German David Beckmann claimed his second win in eight days after a dominating display at Monza, winning by 6.018 seconds ahead of championship leader Anthoine Hubert.
Beckmann, who won from pole last weekend at Spa, dominated the race with ease in mixed conditions that started wet but dried by the end of the 22 lap race. It was also a win on home soil for the Italian Trident squad. ART’s Anthoine Hubert extended his championship lead with second from rival Callum Ilott in third.
Light rain was still falling onto the wet track as the drivers lined up on the grid for the opening GP3 race of the weekend meaning slipstream would be less crucial that normal at Monza. The sun was beginning to break through as the formation lap begun leaving the drivers knowing the track would probably dry as the race progressed.
As the lights went out, Beckmann got the perfect start from pole position for the second time in a week and cut across to defend from Anthoine Hubert. This left a space to the outside for Leonardo Pulcini to attack but as the Italian reached the braking area, he locked up his brakes on the puddle gathered on the outside of the track and skated straight on at the first chicane. Hubert, Juan Manuel Correa, Tatiana Calderon and Simo Laaksonen all ran through the escape road on lap one whilst the leader Beckmann also struggled to slow the car, escaping over the savage ‘sausage’ kerbs used to stop any corner cutting. All three MP Motorsport cars followed suit.
So as the chaos of the first corner was left in the background, it was Beckmann leading from Pulcini and Hubert as they headed for the second chicane, which Pulcini again cut across the escape route. Meanwhile, behind the leading three, Jenzer Motorsport were pulling their hair out. Correa and Calderon had rejoined in fourth and fifth but the pair touched under braking, leaving Correa spinning off.
As the cars crossed the line to end the first lap, the order read Beckmann, Hubert, Pulcini, Calderon, Ilott and ART’s Nikita Mazepin, who had a superb first lap after starting from 11th on the grid.
Ilott made it passed Calderon as the Colombian ran straight on at turn one for the second race in a row but almost in the same moment, Mazepin gained another place by overtaking team-mate Ilott. A great start for the Russian but he continued to struggle to slow the car down in the brakes.
Heading back to the front, Beckmann continued to extend his lead with continuous fastest laps ahead of Hubert. By the time the race settled at the end of lap six, the leader had a four second lead over the championship leader. Pulcini continued to run third ahead of Mazepin, who had cut the first chicane for at least the fourth time as he defended from Ilott. A five-second time was handed out by the stewards for Niko Kari due to gaining an advantage off the circuit and that was not expected to be the only one consider the number of cars taking to the escape roads.
Campos Racing’s Simo Laaksonen had gained seven places by this stage of the race and now approached the rear of the Pulcini queue in sixth but it was Ilott who made the move next as Mazepin ran wide again, dipping a wheel in the gravel and allowing the Brit to drive around the outside of the corner.
Meanwhile, Kari continued to push to negate his penalty but made a mistake trying to pass Calderon. The Finn ran wide allowing Calderon, Pedro Piquet and Richard Verschoor to make their way past. As the group started lap 13, Piquet made his move for eighth and reverse grid pole on Calderon, making his move at turn one. Verschoor was caught out by the move, losing the front of his nose cone on the back of Calderon’s Jenzer.
As the track had dried throughout most of the circuit, Calderon started to struggle leaving the MP Motorsport cars of Verschoor and Kari to pass her into the Ascari Chicane, whilst the fourth ART of Jake Hughes made his move into the Parabolica.
The ART’s of Mazepin and Ilott continued to battle but another off road moment for Mazepin, left the Russian having to defend hard fro Laaksonen.
With four laps to go, the Campos of Diego Menchaca was sent spinning off under braking for the first chicane after being hit from behind by MP Motorsport’s Devlin Defrancesco. With Menchaca off the road, the virtual safety car was set at exactly the same time Laaksonen made his move into Ascari on Mazepin. The Finn made it through, only to give the place back on the exit after being unsure whether the pass was made by the time the virtual safety car had come out.
Not surprisingly Defrancesco was handed a five second penalty for causing a collision.
The dry line had now emerged with two laps to go but it was heartbreak for home favourite Leonardo Pulcini as the Italian slowed after the first chicane with an mechanical issue. This allowed Ferrari Young Academy driver Ilott to jump up on to the podium and promoted Verschoor to eighth and reverse grid pole.
The battle for fourth had not finished as Laaksonen continued to attack Mazepin through the final corner. This continued down the main straight but Mazepin braked late, again running wide and having to concede the advantage and position to the Finn.
It was a second straight Saturday win for David Beckmann, who also won from pole at Spa. It was also a victory on home soil for the Trident squad. Second went to championship leader Anthoine Hubert, who extends his lead in the championship to 29 points over team-mate Callum Ilott, who rounded out the podium with third.
Fourth went to Simo Laaksonen after the Finn started in 13th on the grid ahead of Nikita Mazepin and the second Trident of Guiliano Alesi. The third Trident car of Pedro Piquet will start on the front row tomorrow after finishing seventh and Richard Verschoor finished in eighth meaning he will start from pole position tomorrow for his fourth ever GP3 race. The fourth ART of Jake Hughes and MP motorsport’s Niko Kari, after his penalty, rounded out the top ten.
The fastest lap of the race went to Juan Manuel Correa after he made a late pit stop for slick tyres but after finishing 17th, the American will not get the bonus points that goes with the fastest lap as you must be in the top ten to score the bounds points.