British driver Callum Ilott controlled the reverse grid race from pole position to claim his first victory in GP3 in only his third race in the series.
The ART driver lost the lead after an electric start by Pedro Piquet from third on the grid but regained it in the opening lap and never looked back, controlling the gap and his tyres to win by 3.4 seconds and secure ART’s third win of the weekend at their home circuit after Hubert’s win in GP3 and George Russell’s F2 victory on Saturday.
The electric start by Piquet saw him first pass Mawson and then challenging Ilott into turn one. This left him on the outside of turn two but Piquet found the grip and swept around the outside of the ART. The lead only lasted half a lap for Piquet as Ilott closed through the Signes corner and took an alternative line on the inside of Double Droite de Beausset to claim the lead, a lead he never relinquished. There was only one mistake by the British driver as he ran wide on lap two into turn three but recovered safely to the circuit ahead of the Brazilian.
Piquet never had the pace to threaten Ilott for the win but came home in a quiet second place for a maiden podium, holding the gap throughout to one of the drivers of the weekend and another maiden podium visitor in Joey Mawson.
Arden International had a disappointing time in the opening round but Mawson seemed to find something this weekend that his team-mates did not and, after finishing in ninth (seventh after the MP Motorsport disqualifications) in the Feature race, he showed it was not a one off with an impressive drive to third and well deserved podium. A huge boost for the Australian.
Alessio Lorandi had to fight off the attentions of first, his Trident team-mate Giuliano Alesi early in the race, and then Nikita Mazepin late on to score a strong fourth place. The Italian, nursing a shoulder injury that he received before the weekend begun, seemed to struggle late on, possibly with fitness, but showed the grit to defend well and keep his position. ART’s Mazepin bounced back this weekend from a poor reverse grid race in Spain to take fifth today along with his podium yesterday and now sits comfortable second in the points, 14 points behind championship leader and ART team-mate Anthoine Hubert.
Barcelona reverse grid race winner Giuliano Alesi had a quiet race on a Sunday for once. After challenging team-mate Lorandi early on, the Frenchman lost a position to the Russian, Mazepin, but never looked like dropping further down the order. A solid points scoring weekend for the son of former Grand Prix winner, Jean.
Championship leader Anthoine Hubert only gained one place from his starting position, not helped by the cancellation of DRS for the second race running, but showed his championship thoughts by backing off with a lap to go and taking the fastest lap on the final lap to score a valuable extra two points. Hubert was lucky to get away with no damage after contact with team-mate Jake Hughes under braking for turn one on lap four. The British driver was not so lucky as his disappointing season continued as he had to pit for a new front wing and finished
down in 17th after setting a string of fastest laps himself on new tyres.
Campos scored the final point of the race as Leonardo Pulcini brought the car home in eighth place, just ahead of the American Ryan Tveter, who had earlier pulled off the perfect switch-back overtake on Juan Manuel Correa at the end of the long back straight. After a terrible time in Barcelona, Tveter looked more on the pace that is expected in France and will look to carry the momentum forward to score his first points of the season in Austria next weekend.
MP Motorsport’s weekend did not get any better after the disqualifications of yesterday’s winner Dorian Boccolacci and fifth placed Niko Kari. Kari retired with a puncture, possibly from the debris from Hughes’ front wing, whilst Boccolacci showed none of yesterday’s pace and struggled to come through the field, with his 16-year-old team-mate and debutant Christian Lundgaard getting the better of him in a late race battle. This was due to be a one-off outing for Lundgaard as a replacement for Will Palmer but the Dane impressed throughout the weekend considering it was his first time in the car and the team will be looking to try and keep him in the car for next weekend.
In the championship, Callum Ilott moves up to fourth in the points behind Alesi, whilst Hubert continues to lead. Piquet’s podium moves him up to sixth ahead of Boccolacci whilst Joey Mawson moves up to ninth in the points after scoring Arden’s first points of the season this weekend.