Victor Martins put the disappointment of an early retirement in yesterday’s Sprint Race well and truly behind him, putting on a dominant display to secure his second win of the Formula 3 season. The ART Grand Prix driver seized the lead into the opening corner and didn’t look back, controlling the pace despite two Safety Car restarts.
Pole-sitter Roman Stanek put up a strong defence throughout to keep Isack Hadjar at bay for second. Alexander Smolyar brought home another solid haul of points in fourth, ahead of PREMA Racing’s Oliver Bearman and Jak Crawford.
Caio Collet survived a late charge from Franco Colapinto to finish seventh, as Kaylen Frederick hung on for ninth. Meanwhile, Juan Manuel Correa faced an action-packed three-way duel with Arthur Leclerc and Grégoire Saucy during the closing stages to snatch the final points-paying position in P10.
AS IT HAPPENED
Off the back of achieving his maiden F3 pole position in Friday’s Qualifying, Stanek was joined on the front row by Martins. The Trident driver got a decent start off the line, but he had no defence for Martins. Tactically, the ART driver tucked into the pole-sitter's slipstream, fully committing to an early move to swoop around the outside of Turn 1 for the lead.
A solid getaway allowed Hadjar to hop into P3, as Leclerc was swallowed up at the start dropping down the order from P5. The PREMA driver suddenly found himself going side-by-side with Sprint Race winner David Vidales for ninth.
Out front, Martins looked to be untroubled, beginning to pull over seven-tenths clear of Stanek after the opening lap. In the fight for second, Hadjar was putting Stanek under pressure, with Smolyar keeping close to the pair.
However, Martins’ advantage was soon undone on Lap 4 when the Safety Car was brought out to recover Van Amersfoort Racing’s Rafael Villagómez from the wall at Turn 4. With the Safety Car heading back into the pits four laps later, Martins didn’t hesitate to put his foot to the floor early into the final chicane, nailing an excellent restart to pull a sizeable gap from Stanek behind.
The restart didn’t go as well for Frederick, as Crawford dived down the inside of his fellow American for sixth and Collet soon followed him through.
Racing was brought to a halt once again on Lap 11 after Carlin’s Brad Benavides discovered the wall at Turn 2. In a near identical restart, Martins got things back underway, pulling away from Stanek and Hadjar.
In the battle for ninth, Leclerc and Vidales banged wheels, sending the pair off track. While the PREMA was able to recover, the Campos suffered damage to his right rear tyre and was sent tumbling down the order, promoting Colapinto up to ninth and Correa to 10th.
Determined to fight his way back into the points, Leclerc began hunting down Saucy ahead, sticking closely to his side through the first series of corners to climb back into 11th. However, with a five-second time penalty hanging over him for causing a collision with Vidales, he began putting the pressure on Correa ahead.
Running over the grass, an unconventional move from Leclerc saw him re-join the track ahead of Correa, before slowing down significantly at the final chicane, allowing the ART driver back through and giving Saucy an opportunity to have a look.
As the final laps drew to a close, Stanek was once again on the defensive, keeping an eye on his wing mirrors for Hadjar behind. Having steadily climbed his way into the points, Colapinto’s late charge from P12 saw him overtake Frederick for eighth and challenge Collet all the way to the chequered flag.
However, nobody could come close to Martins, who crossed the finish line 2.4s clear of Stanek, with the Hitech of Hadjar rounding out the podium.
KEY QUOTE: Victor Martins, ART Grand Prix
“Second win of the year – this one feels good after yesterday with the issue. It’s good to bounce back with a victory. ART deserve it, I had a mega car. I was just managing the race and we took the win.”
THE CHAMPIONSHIP VIEW
Victory promotes Victor Martins back into the lead of the Drivers’ Championship on 62 points. Another solid weekend of results moves Roman Stanek up into second on 56, six points clear of Red Bull junior Jak Crawford. Isack Hadjar is in fourth with 47 points, and Arthur Leclerc completes the top five on 43.
PREMA Racing retain their hold at the top of the Teams’ Championship on 120 points. ART Grand Prix remain second on 98, ahead of Trident on 75. Hitech Grand Prix are fourth on 63, with MP Motorsport fifth on 56 points.
Formula 3 returns to the track in just over a month’s time, as the fourth round of the Championship heads to Silverstone from July 1-3.