Hungaroring F3: Ralf Aron hangs on to win thrilling race one

Estonian Ralf Aron became the first rookie this season to win a round of the Formula 3 European Championship with victory in a gripping race one at the Hungaroring

Hungaroring F3: Ralf Aron hangs on to win thrilling race one

Aron, the reigning Italian Formula 4 champion, was crucially able to extend a huge advantage after he overtook early leader George Russell - who soon started suffering with dreadful tyre problems - on lap nine the 21-lap race.

Russell was highly defensive for several more laps as an increasingly large train built up behind him, while Aron's Prema Powerteam Dallara-Mercedes scampered into the distance.

Lance Stroll, who in turn was under pressure from Prema team-mate Maximilian Gunther and the Motopark cars of Joel Eriksson and Niko Kari, was unable to pierce the defences of Russell, and it was lap 16 before Kari eventually passed the struggling Hitech GP car into Turn 1.

Over the final five laps Finnish Red Bull junior Kari, last year's SMP F4 title winner, slashed the gap to Aron, who was conserving his rubber, but fell 1.551 seconds short at the finish.

"The race was all about tyres," said Aron. "Tyre management was really important."

In turn, Swede Eriksson finally wriggled free of the scrum and set fastest lap on the penultimate tour as he hauled in Kari, the 2015 German F4 runner-up completing the podium after a race in which the Motopark team clearly found the best solution for the tyre issues.

With his tyres fading due to his time spent behind Russell, Stroll managed to cling onto fourth.

Gunther, who lost his pole position advantage and went from first to fourth in the first two corners, just fended off Carlin's Alessio Lorandi in a battle that often strayed over the confines of the edge of the track.

Sergio Sette Camara, Guan Yu Zhou, Ben Barnicoat and Mikkel Jensen completed the points scorers, with Jensen just three seconds behind fourth-placed Stroll in an ultra-close race.

Russell finally pulled into the pits with a blistered right-rear tyre with four laps remaining, two laps after championship leader Nick Cassidy - who had earlier defended stoutly in a scrap for seventh - also quit after his rubber gave up the ghost.

Paul Ricard race winner Callum Ilott was also sidelined after running out of road at Turn 2 in a side-by-side scrap with Barnicoat on the opening lap, the incident bringing out the safety car for one lap.

RESULT

Pos Driver Team Car Gap Laps
1 Ralf Aron Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 35m01.789s 21
2 Niko Kari Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 1.551s 21
3 Joel Eriksson Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 2.400s 21
4 Lance Stroll Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 11.297s 21
5 Maximilian Guenther Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 11.801s 21
6 Alessio Lorandi Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 12.174s 21
7 Sergio Sette Camara Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 12.612s 21
8 Guanyu Zhou Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 13.090s 21
9 Ben Barnicoat Hitech GP Dallara/Mercedes 13.632s 21
10 Mikkel Jensen kfzteile Mucke Motorsport Dallara/Mercedes 14.407s 21
11 Ryan Tveter Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 15.381s 21
12 Harrison Newey Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes 16.289s 21
13 Pedro Piquet Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes 17.095s 21
14 Arjun Maini ThreeBond with T-Sport Dallara/NBE 28.629s 21
15 Zhi Cong Li Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 29.296s 21
- George Russell Hitech GP Dallara/Mercedes Retirement 17
- Nick Cassidy Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes Retirement 15
- Anthoine Hubert Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes Retirement 11
- Callum Ilott Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes Retirement 0
- Nikita Mazepin Hitech GP Dallara/Mercedes Excluded 0


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