hughes||HWA RACELAB|
|Alex Peroni||Campos Racing|
|OVERALL FASTEST LAP|
|Robert Shwartzman (PREMA Racing) – 1:46.203 on Lap 19|
|FASTEST LAP ELIGIBLE FOR POINTS|
|Robert Shwartzman (PREMA Racing)|
Championship Points – Top 10.
- Shwartzman 114 points
- Jehan Daruvala (Prema Racing) 102 points
- Juri Vips (Hitech Grand Prix) 92
- Armstrong 77
- Piquet 42
- Max Fewtrell (ART Grand Prix) 37
- Lundgaard 36
- Pulcini 35
- Hughes 31
- Liam Lawson 22