Anthoine Hubert enjoyed a clean lead to take victory at his home event.
Yesterday’s Feature Race at the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet was scene to a buffet of drama. Among them being the two PREMA drivers crashing each other out. Sean Gelael was found guilty of the impact and he began from the pit lane in today’s Sprint Race. Callum Ilott also tapped out of the Feature Race during a battle with Nobuharu Matsushita. It was Nyck de Vries who came out on top to lead the Championship. Native Anthoine Hubert finished 8th, meaning he was all nice and set to start from pole for the Sprint Race.
And Hubert capitalized on his grid position, making a surging start off the line. Down into Turn 1, it was an all-British battle for P2 between Jordan King and Jack Aitken. However, King went wide and off the road, having to rejoin behind Aitken who took second. Nicholas Latifi made a great response to take P3 as King dropped back further. Juan Manuel Correa didn’t let Latifi hold on for long as he snatched third from the Canadian driver.
A lock-up from Latifi cost him ground, as Guanyu Zhou ever gaining on the pace, past him out on Lap 4. Zhou continuing to show impressive pace and overtakes during this weekend.
The position for P2 heated up on Lap 6 as Correa went around the inside of Aitken to overtake him. Aitken continued to chase after Correa down the straight before Turn 10, and went all four-wheels off the track attempting to win back his position. Aitken simply didn’t have the pace to get back the position. He also avoided a possible investigation from the stewards by letting Correa ahead. Zhou continued to creep up, and outpaced Aitken who fell again to fourth.
Meanwhile, Matsushita lost places after going wide in an attempt to overtake King in eighth. A very late lunge from Louis Delétraz stole the position from King, who continued to push up the hill into Turn 10. But Delétraz just had more momentum to win out. De Vries in P7, had Delétraz to keep an eye on.
Yesterday’s pole sitter Sérgio Sette Câmara, made a move to finally lead his team mate Latifi and take P5 on Lap 14. A small mistake from Latifi made this move possible. Latifi quickly retaliated, trying to get the position back. But Sette Câmara’s late break secured his position. The duel of the DAMS drivers wasn’t over yet, as Latifi went side-by-side with his team mate on the outside of the Signes corner. But the inside line guaranteed Sette Câmara’s victory in this duel.
Mick Schumacher picked up a puncture on Lap 16, and pitted for fresh tyres. But his race ended as he came to a halt on track. This ended what can only be said was a miserable weekend for the German driver.
All this time, the Carlin of Delétraz was indeed gaining up on de Vries, who temporarily lost the position. Very late on the breaks and running wide, Delétraz was sent back to eighth with de Vries still holding onto his spot. But blink, and you’ll have missed Delétraz once again going for another shot around the final corner. With the DRS detection zone ahead of that corner, he ultimately won P7 from de Vries at the start of Lap 17.
This left de Vries vulnerable to Ilott and Matsushita, with Ilott going down the inside of Turn 10 to send de Vries further back a place. And he got pushed back even more as Matsushita over took to win P9. Meanwhile Tatiana Calderón lost the rear at Turn 11 and became the second retirement of the race.
Virtually unchallenged from the very beginning, it was Anthoine Hubert who took victory at his home event. Correa in second and Zhou in third rounded up an all-rookie podium. De Vries still takes the Championship lead by only by 12 points from Latifi.
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