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F3 Spa: Force India junior Daruvala wins incident-filled first race

Force India Formula 1 protege Jehan Daruvala took the second Formula 3 European Championship win of his career - and his first of 2018 - in an incident-filled opening race at Spa

Daruvala got a slow start from pole and lost out to front-row partner Marcus Armstrong and the fast-starting Alex Palou, with pre-race championship leader Armstrong then sweeping around Palou into the lead.

But Ferrari junior Armstrong then lost the advantage to Palou at the exit of Raidillon, and Daruvala slipstreamed his way into second place.

Contact at La Source, when Nikita Troitskiy bumped into Sacha Fenestraz, left Troitskiy stranded on the outside of the turn with suspension damage, and the safety car was called out.

At the restart, Daruvala towed ahead of Palou on the Kemmel straight to take the lead.

Despite running a low-downforce single-plane rear wing, Hitech GP driver Palou could not complete a retaliation move on Daruvala's Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen over the next couple of laps, and eventually he pulled away as Palou's tyres went off.

With a lap remaining, Daruvala was over four seconds to the good, and crossed the line 3.235 seconds in front of Palou.

"I was running a bit more wing and tried to pull away in the middle sector," said Daruvala.

"He stayed pretty close but then I started pulling away as he was losing grip.

"I didn't push too much - I was saving my tyres in case the safety car came out."

Ralf Aron moved into the championship lead by finishing third, after running sixth in the early laps.

An early fight for third between Prema Powerteam-run Armstrong and impressive Hitech rookie Ben Hingeley ended when they touched at Les Combes, Armstrong getting a puncture and Hingeley needing new front wing, which sent both to the pits.

Aron passed Prema team-mate Guan Yu Zhou on the first lap after the restart for what became third, with Zhou then also suffering a puncture and retiring to the pits.

But Aron had to survive an attack from Hitech's Enaam Ahmed.

On the 13th lap of 15 they made contact on the Kemmel straight, with Ahmed sustaining right-front suspension damage that forced him to the pits.

Although the stewards investigated the incident, no action was taken.

Aron had enough breathing space over Motopark-run Red Bull Junior Dan Ticktum to take the final podium spot, despite suspecting he had picked up a puncture from his Ahmed collision.

Ticktum climbed the order from 13th on the grid, and pulled off a great move around the outside of Les Combes on Mick Schumacher to take what became fourth place.

Schumacher just held off Prema team-mate Robert Shwartzman for fifth.

Juri Vips grabbed seventh from fellow Motopark man Marino Sato on the final lap, the Estonian recovering from a clash with Jonathan Aberdein at Les Combes that resulted in Aberdein riding over his rear wheel and into retirement.

The final points places were claimed by Artem Petrov (Van Amersfoort Racing) and Fabio Scherer (Motopark).

Race one results - 15 laps

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Jehan Daruvala Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 35m29.001s
2 Alex Palou Hitech Bullfrog GP Dallara/Mercedes 3.235s
3 Ralf Aron PREMA Theodore Racing Dallara/Mercedes 11.905s
4 Mick Schumacher PREMA Theodore Racing Dallara/Mercedes 16.506s
5 Robert Shwartzman PREMA Theodore Racing Dallara/Mercedes 16.716s
6 Juri Vips Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 17.625s
7 Marino Sato Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 19.599s
8 Artem Petrov Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes 20.065s
9 Fabio Scherer Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 21.075s
10 Keyvan Andres Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes 22.835s
11 Sacha Fenestraz Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 28.572s
12 Ameya Vaidyanathan Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 30.700s
13 Dan Ticktum Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 32.569s
14 Sebastian Fernandez Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 38.970s
15 Petru Florescu Fortec Motorsports Dallara/Mercedes 41.279s
16 Sophia Florsch Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes 43.674s
17 Julian Hanses ma-con Dallara/Volkswagen 51.854s
18 Ben Hingeley Hitech Bullfrog GP Dallara/Mercedes 1m16.389s
19 Enaam Ahmed Hitech Bullfrog GP Dallara/Mercedes 2 Laps
- Jonathan Aberdein Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen Retirement
- Guanyu Zhou PREMA Theodore Racing Dallara/Mercedes Retirement
- Ferdinand Habsburg Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen Retirement
- Marcus Armstrong PREMA Theodore Racing Dallara/Mercedes Retirement
- Nikita Troitskiy Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen Not started

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