Pedro Piquet claimed his maiden FIA Formula 3 victory thanks to an immense start at Spa-Francorchamps, in Race 1. The Trident man immersed himself in battle with polesitter Jehan Daruvala off the line, making his move on the PREMA ace midway through the first lap, before pushing for a gap. Daruvala eventually finished in 3rd behind teammate Robert Shwartzman, who gained vital points in his race for the Drivers’ title.
There was action throughout the 30-strong grid when the lights went out at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, as Piquet attempted an overtake on Daruvala who managed to cling on to the position at the first corner. Shwartzman – starting 4th – made the same move on Yuki Tsunoda for 3rd, but the Jenzer man also managed to claw the place back.
Jake Hughes was flung off track when Logan Sargeant nicked the back of his HWA RACELAB machine, while Devlin DeFrancesco collided with Campos’ Alexander Peroni, who ended up rammed into the barriers.
Piquet had emerged ahead of Daruvala when a Virtual Safety Car was issued, but it was Leonardo Pulcini who made the greatest ground, claiming a remarkable six spots on his way to P2. Tsunoda made the most of his opportunities at the end of the VSC period, lunging ahead of Pulcini for 2nd. The duo were still within sight of former leader Daruvala, who climbed back ahead of them both shortly after to retake his place behind Piquet.
The gap between them was much bigger now though – the Brazilian had taken advantage of the four-way tussle behind him to build a 4s strong gap and put air between them. This enabled him to ease off and avoid the risk of burning out his rubber.
Further back, Marcus Armstrong was eyeing a repeat of his success in Budapest, when the Kiwi started 13th and rose to reverse grid pole, before earning his first F3 win in Race 2. It would be a more difficult proposition this time around, starting from P19, but by lap 6, he was already in 11th.
The battle for the podium was ongoing, as Jüri Vips and Tsunoda went back and forth for 5th, while Shwartzman managed to leap ahead of Pulcini. Daruvala had been unable to bridge the gap between himself and the back of Piquet’s Trident, with his team urging him to push harder. He struggled to garner the extra pace though and shortly after, his teammate soared past him.
The PREMA duo in 2nd and 3rd managed to claw their way out of the four-way tussle they were previously engulfed in, leaving Christian Lundgaard, Vips, Tsunoda and Pulcini to fight it out for P4. Initially, it was Vips who came out on top, but the Dane managed to send it down the side of the Estonian title contender at the final corner.
Uncontested, Piquet crossed the finish line for his first win in the championship, followed by Shwartzman, Daruvala and Lundgaard. Vips was followed by Tsunoda – who claimed his joint-best finish – and Pulcini. Armstrong completed a remarkable drive to seal reverse grid pole, ahead of Max Fewtrell and David Beckman.
Daruvala’s P3 finish takes him back ahead of Vips in the race for the title, but Shwartzman still leads the Championship by 19 points. Armstrong is 4th with 102, while Lundgaard sits 5th on 85. In the Teams’ Championship, PREMA lead by 367 points, ahead of Hitech Grand Prix on 181, ART Grand Prix on 162, Trident on 85 and HWA RACELAB on 66.
Armstrong will start from reverse pole for the second round in a row tomorrow in Race 2 at 9.45am local time, when he will be looking for his second win in as many rounds.