Red Bull Junior driver Niko Kari took his first FIA European F3 race victory at Imola today thanks to a wonderful move around Lance Stroll.
Stroll, who led for much of the race, took 2nd place, with Joel Eriksson not far behind in 3rd spot.
The Finn started from the front roll and initially chased Stroll, but took advantage of the draft after a second safety car restart to pull his way around the outside of the Prema Powerteam driver in Tamburello.
From there, Kari managed a narrow gap over Stroll, while the Canadian secured several fastest laps in his chase, but the teenager was unable to overhaul his Motopark rival.
It was a welcome result for Kari, who has endured an inconsistent year that has been peppered with some podiums, points results alongside several anonymous drives.
Stroll’s 2nd place finish may not be too disappointing. The Canadian came home ten positions ahead of his teammate and championship rival Maxi Günther to extend the points lead to eighty-six.
Eriksson fought an impressive battle to secure the final podium spot, with the Swede rising up the top eight taking Anthoine Hubert, George Russell and Nick Cassidy to eventually rise to the top three. Retirements and issues for David Beckmann, Sergio Sette Camara and Callum Ilott helped Eriksson’s position.
Cassidy initially started well, rising from 5th on the grid to 3rd off the line, but the Kiwi could not hold Eriksson at bay and had to do with 4th, while Russell secured 5th for Hitech following a sluggish start.
Hubert came home 6th for van Amersfoort, but it was a less fruitful result for the Dutch team’s other two drivers Callum Ilott and Harrison Newey. Ilott had been been running in the lower reaches of the points by halfway, but an off on lap 11 dropped him to 17th. After climbing back up the order, Ilott challenged Newey for 12th, only for the teammates to force each other off at Tamburello, with Ilott taking a long ride through the gravel travel trap. Both finished well outside the points.
Guan yu Zhou enjoyed a long battle with Ilott, before the latters off, but stayed on track to take 7th, ahead of Ralf Aron, whose mistake on lap nine left him battling for 8th. Ben Barnicoat secured 9th for Hitech, while Mikkel Jenson took the final point for Mücke with a 10th place finish/
The first safety came about when Pedro Piquet had a solo off at the Rivazza on lap five. The second safety car was released when Beckmann and Camara had an apparent coming together near Tamburello on lap 13.