Zak O’Sullivan claimed his first Feature Race win in a closely-fought battle around the Red Bull Ring. As many as four different drivers held the lead at various stages but it was the PREMA Racing man that kept his foes at bay in the end.
Trident’s Gabriel Bortoleto picked up vital Championship points with his P2 finish to strengthen his lead to 36 points, while Caio Collet made it back-to-back P3 finishes for Van Amersfoort Racing.
AS IT HAPPENED
Grégoire Saucy held onto pole from lights out while Bortoleto had to fend off pressure from Paul Aron to keep hold of third. Further back, Gabriele Minì had slight contact at with Luke Browning at Turn 4. The #15 Hitech Pulse-Eight driver was sent across the gravel and was left out of the race. It prompted a Safety Car on Lap 2.
Racing got back underway entering Lap 5 with Saucy able to build up a small gap to Dino Beganovic behind him. The ART driver couldn’t escape the one-second DRS window though, and the Swede was through for P1 on Lap 7 under braking at Turn 4. Like Saucy though, without DRS, he was unable to break away and the top five were separated by under two seconds. Aron made a late dive down the inside of Bortoleto at Turn 3 to take third position on Lap 10.
One lap later and he tried the same on Saucy but had no room to make it stick. The pair made the slightest of contact and it resulted in a puncture for the Swiss, tumbling down the order after a necessary pit stop. Aron dropped behind Bortoleto and O’Sullivan to fourth with front wing damage.
In the fight for the lead, Bortoleto was able to slipstream his way past Beganovic for P1 into Turn 4 on Lap 13, while Aron was finally forced to pit for a new front wing. Teammate O’Sullivan was the next to make a DRS pass, demoting Beganovic to third.
The Briton wasn’t finished, diving down the inside of Bortoleto to take the lead. Franco Colapinto got himself involved in the podium fight with a sweep all the way around the outside of Beganovic to take third in his MP Motorsport car. Further back, Caio Collet and Sebastián Montoya made progress up the top 10, passing Kaylen Frederick to take fifth and sixth places.
Mari Boya was the next through on the ART driver, taking seventh position on the way up to Turn 3 with DRS on Lap 17. The American tried to fight it back and the two made contact at Turn 5. It left both with front wing damage and the pair were in for repairs at the end of the lap.
Collet continued his push up the top 10, passing Beganovic with a late dive into Turn 3. Montoya followed through for P5 with a brave move around the outside of the Swede at Turn 7, even after dipping two wheels into the gravel before corner entry. The Colombian wasn’t done there, as he overtook Collet for fourth on Lap 23, diving to the inside at Turn 4 to pass the Van Amersfoort driver.
Onto the final lap and the top five were covered by just two seconds. O’Sullivan held on for his first Feature Race win ahead of Bortoleto, but there was last lap drama in the battle for the final podium spot. Montoya was side-by-side with Colapinto, but the pair made contact at Turn 6. It allowed Collet to sneak through for the final podium place ahead of the Argentinian.
Beganovic was fifth ahead of Jonny Edgar, Christian Mansell, Hugh Barter and Sophia Floersch, who captured PHM Racing by Charouz’s first points in FIA Formula 3 from 20th on the grid. Montoya fell to 10th in the end after his final lap clash with Colapinto.
KEY QUOTE – Zak O’Sullivan, PREMA Racing
“An amazing win, I didn’t expect that one. The pace was really good throughout, I think across the board tyre degradation was quite high, so I managed to get to the lead and then it was fighting to stay out front trying to break the DRS every lap. Thanks to PREMA, the car was really good, and I think overall it’s been a positive weekend for us.”
THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
Gabriel Bortoleto becomes the first driver to break the 100-point barrier, and the Trident driver’s tally of 111 points puts him 36 clear of second-placed Dino Beganovic. Victory promotes Zak O’Sullivan to third, tied on 73 points with Josep María Martí and two points behind his PREMA Racing teammate. Gabriele Minì drops back to fifth on 65, ahead of Paul Aron on countback.
PREMA Racing’s advantage at the top of the Teams’ Championship extends to 43 points, with the Italian outfit on 213 to Trident’s 170. Hitech Pulse-Eight remain third, with 129 points.
FIA Formula 3 is back in action right away with Round 7 from Silverstone. Gabriel Bortoleto still leads the Drivers’ Championship but which of his rivals can take the fight to him next time out?