Imola Euro F3: Esteban Ocon claims title, Max Verstappen wins race

Lotus F1 junior Esteban Ocon became Formula 3 European champion by finishing third in a final race at Imola that was won by Max Verstappen

Imola Euro F3: Esteban Ocon claims title, Max Verstappen wins race

Both poleman Verstappen and front-row partner Ocon were beaten away at the start by Ferrari protege Antonio Fuoco, who held the inside line to claim the lead into Tamburello.

New Toro Rosso Formula 1 signing Verstappen, who had stalled before the start and fired the engine up again just before the lights went out, managed to just hold off Ocon, with the champion-elect playing it safe.

Two early safety cars frustrated Verstappen's attempts to take on Fuoco.

The first was caused by Antonio Giovinazzi's car being left stranded after contact with Ed Jones; the second came when Sandro Zeller had a big crash, from which he emerged unscathed.

On the second restart, Verstappen got a fantastic run on Fuoco and the Van Amersfoort Racing car was already ahead of the Prema Powerteam machine when they reached the braking point for Tamburello.

There was a third safety car, caused by an enormous accident for Felix Rosenqvist at Tamburello after he briefly went airborne over the right-rear wheel of Jordan King.

The Swede stayed in the cockpit for some time after the impact, but was then on his feet before being taken to the medical centre, where he is uninjured but shaken.

That left just four more laps of racing, and the cautious Ocon, while he got close to Prema team-mate Fuoco, never really tried a move to get past.

Up front, Verstappen pulled away to win by just over two seconds.

"I did so many overtakes in the second race that this one on Antonio wasn't so exciting for me anymore," he quipped.

"I knew we had the speed, so I just stayed calm, and after I got past I had really good pace."

Fuoco, meanwhile, dedicated his podium to fellow Ferrari Driver Academy member Jules Bianchi.

Tom Blomqvist, like Verstappen, lost his final chance of the title in this race. He lost out to Nicholas Latifi on the opening lap, and had a lairy moment at Tamburello while trying to pass the Canadian after the final safety car, but had to settle for fifth.

Will Buller scored the first finish for the returning Signature team, emerging from a great fight with Jake Dennis and Lucas Auer for sixth, with Felix Serralles also latching onto the battle.

Gustavo Menezes completed the points scorers, with King next up.

RESULTS - 17 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Max Verstappen Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Volkswagen 36m15.097s
2 Antonio Fuoco Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 2.100s
3 Esteban Ocon Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 3.066s
4 Nicholas Latifi Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 3.650s
5 Tom Blomqvist Jagonya Ayam with Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 4.030s
6 William Buller Signature Dallara/Volkswagen 6.799s
7 Jake Dennis Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 7.421s
8 Lucas Auer KFZTeile24 Mucke Motorsport Dallara/Mercedes 7.960s
9 Felix Serralles Team West-Tec F3 Dallara/Mercedes 8.291s
10 Gustavo Menezes Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Volkswagen 9.391s
11 Jordan King Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 10.135s
12 Roy Nissany KFZTeile24 Mucke Motorsport Dallara/Mercedes 11.070s
13 Dennis van de Laar Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 11.969s
14 Jules Szymkowiak Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Volkswagen 12.786s
15 Alexander Toril ThreeBond with T-Sport Dallara/NBE 13.846s
16 Santino Ferrucci Fortec Motorsports Dallara/Mercedes 16.144s
17 Michele Beretta EuroInternational Dallara/Mercedes 17.479s
18 Andy Chang Team West-Tec F3 Dallara/Mercedes 17.998s
19 Richard Goddard ThreeBond with T-Sport Dallara/NBE 18.254s
20 Martin Cao Fortec Motorsports Dallara/Mercedes 19.089s
21 Sergio Sette Camara EuroInternational Dallara/Mercedes 19.395s
22 Nick Cassidy ThreeBond with T-Sport Dallara/NBE 24.934s
- Felix Rosenqvist KFZTeile24 Mucke Motorsport Dallara/Mercedes Retirement
- Tatiana Calderon Jo Zeller Racing Dallara/Mercedes Retirement
- Sean Gelael Jagonya Ayam with Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen Retirement
- Sandro Zeller Jo Zeller Racing Dallara/Mercedes Retirement
- Ed Jones Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen Retirement
- Antonio Giovinazzi Jagonya Ayam with Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen Retirement

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS AFTER 30 OF 33 ROUNDS:

Pos Driver Points
1 Esteban Ocon 454
2 Max Verstappen 368
3 Tom Blomqvist 365
4 Lucas Auer 307
5 Antonio Fuoco 255
6 Antonio Giovinazzi 198
7 Jordan King 191
8 Jake Dennis 174
9 Felix Rosenqvist 168
10 Nicholas Latifi 128
11 Gustavo Menezes 85
12 Felix Serralles 80
13 Ed Jones 68
14 Dennis van de Laar 36
15 Mitch Gilbert 28
16 Tatiana Calderon 25
17 Santino Ferrucci 24
18 Roy Nissany 20
19 Sean Gelael 20
20 Jules Szymkowiak 17

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Imola European F3: Tom Blomqvist wins as Max Verstappen stuns

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