Robert Shwartzman earned PREMA Racing their fourth win of the campaign thanks to a relentless drive from 7th on the grid, in the FIA Formula 3 Race 2 at the Circuit Paul Ricard. The Russian rose to the challenge his race-winning teammate Jehan Daruvala had set on Saturday with a magnificent drive that earned him his second win in four races. Trident’s Pedro Piquet was able to hold off the Indian and break up the PREMA dominance for second, with Daruvala forced to settle for third.
Alex Peroni started on reverse grid pole alongside second placed Yuki Tsunoda and made a clean start off the line, with Marcus Armstrong stalling and plummeting down the grid. Shwartzman’s mission from 7th gathered pace on the third lap when Liam Lawson ran wide and allowed the Russian through.
The PREMA man had Bent Viscaal immediately in his sights and looked over the HWA RACELAB driver’s shoulder, but resisted the urge to overtake. A cleaner chance came a lap later and he followed up a smooth overtake on the Dutchman with a surging tear past Piquet.
Peroni was unable to fashion any form of gap out in front and Tsunoda swept past the Australian with the aid of DRS, which left him in the sights of Shwartzman, who had risen to third in just nine laps.
The trio would then enter into a titanic three-man brawl down the straight. The focused Ferrari academy driver in third eyed an ambitious double overtake for P1 and swung to the right of the pair with a clear pace advantage. In the heat of battle, Peroni wobbled and curtailed off-track through the chicane, but managed to recover and retain his place in the conflict, with Shwartzman edging ahead. Tsunoda countered to marginally regain first, but the Russian had too much and eventually made the jaw-dropping move stick.
The former leader would retreat further and allowed Piquet back into the front three, who quickly closed the gap on Tsunoda and dived around him on the straight. Behind them, Lawson and Armstrong were recovering from their struggles at the start to switch up the top ten and somehow re-enter the higher points’ positions, with fifth and sixth in sight, just behind Richard Verschoor, who had also made a number of mean attacking moves.
Daruvala made a clean pass on the free-falling Tsunoda to enter the podium places and add a third PREMA to the top three. Shwartzman was already out of reach in first, but Piquet’s position was less secure and he eventually handed it over to the Indian, who rattled down the side of him.
With the overtake complete, it appeared as though another PREMA one-two was inevitable, but Piquet had other ideas and opened the door to a further podium reshuffle, when he got within DRS range of the Race 1 winner. With just one lap remaining he drew the maximum from his Trident to reclaim second down the pit straight and swiftly closed for business.
Shwartzman crossed the line in first come the chequered flag ahead of Piquet, Daruvala and Verschoor. Armstrong, Lawson and Jake Hughes all completed incredible assaults up the field to conclude the top 7, ahead of Logan Sargeant, Tsunoda and Felipe Drugovich.
The win hands Shwartzman back the Championship lead with 70 points, ahead of Daruvala by 12 points. Armstrong sits third with 37 points, ahead of Jüri Vips on 32 and Piquet on 27. PREMA top the teams’ standings with a mammoth haul of 165, ahead of ART Grand Prix by 115. Trident sit third on 41, ahead of Hitech Grand Prix on 32 and MP Motorsport on 16.
Action continues in just a weeks’ time when the FIA Formula 3 Championship heads to Austria and the grid look to break up the early PREMA dominance.