Charles Leclerc took his maiden FIA European Formula 3 victory at Silverstone this morning, edging points leader Antonio Giovinazzi all the way.
Jake Dennis took the podium with a late race move on Gustavo Menezes, who was suffering from mechanical issues.
Having lost the lead from pole during yesterday’s second race, Leclerc did not make the same mistake again, as he edged Giovinazzi and George Russell out through the opening corner at Abbey.
Thereafter the leading pair dropped Russell, yet while Giovinazzi held Leclerc close, for the most part the Italian could not pressure Leclerc into an error.
Giovinazzi did get close to the front at the half way mark, when Leclerc made an error through Abbey; however the Monegasque teen held his nerve and kept Giovinazzi behind as he challenged down the Wellington straight.
For the remainder, Leclerc maintained a solid gap of approximately one second to Giovinazzi, although this was briefly interrupted when the stranded Fortec Mercedes of Pietro Fittipaldi required removal, necessitating a safety car.
The race went green for the final two laps, but once again Leclerc drew ahead of his Carlin rival to take his first victory of the season. Meanwhile Giovinazzi’s triple-podium result gives the Italian an eight-point lead in the standings over Leclerc.
Dennis assumed 3rd on the final lap, when Menezes began to suffer the beginnings of a fuel pump failure. Until then Menezes had held 3rd quite ably, having passed Russell on the opening lap. It was a startling getaway by the American, who had jumped from the fourth row and into a battle for top positions by the Wellington Straight.
Dennis, too, passed Russell for 4th on the opening tour, but could do little about the impressive American until mechanical woes struck.
Russell’s shaky start dropped him to 5th, but Alexander Albon took that place from at the beginning of the fourth lap. While Albon stretched his legs, Russell settled into 6th, but was offered a golden opportunity when the late safety car closed the field up again.
The Briton took his chance and passed Albon for 5th at the restart and dropped the Signature driver by almost two seconds come the flag.
Markus Pommer assumed 7th for Motopark, while Brandon Maïsano, Callum Ilot and Mikkel Jensen filled out the rest of the top ten. Starting 35th and last, Felix Rosenqvist came home 12th, although an error following the final restart cost him the possibility of points.
There was an early, brief safety car period, following an opening lap spin for Lance Stroll. The Canadian stalled his Prema Powerteam entry, forcing race control to neutralise the race for a time.
2015 FIA European F3 Championship (Rd 1, Race 3, Silverstone) Pos. Driver Team Time / Gap 1. Charles Leclerc van Amersfoort-VW 18 laps 2. Antonio Giovinazzi Jagonya Carlin-VW +0.440s 3. Jake Dennis Prema Powerteam-Merc +3.255 4. Gustavo Menezes Jagonya Carlin-VW +4.242 5. George Russell Carlin-VW +4.626 6. Alexander Albon Signature-VW +6.345 7. Markus Pommer Motopark-VW +7.185 8. Brandon Maïsano Prema Powerteam-Merc +8.447 9. Callum Ilot Carlin-VW +9.098 10. Mikkel Jensen Mücke-Merc +9.551 11. Ryan Tveter Jagonya Carlin-VW +10.269 12. Felix Rosenqvist Prema Powerteam-Merc +10.984 13. Santino Ferrucci Mücke-Merc +11.622 14. Alessio Lorandi van Amersfoort-VW +12.379 15. Nabil Jeffri Motopark-VW +12.942 16. Arjun Maini van Amersfoort-VW +13.969 17. Dorian Boccolacci Signature-VW +14.485 18. Nicolas Beer EuroInternatonal-Merc +14.820 19. Michele Beretta Mücke-Merc +15.877 20. Sérgio Sette Motopark-VW +16.074 21. Maximilian Günther Mücke-Merc +17.417 22. Tatiana Calderon Carlin-VW +18.216 23. Hongwei Cao Fortec-Merc +19.958 24. Matt Solomon Double R-Merc +20.622 25. Fabian Schiller West-Tec-Merc +21.249 26. Nicolas Pohler Double R-Merc +21.600 27. Zhi Cong Li West-Tec-Merc +22.071 28. Raoul Hyman West-Tec-Merc +22.561 29. Mahaveer Raghunathan Motopark-VW +23.113 30. Julio Moreno ThreeBond T-Sport-NBE +1 lap Retirements: Sam MacLeod Motopark-VW +1 lap Matthew Rao West-Tec-Merc +1 lap Kang Ling Mücke-Merc +2 laps Pietro Fittipaldi Fortec-Merc +4 laps Lance Stroll Prema Powerteam-Merc +17 laps