Pau Euro F3: Lotus F1 junior Esteban Ocon wins eventful opener

Esteban Ocon delighted a partisan French crowd by winning Saturday's Formula 3 European Championship race at Pau

Pau Euro F3: Lotus F1 junior Esteban Ocon wins eventful opener

The Lotus Formula 1 Junior had to defend at the start from Lucas Auer and Max Verstappen, before the race swiftly went under caution.

Alexander Toril had launched over the back of Mitch Gilbert into Pont Oscar and took off for a scary aerial crash, which took just two laps for the marshals to clear up. Ocon gradually inched away from Auer and Verstappen after the restart, but got his break when Auer began to defend from the Dutchman.

On the seventh lap, Auer locked up into the Lycee hairpin, Verstappen squeezed down the inside, and the Austrian had to put two wheels on the pavement into the following left-hand sweeper to retain his second place.

A second safety car, caused by Michele Beretta parking his stricken car on the inside pavement at Parc Beaumont, meant Ocon had to do it all again. But the Prema Powerteam Dallara-Mercedes driver quickly pulled a comfortable margin on Auer's similar Mucke Motorsport car, which in turn was unchallenged by Verstappen's Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara-Volkswagen.

With Nicholas Latifi pulling into the pitlane at the end of the green-flag lap and unable to take up his second-row position, Jake Dennis grabbed the opportunity for his best F3 result to date. He had to work hard, fending off Carlin team-mate Jordan King, who tried a big lunge around the outside into the Virage de la Gare after the second restart.

This duo was shadowed by West-Tec's Felix Serralles, who in turn had the Jagonya Ayam with Carlin car of Antonio Giovinazzi right behind.

Ed Jones shook off his qualifying mega-shunt to take eighth in his Carlin machine, while the second Jagonya Ayam with Carlin driver, Sean Gelael, had to concede ninth to Spike Goddard when the Australian made a brave move into Gare mid-race in his T-Sport Dallara-NBE.

Unusually for Pau, there was plenty of successful overtaking lower down the order, with Felix Rosenqvist carving through from 22nd to 14th with a series of late-race moves - he took two in one go when Antonio Fuoco and Felipe Guimaraes got all squirrelly at Lycee in their battle.

Results - 27 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Esteban Ocon Prema Dallara-Merc 35m36.291s 2. Lucas Auer Mucke Dallara-Merc +2.922s 3. Max Verstappen Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW +5.951s 4. Jake Dennis Carlin Dallara-VW +11.368s 5. Jordan King Carlin Dallara-VW +12.673s 6. Felix Serralles West-Tec Dallara-Merc +14.710s 7. Antonio Giovinazzi Carlin Dallara-VW +15.797s 8. Ed Jones Carlin Dallara-VW +21.196s 9. Spike Goddard T-Sport Dallara-NBE +24.022s 10. Sean Gelael Carlin Dallara-VW +24.864s 11. Tom Blomqvist Carlin Dallara-VW +26.059s 12. John Bryan-Meisner Fortec Dallara-Merc +26.510s 13. Dennis van de Laar Prema Dallara-Merc +26.715s 14. Felix Rosenqvist Mucke Dallara-Merc +28.113s 15. Gustavo Menezes Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW +29.548s 16. Felipe Guimaraes Double R Dallara-Merc +29.672s 17. Antonio Fuoco Prema Dallara-Merc +30.443s 18. Tatiana Calderon Jo Zeller Dallara-Merc +34.853s 19. Jules Szymkowiak Van Amersfoort Dallara-VW +35.525s 20. Roy Nissany Mucke Dallara-Merc +42.210s 21. Hector Hurst West-Tec Dallara-Merc +45.011s Retirements: Riccardo Agostini Eurointernational Dallara-Merc 26 laps Michele Beretta Eurointernational Dallara-Merc 12 laps Nicholas Latifi Prema Dallara-Merc 0 laps Mitchell Gilbert Fortec Dallara-Merc 0 laps Alexander Toril T-Sport Dallara-NBE 0 laps 
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Series FIA F3
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