It was redemption day for Paul Aron in Spielberg as the PREMA Racing man fought back from eighth on the grid to take his first FIA Formula 3 victory. The Estonian hunted down reverse grid pole sitter Josep María Martí after a mid-race Safety Car to secure his victory.
Gabriele Minì took important points for the title fight in second position for Hitech Pulse-Eight ahead of Van Amersfoort Racing’s Caio Collet, who returned to the podium for the first time since the Sakhir Sprint Race.
AS IT HAPPENED
After a Safety Car-led formation lap, Martí retained his lead off the line, but Oliver Goethe didn’t pull away cleanly, dropping from fourth down to 27th. Aron was flying though and up to third by the end of the first lap.
On Lap 2, Trident’s Gabriel Bortoleto dropped down to 14th having been in ninth position after a slow exit out of Turn 3. The Brazilian was quick to start his fightback, taking 13th from Mari Boya and then 12th from Dino Beganovic in quick succession.
Aron cleared Kaylen Frederick for P2 on Lap 8 and set his sights on leader Martí, who’d built up a 3.6s lead in the opening stages of the race. The Mercedes junior immediately set the fastest lap of the race in clean air to take four-tenths out of the Spaniard.
Frederick was on the defensive once more on Lap 9 as this time, Minì passed the ART Grand Prix driver around the outside of Turn 4 to take third. Collet was through on the following lap into Turn 3. Franco Colapinto attempted to take sixth from Zak O’Sullivan but got too deep into Turn 4 and took a trip through the gravel, falling to 19th as a result.
The Safety Car was deployed on Lap 11 after contact between Oliver Gray and Rafael Villagómez at Turn 4. The VAR driver was spun around following contact with the #20 Rodin Carlin, and the Briton had nowhere to go to avoid him.
Racing resumed entering Lap 14 and Martí put a small buffer between himself and Aron at the restart. Meanwhile, Beganovic was able to clear Luke Browning at Turn 3 to take ninth from the Hitech Pulse-Eight driver. O’Sullivan moved himself into the top five on Lap 16, diving to the inside of Frederick up the hill into Turn 3.
Aron had closed on Martí gradually lap after lap following the restart and on Lap 18, he cleared the Spanish driver into Turn 3, fending off Minì in the process, who’d put them all three-wide entering the corner. The Hitech Pulse-Eight driver was able to move himself into second at Turn 4, dropping Martí to third.
Collet dived to the inside of the Campos racer at the final corner on the penultimate lap to move himself into third, and O’Sullivan capitalised on his lost momentum to pass Martí for fourth. Edgar swept through to take fifth at Turn 5 to cap off a tricky day for the reverse grid pole sitter.
Aron made up for his disappointment after missing out on pole with a superb victory in the spray. The PREMA held off Minì, who took P2, with Collet third in front of O’Sullivan. Edgar scored his first top five of the season for MP Motorsport, having started 16th on the grid, whilst Martí ended up sixth for Campos. Frederick was seventh in the end ahead of Beganovic, Montoya and Bortoleto, who took the final Championship point in 10th.
KEY QUOTE – Paul Aron, PREMA Racing
“Sprint Race done here at the Red Bull Ring and we came home with the win. Emotions are through the roof honestly. We were super quick yesterday, PREMA did an amazing job and we got pole position but I made a mistake on my lap with track limits and got my time deleted. So today, starting from eighth, we had amazing pace in the wet, again PREMA was fully on it. All the credit to them, the car was amazing and also the race was so enjoyable. We managed to fight through the back and come home with the win. It feels more than it is because it’s kind of redemption for yesterday but the Feature Race is tomorrow, we have been on it all weekend so hopefully we can keep it going tomorrow.”
THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
Gabriel Bortoleto’s Championship lead falls to 20 points after his P10 finish. Josep María Martí remains second on 73 points. Gabriele Minì and Paul Aron are third and fourth respectively, tied on 65 points. Dino Beganovic rounds out the top five in the Drivers’ Championship, rising up to 64 points.
In the Teams’ Standings, PREMA Racing still leads the way on 177 points. Trident stay in second place with Bortoleto’s additional point moving the Italian team onto 152. Hitech Pulse-Eight remains in third, now on 128 points.
The Formula 3 Feature Race in Spielberg is set to get underway at 08:25 local time. Grégoire Saucy goes from P1 after clinching his maiden F3 pole on Friday.