After being denied a maiden win by a time penalty in Race 1 at Budapest, Lorenzo Colombo showed nerves of steel to finally clinch a first victory in treacherous wet conditions in Race 1 at Spa, becoming Formula 3’s 10th winner of the season – a new record.
After significant delays due to the weather, the Italian eventually crossed the line 13.4s ahead of Hitech Grand Prix duo Jak Crawford and Roman Stanek. Crawford’s maiden rostrum makes him the third tier’s youngest ever podium sitter.
Frederik Vesti and Victor Martins made it up to fourth and fifth during a chaotic final three laps, coming out unscathed from a mega four-car brawl.
AS IT HAPPENED
The field had experienced rain in both Free Practice and Qualifying, but it was falling significantly harder at the start of the opening race, Arthur Leclerc admitting on team radio during the formation laps that he couldn’t see anything.
After three formation laps, the field were ordered to head back into the pits with the Stewards deciding that there was too much rain to go racing. After a brief hiatus, they returned to the track in slightly better conditions for three laps behind the Safety Car before eventually being given the green light to get going.
Colombo led the restart from reverse grid pole with spray shooting from the back of his Campos and held off Crawford and Stanek as they made their way down the hill and into Eau Rouge.
The opening laps were spent assessing the conditions with Colombo benefitting from a lack of spray at the front to build up a 3s gap over the more cautious Hitech duo behind him. Johnathan Hoggard was gingerly harrying Stanek, but wary of making a move in the early stages.
MP’s Alpine Academy duo were revelling in the wet, with Caio Collet charging past Logan Sargeant and Clément Novalak for seventh, before closing in on Vesti. Martins followed the Brazilian past Sargeant, having slipped past Alex Smolyar at the start, but then got stuck behind Novalak.
Vesti was able to react to the pressure from Collet by catching up to David Schumacher, but Novalak was unable to find enough pace or grip as Martins and was eventually forced to hand over eighth.
The field were alerted by their teams on the radio that the rain would be stopping, but it looked too late for Crawford to challenge for the race lead, with Colombo already 8s into the distance.
Further back, Schumacher was the cork in a four-car bottle with three laps to go, but the German managed to draw fourth-placed Hoggard into the battle and launched his Trident past the Jenzer down the main straight, sparking a frenzied five-car brawl. Hoggard clawed his way back ahead at the corner as Vesti and Collet got stuck into the battle.
Collet and Hoggard were both forced wide as the fight intensified, with the Brazilian gaining places to fourth and the Briton falling to seventh.
Collet was served with a 5s time penalty - for leaving the track and gaining an advantage - that dropped him to ninth, as Vesti and Martins snuck infront for fourth and fifth, ahead of Hoggard. Meanwhile, Schumacher was the major loser in the battle, falling out of the points to 11th at the flag.
Colombo led Crawford and Stanek across the line unopposed, with the Italian’s gap up to 13.4s. Novalak and Sargeant managed to steer clear of the drama in front of them to retain seventh and eighth, with Collet ninth ahead of Smolyar.
KEY QUOTE – LORENZO COLOMBO (CAMPOS RACING)
“It was a difficult race, but we managed to finish it and get P1. That’s the best result that we could have gotten. I am mega happy with the team and with the efforts that we did analysing Quali yesterday. We will now push for Race 2.”
THE CHAMPIONSHIP VIEW
Despite finishing 14th, Dennis Hauger retains a 63-point advantage at the top of the standings, with second-placed Jack Doohan failing to score. Vesti is third on 88 points, with Olli Caldwell in fourth on 86 and Smolyar fifth with 74 points, ahead of Novalak on countback.
In the Teams’ Championship, PREMA are top with 282, ahead of Trident on 202 and ART Grand Prix on 171. MP Motorsport are fourth with 115, ahead of Hitech Grand Prix on 86.
Finishing 12th, Doohan will look to gain ground on Hauger in the title fight when he starts ahead of David Schumacher from reverse grid pole in Race 2 at 5.55pm local time.