Red Bull Ring GP3: Russell converts pole to maiden series victory

Mercedes Formula 1 junior driver George Russell completed a lights-to-flag victory in Saturday's GP3 race at the Red Bull Ring, hotly pursued by his ART Grand Prix team-mate Jack Aitken

Red Bull Ring GP3: Russell converts pole to maiden series victory

Nirei Fukuzumi and Anthoine Hubert completed an ART 1-2-3-4, with Hubert finishing third on the road but dropping to fourth in the classification when a 10-second penalty for causing a lap one collision was applied.

He kept hold of fourth, though, after pulling out enough of a margin over a gaggle of cars headed by Ryan Tveter.

At the start, polesitter Russell defended hard against Aitken on the run to Turn 1 as he edged his team-mate towards the pitwall.

The pair exited Turn 1 in first and second, while Arden International pair Leonardo Pulcini and Steijn Schothorst pushed third-place starter Dorian Boccolacci down the order on the run to Turn 3.

But that was as good as it got for the British squad as Hubert dived down the inside of Pulcini and Schothorst in the braking zone and the trio collided at the apex, putting Pulcini out on the spot.

The Italian's stricken car meant the virtual safety car was activated and the battle for the lead was paused.

After a swift recovery, battle resumed and Russell and Aitken shot clear at the front ahead of Hubert and Fukuzumi, who had capitalised on the chaotic first lap to rise from 10th to fourth.

Boccolacci had by this stage dropped behind his Trident team-mates Tveter and Giuliano Alesi, with the trio becoming engaged in a race-long fight with Jenzer Motorsport's Alessio Lorandi and Campos Racing driver Raoul Hyman.

Russell gradually pulled out a slight lead over Aitken as he tried to get clear of the one-second DRS detection zone that would allow the Renault F1 junior six chances to close in and attack.

But although the gap swung around the crucial margin for most of the race, Russell was able to break clear and eventually claimed his first GP3 win by 2.3 seconds.

The Briton moves into the championship lead by five points from Fukuzumi, who shadowed Hubert for the rest of the race.

Tveter, Alesi, Lorandi, Hyman and Boccolacci finished in that order after a thrilling final few laps where the group switched positions with each tour in the closing stages.

Arjun Maini completed the top 10 ahead of Kevin Joerg and Marcos Siebert, with DAMS pair Tatiana Calderon and Bruno Baptista pushed down to 13th and 14th when the five-second penalties they had been given for overtaking under yellow flags were applied at the finish.

Those yellows were out because Schothorst pulled over and retired a few laps after the incident with Pulcini and Hubert.

Arden's disastrous race was compounded when Niko Kari, who been tapped around at Turn 1 by Julien Falchero (who was later handed a 10-second penalty for causing the collision), pulled off the track at the long Turn 2 just after half distance.

Santino Ferrucci was the other non-finisher as he retired in the pits in the early stages.

RESULT - 24 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Gap
1 George Russell ART Grand Prix 34m13.306s
2 Jack Aitken ART Grand Prix 2.390s
3 Nirei Fukuzumi ART Grand Prix 5.646s
4 Anthoine Hubert ART Grand Prix 14.051s
5 Ryan Tveter Trident 23.181s
6 Giuliano Alesi Trident 23.885s
7 Alessio Lorandi Jenzer Motorsport 24.363s
8 Raoul Hyman Campos Racing 24.930s
9 Dorian Boccolacci Trident 25.920s
10 Arjun Maini Jenzer Motorsport 26.229s
11 Kevin Jorg Trident 28.975s
12 Marcos Siebert Campos Racing 29.198s
13 Tatiana Calderon DAMS 30.489s
14 Bruno Baptista DAMS 31.654s
15 Julien Falchero Campos Racing 1 Lap
- Niko Kari Arden International Retirement
- Santino Ferrucci DAMS Retirement
- Steijn Schothorst Arden International Retirement
- Leonardo Pulcini Arden International Retirement


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Red Bull Ring GP3: Russell heads tight pack to claim maiden pole

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