Jake Hughes clinched victory in an epic Italian race two thriller from Liam Lawson as the three leading title contenders endured a torrid race.
Lirim Zendeli initially clinched the lead at the start from Enzo Fittipaldi with the pair battling hard throughout the opening stages, until Zendeli accidentally punctured the Brazilian’s left rear tyre on lap eight to send him plummeting down the order.
Lawson consequently inherited the lead with a move into Della Roggia until Hughes got past at the start of lap ten, whilst championship leader, Oscar Piastri got spun out by Clement Novalak to elevate title rival, Logan Sargeant up to fifth.
Various battles then ensued until lap 19 when Race One winner, Frederik Vesti punctured Sargeant’s right rear tyre to bring their races to a premature end and finish a nightmare race for Prema.
Hughes therefore comfortably took a clinical win from Lawson with Theo Pourchaire rounding out the podium ahead of; Aleksandr Smolyar, Zendeli, Alex Peroni, Pierre-Louis Chovet, Roman Stanek, Olli Caldwell and Richard Verschoor who complete the top ten.
Piastri retains the championship lead from Sargeant heading into the final round at Mugello where a maximum of 48 points are on offer, with Lawson and Pourchaire now within 26 points of the Prema duo and within a shot of snatching the title.
David Beckmann who began the race sat third in the championship meanwhile has a outside chance of taking the crown next weekend despite being 36.5 points behind Piastri.
Reverse-pole sitter, Michael Belov got a clean start alongside Fittipaldi but Zendeli got a slipstream from fourth and dived to the inside line upon entry to Variante as Belov locked up to allow Fittipaldi to sweep around the outside into second behind Zendeli who claimed the lead.
Zendeli and Fittipaldi soon began scrapping for the lead whilst further down the order, Theo Pourchaire ran wide on exit of Della Roggia to slide down the order to 18th position.
Fittipaldi got the lead on lap five with a outside sweeping move through Della Roggia, only for Zendeli to reclaim the lead a lap later on the run to Variante, as Belov conceded sixth to Vesti after sliding down the pack.
Beckmann’s race was ended on lap seven after he ran wide at Della Roggia into the gravel trap, causing a puncture which saw him fall from fifth into retirement as he crawled back to the pits. Stewards however determined that Piastri was at fault and hit the Aussie with a five place grid drop for Race One in Mugello next weekend.
Zendeli meanwhile continued to battle Fittipaldi for the lead and tried an outside move into Variante on lap eight, accidentally clipping Fittipaldi’s left-rear tyre to ruin the Brazilian’s race, although he did recover to finish 20th after pitting for fresh tyres as Lawson took the lead into Della Roggia from Zendeli with an outside sweeping move.
Piastri meanwhile kept pace with the front runners but found himself tagged by Novalak through Variante on lap 10 to send him spinning out of the race with Schumacher another casualty in the incident, as Novalak retired a lap later in the pits and was hit with a five place grid drop for the opening race at Mugello next weekend as punishment.
Hughes however had passed Lawson into that corner just seconds earlier to clinch the lead which he held to the flag whilst various battles unfolded behind him as he built a circa two second lead over Lawson in the closing stages.
Sargeant had started in 26th position on the grid but had worked his way up to fifth by lap 10 as a consequence of Piastri’s incident which caused a brief virtual safety car, only to find himself scrapping with Bent Viscaal upon the restart before eventually catching up to Zendeli and Vesti, of whom he consistently scrapped with.
Zendeli eventually found his way past Sargeant on lap 18 at Della Roggia for fourth with Pourchaire following through on the exit and both eventually got Vesti at Variante and the first Lesmo curve respectively on the next lap, leaving the Dane in Sargeant’s clutches on the run to Ascari when Vesti made contact with Sargeant’s right rear as the American moved passed him upon entry to the corner.
Stewards however adjudged Sargeant as the driver at fault and served the American a three place grid penalty for the first race at Mugello next weekend for failing to correctly judge his distance from Vesti when pulling across to claim the racing line at the end of his overtake.
Sargeant soon retired at the end of that lap whilst Vesti carried on with a broken front wing as Pourchaire eventually got Zendeli for third just one lap from the flag with Aleksandr Smolyar suddenly following through with a move on the final lap into Variante, demoting the German to fifth.
Peroni finished sixth ahead of Chovet who scored his first-ever F3 points as did Stanek in eighth whilst Caldwell claimed ninth ahead of Verschoor who just beat Viscaal to the final point at the line.
Post Race Penalties
Lawson was handed a 10 second time penalty for forcing Lirim Zendeli off track at Turn One on lap nine, after stewards decided that the Aussie didn’t leave room for Zendeli when making an overtake which consequently drops Lawson from second to seventh in the classification and behind Pourchaire in the drivers’ championship.
Viscaal was disqualified from the race result after a breach of parc ferme regulations when a MP Motorsport team member reattached Viscaal’s steering wheel without permission from a technical delegate whilst de-pressurising the fuel cell as was authorised to do. Everyone who finished 12th and below have consequently been promoted a position in the final standings.
|1||Jake Hughes||HWA Racelab||22||37m 52.033|
|2||Theo Pourchaire||ART GP||22||+ 4.252|
|3||Aleksandr Smolyar||ART GP||22||+ 4.661|
|4||Lirim Zendeli||Trident||22||+ 5.400|
|5||Alex Peroni||Trident||22||+ 8.459|
|6||Pierre-Louis Chovet||Hitech GP||22||+ 8.660|
|7||Liam Lawson||Hitech GP||22||+ 11.841|
|8||Roman Stanek||Charouz||22||+ 12.123|
|9||Olli Caldwell||Trident||22||+ 13.783|
|10||Richard Verschoor||MP Motorsport||22||+ 15.117|
|11||Sebastian Fernandez||ART GP||22||+ 16.347|
|12||Sophia Floersch||Campos||22||+ 23.261|
|13||Michael Belov||Charouz||22||+ 23.660|
|14||Federico Malvestiti||Jenzer||22||+ 24.101|
|15||Dennis Hauger||Hitech GP||22||+ 25.176|
|16||Cameron Das||Carlin||22||+ 32.409|
|17||Igor Fraga||Charouz||22||+ 1m 18.518|
|18||Calan Williams||Jenzer||22||+ 1m 22.626|
|19||Enzo Fittipaldi||HWA Racelab||22||+ 1m 25.853|
|20||Matteo Nannini||Jenzer||21||+ 1 Lap|
|21||Jack Doohan||HWA Racelab||21||+ 1 Lap|
|22||Alessio Deledda||Campos||21||+ 1 Lap|
|23||Frederik Vesti||Prema||20||+ 2 Lap|
|24||Logan Sargeant||Prema||19||+ 3 Laps|
|29||Lukas Dunner||MP Motorsport||0||Damage|
|DSQ||Bent Viscaal||MP Motorsport||22||Steering Wheel|