Jake Dennis claimed his 2nd FIA European F3 race win of the weekend at Pau, although chaos reigned behind him.
The Briton led for the duration, initially from Maximilian Günther and then later from eventual runner-up Charles Leclerc, but never looked challenged.
Antonio Giovinazzi completed the podium placing’s – his eight podium in a row.
Dennis made a very good start from pole, while Leclerc’s sluggish getaway allowed Günther through into 2nd.
The Briton would have little opportunity to escape from his pursuers though – the first safety car emerged on only lap two, when Matt Soloman clattered into the barriers at Pont Oscar.
From the third lap restart, Dennis immediately pulled a gap on Günther, eventually stretching it out to 3.5s by the fourteenth tour; this too came to nothing when Julio Moreno stopped on track causing another stoppage.
The delay was shortlived, with the restart coming on lap 17. This was Günther’s best opportunity – a great restart allowed him to hook onto the rear of Dennis; however when the move did not materialise, Leclerc attempted, unsuccessfully, to take 2nd spot in the Virage de la Gare. As the pair came out together, Giovinazzi saw a gap down the inside of Leclerc, but the Italian was unable to complete the move, ensuring Dennis escaped and that Günther continued to lead the 2nd place battle/
However this green flag stint lasted less than a lap when an overeager Alessio Lorandi attempted to dive down the inside of Michel Beretta in the hairpin, causing a third neutralisation.
This would prove crucial for Günther – in one sense, the Mücke racer was offered yet another opportunity to grab the lead from Dennis; however as the group were about to restart, Günther clipped the rear of the Prema Powerteam man, damaging his front wing in the process.
Restarting on lap nineteen, Dennis again pulled away from Günther, but Leclerc stuck to the rear of the German and forced a way by in the Curbe des Tribunes.
This additional delay for Günther opened the door for Giovinazzi, who dived down the inside of the Lycée hairpin, only for the pair to touch slightly as Günther could not defend any further. Giovinazzi escaped the incident without damage; however Günther stalled by the kerb, partially blocking the road.
Behind them, George Russell had almost completed a pass on Lance Stroll, but the pairing were squeezed into Brandon Maïsano when they came upon the stranded Günther. This caused a minor pile-up, which involved approximately a dozen cars forcing the stewards to bring out the red flag.
After a nine-minute delay, the race restarted with Dennis leading Leclerc and Giovinazzi; but there was nothing that either follower could do to displace the leader and even Giovinazzi fell away from Leclerc after a time.
For Dennis, this was not just a 2nd win of the season, but his 2nd win in Formula 3 as a whole. Now 4th in the standings, the British racer is in a great position to jump up to 3rd in the championship, should his run of form continue tomorrow.
Despite taking three points back off of Giovinazzi’s lead, Leclerc appeared disappointed. A difficult start cost the Monegasque racer a shot at the lead and placed him in 3rd place once for the second time today.
Although the van Amersfoort racer recovered the 2nd spot – unlike in today’s Race One – Leclerc is a young man looking for victories in order to grab the top spot in the championship.
Giovinazzi’s move on Günther solidified the Italian’s eighth podium from eight races, but crucially signposted his new found aggressiveness and confidence. Previous years may have seen the Jagonya Ayam Carlin racer either make rash decisions in the car, or spend too long hiding in traffic; however this year a far more mature Giovinazzi getting on with the job of winning or scoring big points.
The big surprise of the race came from Arjun Maini. The Indian rookie quietly went about his race and was sitting in a credible 5th, when the retired Günther gave him 4th.
Maini spent much of the event under the scrutiny of Felix Rosenqvist, who made moves from 8th and was running 6th, when he forced a way by Alexander Albon before Virage de la Gare on lap 21. Albon would then lose out to George Russell two laps from the end, demoting the Thai tracer to 7th place at the finish.
Markus Pommer ended the race in 8th having also been taken by Russell (lap 22). Sam MacLeod surprisingly scored his first points of the year when he came home 9th, while Lance Stroll followed the British racer home in 10th place – both MacLeod and Stroll lost out to Russell on the red flag restart.