Barcelona GP3: Honda junior Fukuzumi holds off ART team-mate Aitken

Honda Formula 1 junior Nirei Fukuzumi won the opening race of the 2017 GP3 season for ART Grand Prix after mechanical troubles ended the challenge of his team-mate Jack Aitken

Barcelona GP3: Honda junior Fukuzumi holds off ART team-mate Aitken

Fukuzumi made a better start than polesitter Aitken and grabbed the lead off the line on the long run down to the first corner at Barcelona.

Aitken attempted to come back at Fukuzumi but slid wide at Turn 1 and edged Dorian Boccolacci off the track on the exit of the Turn 2, forcing the Trident driver to fourth place behind Leonardo Pulcini - the incident was noted by the stewards, but no further action was taken.

Fukuzumi and Aitken traded fastest laps early on as they broke clear of Pulcini and George Russell who used his first DRS to pass Marcos Siebert for seventh place on lap eight of 22, after initially falling from fourth to eighth with a poor start.

GP3 has introduced the F1-style overtaking aid for 2017, with the drivers allowed to use it six times in the feature race and four times in the sprint event.

As Russell and Alessio Lorandi opted to use their DRS allocation to make up positions early in the race, Aitken waited until lap 15 to open his rear wing slot for the first time.

That allowed him to close in on Fukuzumi down Barcelona's main straight, but the Japanese driver was able to maintain his advantage.

Aitken tried the DRS tactic again the following lap but just as he looked to be closing on his team-mate the British driver suddenly lost drive and was forced to crawl back to the pits to retire.

That left Fukuzumi comfortably clear at the front of the pack and he went on to win by 7.4s over Pulcini, who resisted late-race pressure from the charging Lorandi to hang on to second.

Russell, who had used to DRS to defend against a mid-race attack from Haas F1 junior driver Arjun Maini, came home fourth after passing Boccolacci when the French driver ran wide at the final corner with three laps remaining.

Anthoine Hubert also got by Boccolacci in the closing stages and they came home fifth and sixth, with Maini just behind in seventh.

Raoul Hyman came out on top of a last lap scrap with his Campos team-mate Siebert to claim eighth and pole for tomorrow's reverse grid sprint race, and Santino Ferrucci demoted the Italian Formula 4 champion to tenth on the run to the line.

Sauber F1 development Tatiana Calderon ended up 14th, ahead of Red Bull junior team member Niko Kari.

Pos Driver Team Gap
1 Nirei Fukuzumi ART Grand Prix 36m41.269s
2 Leonardo Pulcini Arden International 7.433s
3 Alessio Lorandi Jenzer Motorsport 7.889s
4 George Russell ART Grand Prix 11.807s
5 Anthoine Hubert ART Grand Prix 12.159s
6 Dorian Boccolacci Trident 14.364s
7 Arjun Maini Jenzer Motorsport 14.906s
8 Raoul Hyman Campos Racing 30.986s
9 Santino Ferrucci DAMS 31.314s
10 Marcos Siebert Campos Racing 31.357s
11 Julien Falchero Campos Racing 31.912s
12 Ryan Tveter Trident 32.228s
13 Kevin Jorg Trident 32.916s
14 Tatiana Calderon DAMS 33.288s
15 Niko Kari Arden International 35.996s
16 Bruno Baptista DAMS 37.783s
17 Giuliano Alesi Trident 38.240s
18 Steijn Schothorst Arden International 39.412s
- Jack Aitken ART Grand Prix Retirement

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Renault F1 junior Aitken takes first GP3 pole position of 2017
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Haas F1's Arjun Maini takes maiden GP3 win at Barcelona

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