Trident’s Roman Stanek claimed his maiden FIA Formula 3 victory during a dramatic 24-lap Feature Race at Imola on Sunday.
Stanek prevailed in a duel against Oliver Bearman to pick up his first win in a race that had mixed conditions and was punctuated by three Safety Car periods.
In a highly eventful race Jak Crawford secured back-to-back podiums with second, while Isack Hadjar also climbed onto the rostrum, following a last-lap clash between former leader Bearman and Grégoire Saucy.
AS IT HAPPENED
Overnight rain left the circuit slippery as the field of 29 exited the pit lane to head to the grid. It led to split strategies, with several drivers opting for wet tyres, though the majority decided to take the start on slicks.
MP Motorsport’s Caio Collet was one beneficiary of the wet tyre gamble as he carved his way forwards from ninth on the grid to lead by almost four seconds in the space of a single lap, as Sprint Race winner Franco Colapinto also made gains.
On lap 2 the Safety Car was deployed following a collision between Reece Ushijima and Brad Benavides, with Francesco Pizzi rotating into the gravel by himself.
That wiped out Collet’s sizeable advantage but both he and Colapinto ducked into the pits to take on slicks, leaving Trident pair Zane Maloney and Stanek – who had shared the front row of the grid and maintained position until being demoted by the charging Collet – back up front.
The man on the move at the restart was Josep María Martí; he had started 24th but on wet tyres surged forwards and swiftly grabbed the lead from Maloney – though it proved to be short-lived.
Just one lap later the wet/dry crossover point had been fully reached and Martí relinquished the lead to Maloney, with Stanek and Bearman also swiftly relegating the Spaniard out of contention.
A second Safety Car period was called when Benavides’ difficult race ended in the barriers after he clipped the back of Rafael Villagómez’s car, and the subsequent restart period resulted in heartbreak for leader Maloney.
As he slowly guided the field around for the restart he spun through the penultimate corner, leaving him out of contention, and as the pack continued it was Bearman who profited by breezing past Stanek along the pit straight for what was now the lead.
Maloney’s stricken machine necessitated the third appearance of the Safety Car, after which Bearman immediately stretched his advantage by pumping in the race’s fastest lap.
However, Stanek soon responded by lowering the fastest lap and the Czech driver was quickly searching for a way past his opponent.
Bearman defended the lead into Turn 1 on lap 22 but the next time around Stanek sauntered past the Briton along the main straight to grab an advantage that he would not relinquish.
Bearman’s reduced pace meant a three-way tussle for third became a four-way fight for second, which soon extended to five cars as a rapid Arthur Leclerc – who had battled his way through from 21st on the grid – also joined the party.
Crawford overhauled Bearman for second and Grégoire Saucy also strived to find a way past the Ferrari-backed junior as the race entered its closing stages.
Saucy went around the outside of Bearman at the penultimate corner but the pair clashed, leaving Saucy facing backwards with a broken car, while the delayed Bearman dropped to fourth as Hadjar snuck through to pick up third.
Leclerc’s recovery concluded in fifth, making it a gain of 16 positions from his grid spot, while Kush Maini claimed sixth with Zak O’Sullivan bouncing back from an early spin to take seventh.
Kaylen Frederick crossed the line in eighth, with David Vidales another big mover as he took ninth from 27th on the grid.
Ido Cohen picked up his first point in the category as he rounded out the top 10, narrowly ahead of Victor Martins, who gamely recovered to 11th after tumbling to 29th and last at the start.
KEY QUOTE – Roman Stanek, Trident Motorsport
“It was a great race, and it’s very nice to win in front in front of the Italian fans with an Italian team. We had great pace at the beginning, then I managed to overtake Ollie, then I escaped, and we won the race. So, I’m really happy, thanks to Trident, and we will keep pushing for the next race.”
THE CHAMPIONSHIP VIEW
Martins retains the lead of the Drivers’ Championship though is now joined on 34 points by Leclerc, with Martins ahead on win countback. In a closely-contested battle Stanek moves onto 33, Crawford 32, with Hadjar on 31, while Bearman is on 29.
In the Teams’ Championship a strong race with its three cars in the top five moves PREMA into the lead on 95 points, ahead of ART Grand Prix on 63, with Trident on 52.
Formula 3 will return to action at the third round of the season, to be held at Barcelona, from May 20 to 22.