BREAKING NEWS: BOCCOLACCI AND KARI DISQUALIFIED; HUBERT CLAIMS WIN
MP Motorsport’s Dorian Boccolacci scored the team’s first GP3 victory with a dominant lights to flag victory in front of his home crowd at Le Castellet.
The 19-year-old Boccolacci produced the perfect start to take the lead from ART’s Anthoine Hubert on the opening lap and he never looked back to claim his second career win in GP3 and the first for the Dutch squad in only their third race.
The two Frenchmen pulled away at the front of the field in the overcast conditions with Boccolacci creating a comfortable lead within a few laps. The win was never in doubt for the MP Motorsport driver during the race but the Frenchman was lucky to even make the start. As the cars pulled away for the formation lap, Boccolacci stalled and, after a couple of attempts, he got the car running again before all the drivers had left the grid and was able to retake his pole position.
Anthoine Hubert tried his best, closing the gap to six tenths by the end of the race but the Frenchman had to settle for another second place, his third out of three races this season. The pressure for his first win is building for the 21-year-old but this result does extend his championship lead to seven points over his closest rival, which is now Boccolacci.
Russian Nikita Mazepin continued his strong start to the season with a second podium of the season after his win in Barcelona. The Force India test driver pressured Giuliano Alesi in the early stages and made his move on lap four round the outside into the chicane on the Mistral straight and left Alesi to deal with the flying Niko Kari and Leonardo Pulcini. Trident’s Alesi managed to hold off the battling duo throughout the race, possibly with the help of DRS being cancelled for the rest of the race from lap seven, for reasons that are yet to be explained.
MP Motorsport showed how competitive they are this season with Kari claiming fifth place and aided by the use of DRS in the early stages before it was cancelled. Pulcini was disappointed to have to settle for sixth in his Campos after starting in fifth but the battle between Kari and Pulcini was one of the early entertainment of the race. The two swapped positions throughout the 20 laps while still keeping the pressure on fourth placed Alesi.
Trident will fill the front row of tomorrow’s reverse grid race after Alessio Lorandi and Pedro Piquet picked up some important points with seventh and eighth, meaning three of the four cars finished inside the top eight for the Italian squad. A good opportunity for the team to score a second straight Sprint race victory after team-mate Alesi won the same race in Barcelona.
The battle for ninth was the highlight of the race. Arden International did not have the best of times at the opening round in Spain but Joey Mawson showed strong pace all weekend and impressed with his race craft as he had to defend for the whole of the second half of the race from the disappointing ART’s of Callum Ilott and Jake Hughes. Both British drivers would have expected to finish a lot higher in the opening race this weekend to kick start their championship challenges but both struggled to pass Australian Mawson, who defended superbly. Ilott even tried around the outside of the famous Signes corner a number of times in the closing laps but Mawson held the inside line and the position to score his first GP3 points. Ilott held on through the final corners to pip his team-mate Hughes and Juan Manuel Correa to claim the final point.
Jenzer Motorsport’s Correa had a drama filled last few laps. As Correa caught the group behind Mawson, Correa awaited for Tatiana Calderon to attempt a move on Hughes and dived into the Mistral chicane, spinning out Calderon. After a tough weekend so far, the collision was not needed for the Swiss squad. Correa attempted to claim the final point for the team in the last lap but only managed to pass Hughes after forcing the British driver wide on the final corner. The American will be looking for a quieter race on Sunday.
16-year-old Christian Lundgaard drove a mature race on his GP3 debut for MP Motorsport, replacing British driver Will Palmer, coming home in 14th place and at the back of the tight group battling for ninth.