GP3 Abu Dhabi: Mazepin claims win in series' last ever race

ART Grand Prix driver Nikita Mazepin ended his GP3 season on a high with victory in the sprint race in Abu Dhabi in the series' 150th and final race

GP3 Abu Dhabi: Mazepin claims win in series' last ever race

The Russian driver was an outsider for the GP3 title but suffered a track limits penalty in Saturday's feature race which dropped him to fifth and out of contention.

That meant he started fourth for Sunday's race and got a brilliant start to run behind polesitter Juan Manuel Correa and Trident's Giuliano Alesi.

In a wild first lap, newly-crowned champion Anthoine Hubert, David Beckmann and Leonardo Pulcini crashed with only Pulcini able to continue.

Pulcini - who needed to finish ahead of Callum Ilott to take third in the championship - squeezed Hubert, but Hubert couldn't move over as three time GP3 race-winner Beckmann was there.

Pulcini clipped Hubert's front right, while Hubert's front left hit Beckmann's rear right taking both out.

Pulcini incredibly avoided a puncture, but rejoined the chaos in 11th and finished 12th.

Pedro Piquet was spun out by Richard Verschoor and unavoidably hit by Jannes Fittje, ending Piquet and Fittje's race.

Out front, Mazepin passed Correa on lap nine of 14, only for Correa to fight back further around the lap.

But during the virtual safety car for the Hubert/Beckmann/Pulcini and Piquet/Fittje incidents, both Correa and Alesi had breached the speed allowed and were penalised five seconds, dropping both out of contention.

Correa remained in the lead on the road until the last lap, when Mazepin dived down the inside at T11 - the left hander at the end of the second DRS-assisted straight - for a comfortable win.

It puts him on four wins for the year, more than any other driver in the series.

Jake Hughes took second behind Mazepin to end a disastrous season for the Brit who struggled with the GP3 Pirellis.

Simo Laaksonen robbed teams' champions ART of a 1-2-3 with a daring move on Ilott at Turn 11 on the last lap, following Mazepin's lead.

Laaksonen had started ninth, but with three drivers crashing ahead he worked his way forward and was strong in the closing stages especially in what has been a good end to 2018 for the Finn.

Ilott had to settle for fourth but takes third in the championship, with Ryan Tveter finishing fifth after remedying set-up issues which meant he finished outside of the top 10 in the feature race.

Correa took sixth, meaning Jenzer went without a podium in the 2018 season, with Verschoor seventh ahead of the second Campos-run car of Tatiana Calderon who claimed the final point on offer for eighth.

Joey Mawson started plum last after a tough feature race, but drove from 20th to ninth in a stirring drive, one of the most underrated drivers on the grid this year.

Alesi rounded out the top 10 with the five-second penalty, after falling back.

Sprint race result

Pos Driver Team Laps Gap
1 Nikita Mazepin ART Grand Prix 14 30m16.148s
2 Jake Hughes ART Grand Prix 14 1.317s
3 Simo Laaksonen Campos Racing 14 3.183s
4 Callum Ilott ART Grand Prix 14 3.711s
5 Ryan Tveter Trident 14 5.622s
6 Juan Manuel Correa Jenzer Motorsport 14 5.712s
7 Richard Verschoor MP Motorsport 14 6.125s
8 Tatiana Calderon Jenzer Motorsport 14 6.553s
9 Joey Mawson Arden International 14 7.987s
10 Giuliano Alesi Trident 14 9.791s
11 Devlin Defrancesco MP Motorsport 14 10.790s
12 Leonardo Pulcini Campos Racing 14 12.104s
13 Jehan Daruvala MP Motorsport 14 14.713s
14 Gabriel Aubry Arden International 14 14.915s
15 Sacha Fenestraz Arden International 14 18.047s
16 Diego Menchaca Campos Racing 14 18.801s
- Anthoine Hubert ART Grand Prix 0 Retirement
- Pedro Piquet Trident 0 Retirement
- David Beckmann Trident 0 Retirement
- Jannes Fittje Jenzer Motorsport 0 Retirement

Final drivers' standings

Pos Driver Points
1 Anthoine Hubert 214
2 Nikita Mazepin 198
3 Callum Ilott 167
4 Leonardo Pulcini 156
5 David Beckmann 137
6 Pedro Piquet 106
7 Giuliano Alesi 100
8 Jake Hughes 85
9 Ryan Tveter 69
10 Dorian Boccolacci 58
11 Alessio Lorandi 42
12 Juan Manuel Correa 42
13 Joey Mawson 38
14 Simo Laaksonen 36
15 Richard Verschoor 30
16 Tatiana Calderon 11
17 Niko Kari 6
18 Gabriel Aubry 5
19 Diego Menchaca 3
20 Jannes Fittje 0
21 Devlin Defrancesco 0
22 Julien Falchero 0
23 Christian Lundgaard 0
24 Sacha Fenestraz 0
25 Will Palmer 0
26 Jehan Daruvala 0


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Series FIA F3
Drivers Nikita Mazepin
Author Jack Benyon
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