Renault junior Piastri survives first-corner Austria clash to win on F3 debut

Reigning Formula Renault Eurocup champion Oscar Piastri survived a first-corner collision to get his FIA Formula 3 campaign off to a perfect start with victory at the Red Bull Ring

Renault junior Piastri survives first-corner Austria clash to win on F3 debut

The Australian, who was taken on to the Renault F1 Junior programme thanks to his 2019 Eurocup success, was part of a three-abreast battle for the lead going into the first corner.

Poleman Sebastian Fernandez was slow away, allowing fellow front-row starter Lirim Zendeli up the inside towards Turn 1, and Piastri, from third on the grid, into the middle.

Piastri got pincered between the two and appeared to try to back out, but as Fernandez turned in from the outside there was a collision, which pitched Fernandez off the track, and the ART Grand Prix driver retired to the pits with damage to his right rear.

Piastri barely lost momentum, and was able to slipstream Zendeli up the hill to the Turn 3 hairpin, passing the German around the outside for the lead.

While Prema Racing starlet Piastri raced into the distance, Trident driver Zendeli focused on defending from a train comprising Logan Sargeant (Prema), Alex Peroni (Campos Racing) and Frederik Vesti (Prema).

Sargeant managed to pass Zendeli around the outside of the tight Turn 4 right-hander on the fifth lap, but got two wheels on the grass and conceded the position once again.

One lap later he tried again at the same place and, with Zendeli appearing relatively uncomfortable on the brakes, Peroni was also able to get past too.

At that point, Sargeant was 3.2 seconds behind Prema team-mate Piastri, and the gap grew over the next couple of laps, but then the American began to chip away at the margin.

Once the shadowing Peroni became less of a threat, Sargeant began to reel in Piastri. The gap dipped under 2.0s with two laps remaining, and it was 1.6s at the flag.

Peroni set fastest lap in his pursuit of Sargeant on his way to making it two Australians on the podium, while Vesti - who passed Zendeli on lap nine - was also close at hand and completed a Prema 1-2-4.

Last year's Macau Grand Prix winner Richard Verschoor challenged Vesti on the opening lap, but put two wheels of his MP Motorsport car in the gravel at Turn 4 and dropped back behind David Beckmann and Liam Lawson.

Red Bull Junior Lawson passed Beckmann on the ninth lap for sixth, but the Hitech GP driver couldn't sufficiently close the gap to Beckmann's Trident team-mate Zendeli.

Beckmann and Verschoor spent most of the race in seventh and eighth, with just a small margin to Alexander Smolyar (ART), reigning British Formula 3 champion Clement Novalak (Carlin) and Bent Viscaal (MP).

The order didn't change, meaning Novalak claimed the final point and pole for Sunday's reversed-grid race, with new rules meaning it is the top 10 reversed rather than the eight of before.

Jake Hughes, fifth on the grid, pitted at the end of the formation lap for attention to the left-rear of his HWA Racelab car, joined the race late and finished 28th.

New Red Bull Junior Igor Fraga, who started from the back following qualifying problems, made commendable progress to 16th from the 30-car field.

F3 race 1 results - 24 laps

Pos Driver Team Gap
1 Oscar Piastri Prema Racing 32m53.331s
2 Logan Sargeant Prema Racing 1.671s
3 Alex Peroni Campos Racing 3.017s
4 Frederik Vesti Prema Racing 4.002s
5 Lirim Zendeli Trident 7.496s
6 Liam Lawson Hitech GP 10.818s
7 David Beckmann Trident 12.862s
8 Richard Verschoor MP Motorsport 13.800s
9 Alexander Smolyar ART Grand Prix 14.194s
10 Clement Novalak Carlin 14.558s
11 Bent Viscaal MP Motorsport 15.477s
12 Max Fewtrell Hitech GP 22.398s
13 Theo Pourchaire ART Grand Prix 22.921s
14 Jack Doohan HWA 25.218s
15 Dennis Hauger Hitech GP 26.634s
16 Igor Fraga Charouz 27.131s
17 Roman Stanek Charouz 27.587s
18 Enzo Fittipaldi HWA 27.874s
19 Federico Malvestiti Jenzer Motorsport 29.229s
20 Olli Caldwell Trident 29.599s
21 Calan Williams Jenzer Motorsport 29.930s
22 Cameron Das Carlin 30.365s
23 Enaam Ahmed Carlin 30.868s
24 Lukas Dunner MP Motorsport 31.123s
25 David Schumacher Charouz 35.204s
26 Sophia Florsch Campos Racing 35.838s
27 Matteo Nannini Jenzer Motorsport 36.354s
28 Jake Hughes HWA 37.545s
29 Alessio Deledda Campos Racing 1 Lap
- Sebastian Fernandez ART Grand Prix Retirement


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