GP3 Barcelona: Force India's Mazepin leads ART 1-2-3 to debut win

Force India development driver Nikita Mazepin leads ART 1-2-3 to victory on his GP3 debut in Barcelona, which featured a duel between Formula 1 juniors; Ferrari's Callum Ilott and Renault's Anthoine Hubert

Polesitter Leonardo Pulcini had given the non-ART runners hope by scoring the first pole for a different team, Campos, since Barcelona in 2016.

But a poor start for the Italian - his first from the top spot - relegated him to fifth in the early running of the season opener.

From second on the grid, Mazepin pounced and set about building a two second gap, which only increased as the race went on thanks to the battle behind.

Ilott appeared to have the taking of Hubert, after passing him with DRS into Turn 1 on lap 12 of 22, and Ilott moved clear.

But with a handful of laps to go, it became clear that Hubert had undertaken a tactical masterstroke, saving his tyres as he breezed back past his fellow European F3 graduate with a couple of laps to go.

Pulcini did recover to fourth, but only after a mistake from MP Motorsport's Dorian Boccolacci, who ran wide at Turn 3, opening the door for the rejuvenated Campos driver Pulcini.

Boccolacci then came under late pressure because of his mistake, but held on to beat German David Beckmann and Ferrari Academy driver Giuliano Alesi, who made good progress from 10th on the grid and takes a provisional second for tomorrow's reverse grid race with today's seventh place finish.

Juan Manuel Correa sealed the all-important eighth spot, sticking himself on provisional pole for tomorrow's race.

The Jenzer driver managed his tyres better than the person in that spot for the majority of the race, Jake Hughes.

Even without DRS, such was Hughes' tyre degradation, Correa was able to seal the spot at Turn 1 with two laps to go.

Hughes had previously fought off Alessio Lorandi, who attempted a robust move around the outside at Turn 1, but he clipped the inside of the curb which spat him into the adjacent gravel trap, he recovered to 11th.

Pedro Piquet, son of three-time Formula 1 champion Nelson, rose to ninth late on in his GP3 debut with Trident, as Diego Menchaca made the most of the race sealing 10th, despite lacking track time thanks to a hydraulic issue in practice.

Both he and team-mate Simo Laaksonen, who finished 16th, had issues before the race started as their cars trailed cables from cooling equipment left in on the starting grid.

Result - 22 laps

Pos Driver Team Gap
1 Nikita Mazepin ART Grand Prix 34m53.480s
2 Anthoine Hubert ART Grand Prix 3.649s
3 Callum Ilott ART Grand Prix 7.143s
4 Leonardo Pulcini Campos Racing 8.032s
5 Dorian Boccolacci MP Motorsport 12.550s
6 David Beckmann Jenzer Motorsport 12.790s
7 Giuliano Alesi Trident 13.907s
8 Juan Manuel Correa Jenzer Motorsport 19.443s
9 Pedro Piquet Trident 22.797s
10 Diego Menchaca Campos Racing 23.521s
11 Alessio Lorandi Trident 24.794s
12 Gabriel Aubry Arden International 26.546s
13 Jake Hughes ART Grand Prix 34.328s
14 Julien Falchero Arden International 34.484s
15 Simo Laaksonen Campos Racing 36.628s
16 Joey Mawson Arden International 37.752s
17 Ryan Tveter Trident 37.937s
18 Will Palmer MP Motorsport 43.208s
- Tatiana Calderon Jenzer Motorsport Retirement
- Niko Kari MP Motorsport Retirement

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