Even the British summer couldn’t put a dampener on Round 7’s action at Silverstone. Franco Colapinto and Oliver Goethe were full of emotion as they took their spots on the top step of the podium, whilst there was another twist in the Teams’ title fight between Trident and PREMA Racing.
Having passed the halfway mark in his rookie season, it was time for Leonardo Fornaroli to show what he was made of in Qualifying. After several solid Friday performances from the Trident driver, he proved himself more than able to match up to the demanding Silverstone circuit.
With times chopping and changing, Fornaroli took charge at the midway point, going over four tenths clear. As the field swapped onto a fresh set of tyres, further improvements were quickly found, but nobody could touch the Italian driver as he lowered his personal best even further to a 1:45.520, guaranteeing his maiden pole position.
There was no doubt Trident looked rapid that weekend, as Goethe secured second and Championship leader Gabriel Bortoleto completed the top five, split by title rival Josep María Martí and his Campos Racing teammate Christian Mansell.
Unsurprisingly, the British weather threw a curveball everyone’s way as the field lined up on the grid. Despite spots of rain around the circuit, all bar Grégoire Saucy opted to stick to slicks. Reverse grid pole sitter Sebastián Montoya held firm off the line, whilst Jenzer Motorsport’s Taylor Barnard overhauled compatriot Jonny Edgar at the first corner to seize second.
The Briton’s joy was fleeting, as Colapinto wasted no time dispatching the pair down the inside of Village. However, the MP Motorsport driver couldn’t hold on to P2 for long, as a less than ideal run through Maggotts and Becketts allowed Barnard to repay the favour.
Bortoleto was also pilling on the pressure, tactically position his car into Vale, forcing Gabriele Minì into an error that allowed the Brazilian through into fifth.
Several drivers gambled on a switch to wets when heavy rain and the Safety Car eventually arrived on Lap 8. Dino Beganovic led a train into the pits, followed by Luke Browning, Paul Aron, Martí, Goethe, Zak O’Sullivan and MP Motorsport’s Edgar and Mari Boya, leaving the top 10 as those who opted to stick with the dry tyres.
When the Safety Car was withdrawn entering Lap 13, Barnard pounced on Montoya. Unfortunately, the pair made contact, dropping the Jenzer to third and sending the Hitech Pulse-Eight driver plummeting down the order, promoting Colapinto into the lead.
Whilst the wet runners seemed to initially benefit, with Aron moving up to fourth with five laps to go, conditions quickly shifted once more as the rain eased off. As battles ensued behind, Colapinto looked untroubled as the Argentinian took the chequered flag ahead of Bortoleto and Mansell, who’d held firm in his defence of his maiden podium finish, overcoming Caio Collet’s late charge.
Sunday’s Feature Race proved once again to be a battle against the weather. Fornaroli aced his start to fend off his teammate Goethe into Turn 1, who was left vulnerable to Martí’s advances. The Campos driver briefly found his way past before Goethe was able to swoop back through into second around the outside of Stowe.
Bortoleto made light work of dispatching Mansell for third, but both then lost out as Aron stormed his way up into fourth, overtaking the pair through Brooklands. Browning’s dream of home race glory dissolved on the opening lap. Contact with Hugh Barter out of the final corner left the Williams junior with a broken suspension and brought out the Safety Car, whilst fellow Briton Edgar also retired due to contact with Collet.
Once racing got back underway on Lap 7, Fornaroli tried to pull a comfortable lead over Goethe, but the Italian’s tyres looked worse for wear. It wasn’t long before the German driver was able to sweep through into the lead. At the same time, Aron and Martí squabbled over third with the PREMA Racing driver bailing out of a move around the outside at Stowe.
A sudden downpour rapidly shifted fortunes, as Roberto Faria found the barriers at Woodcote on Lap 17, necessitating another Safety Car. With the rain steadily getting heavier, Van Amersfoort Racing’s Tommy Smith was the only one to make the switch, with the rest of the pack risking a three-lap dash to the line on slick hard tyres.
His inspired switch seemed to pay off as the Australian rocketed from 28th to 11th, denied his maiden points by ART Grand Prix’s Grégoire Saucy in a dramatic drag race to the line.
Out front, Goethe managed to keep his #6 Trident car under control to bring home his first victory in Formula 3. Fornaroli completed a 1-2 finish for the Italian team, with Martí rounding out the top three and closing Bortoleto’s advantage in the Drivers’ Championship down to 36 points.
Meanwhile, a bumper haul meant it was advantage Trident in the Teams’ Standings. They sat 13 points clear of compatriots PREMA Racing heading into the second July double header, with Budapest’s Hungaroring the next stop on the calendar.