F3 Bahrain: Martins takes feature race victory from charging Leclerc

Victor Martins took his first win of the FIA Formula 3 season in Bahrain, winning a chaotic feature race from a charging Arthur Leclerc.

F3 Bahrain: Martins takes feature race victory from charging Leclerc

It is the Alpine Academy member's first win with ART Grand Prix, who he joined from MP Motorsport this season, and marked a change in his fortunes after a forced retirement in the sprint race.

Martins overtook polesitter Franco Colapinto - starting at the front in his and Van Amersfoort Racing's first FIA F3 weekend - to secure the lead, and built enough of an advantage to ensure he was well protected from a late-race charge from Leclerc.

A fierce battle behind the leading duo had allowed Colapinto and Martins to build up a healthy gap to the pack by the halfway mark, before Martins eventually took the lead on lap 15 - despite his rival’s best attempts to defend.

Leclerc made an astonishing charge through the field to finish second for Prema Racing, having started 13th.

Colapinto crossed the line third, but was demoted to fifth after suffering a five-second penalty for exceeding track limits, handing the final podium place to ART’s Gregoire Saucy.

Saucy’s team-mate Juan Manuel Correa finished fourth, having held off various challenges throughout the chaotic race, which featured four retirements, one safety car and a VSC.

Colapinto had a great start ahead of Roman Stanek (Trident), with the pair holding the top two spots out of Turn 1.

But seconds later the safety car was deployed after rookies Zane Maloney (Trident) and Francesco Pizzi (Charouz Racing System) both span to a stop on track, ending their races.

Colapinto made a perfect start to lead, but fell back later

Colapinto made a perfect start to lead, but fell back later

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Caio Collet suffered terminal damage in his MP Motorsport car trying to avoid the Barbadian rookie, destroying his front suspension as he came back on track from swerving the spin.

The safety car ended on lap five, before disaster struck for the second consecutive race for Stanek as contact from MP Motorsport driver Alexander Smolyar’s front wing gave him a puncture and forcing him to the pits.

Nazim Azman then also stopped on track in his Hitech Grand Prix-run car, prompting a virtual safety car and making him the fifth driver to retire in as many laps.

Leclerc had made it up to seventh by the seventh lap before taking P6 from race one winner Isack Hadjar (Hitech) up the inside of Turn 4.

Correa and Smolyar endured a fierce battle for third on lap eight, with the American driver emerging in front after the middle sector.

By lap 11, Leclerc had snatched third from Correa into Turn 1, before continuing his charge past Colapinto at Turn 2 on lap 18.

Colapinto’s woes continued as he struggled with his tyres before the five-second penalty pushed him out of the podium places.

Leclerc’s team-mates Ollie Bearman and Jak Crawford ended the race in sixth and seventh respectively, having started in tenth and 20th, marking a strong start to the season for Prema Racing.

After ceding the lead to Martins, Colapinto couldn't hold off the charging Leclerc

After ceding the lead to Martins, Colapinto couldn't hold off the charging Leclerc

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Hadjar had looked like a top five challenger early on in the race, but suffered a puncture after contact with Smolyar in an incident similar to that which pushed Stanek to the back of the pack. He went on to finish in P25.

Several drivers were penalised for exceeding track limits alongside Colapinto, with Pepe Marti also handed a five-second penalty while Bearman received a warning.

Enzo Trulli, the son of 2004 Monaco Grand Prix winner Jarno, was given a 10-second penalty for causing Azman’s race ending collision.

FIA F3 Bahrain feature race results - 23 laps

Cla Driver Team Time Gap
1 France Victor Martins France ART Grand Prix -  
2 Monaco Arthur Leclerc Italy Prema Powerteam 1.500 1.500
3 Switzerland Gregoire Saucy France ART Grand Prix 6.800 6.800
4 United States Juan Manuel Correa France ART Grand Prix 9.000 9.000
5 Argentina Franco Colapinto Van Amersfoort Racing 11.100 11.100
6 Oliver Bearman Italy Prema Powerteam 14.500 14.500
7 Jak Crawford Italy Prema Powerteam 18.700 18.700
8 Spain David Vidales Spain Campos Racing 23.000 23.000
9 Finland William Alatalo Switzerland Jenzer Motorsport 23.600 23.600
10 United States Kaylen Frederick United Kingdom HitechGP 23.800 23.800
11 United Kingdom Jonny Edgar Italy Trident 26.900 26.900
12 Mexico Rafael Villagomez Van Amersfoort Racing 28.200 28.200
13 Pepe Martí Spain Campos Racing 30.100 30.100
14 Hunter Yeany Spain Campos Racing 33.200 33.200
15 Finland Niko Kari Switzerland Jenzer Motorsport 35.000 35.000
16 Israel Ido Cohen Switzerland Jenzer Motorsport 35.000 35.000
17 India Kush Maini Netherlands MP Motorsport 35.100 35.100
18 Reece Ushijima Van Amersfoort Racing 35.700 35.700
19 United Kingdom Zak O'Sullivan Carlin 36.200 36.200
20 Ayrton Simmons Czech Republic Charouz Racing System 36.700 36.700
21 Brad Benavides Carlin 38.100 38.100
22 Czech Republic Roman Staněk Italy Trident 38.300 38.300
23 Russian Federation Alexander Smolyar Netherlands MP Motorsport 38.700 38.700
24 Hungary László Tóth Czech Republic Charouz Racing System 39.900 39.900
25 Isack Hadjar United Kingdom HitechGP 49.700 49.700
26 Italy Enzo Trulli Carlin 1'51.600 1'51.600
  Malaysia Nazim Azman United Kingdom HitechGP 19 laps  
  Brazil Caio Collet Netherlands MP Motorsport 22 laps  
  Barbados Zane Maloney Italy Trident    
  Italy Francesco Pizzi Czech Republic Charouz Racing System    
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