Spa European F3: George Russell storms to win, Prema struggles

George Russell romped to victory in the second Formula 3 European Championship race of the Spa round after passing early leader Joel Eriksson

Spa European F3: George Russell storms to win, Prema struggles

Poleman Russell fended off a challenge from fellow front-row starter Eriksson into La Source, but was unable to stay in front on the long run to Les Combes, when the leading quartet briefly ran four abreast.

Russell was shuffled down to third behind Eriksson and Nikita Mazepin, but Mazepin's challenge ended suddenly when his car stopped as he exited the Bus Stop chicane.

With Russell delayed, Eriksson was 2.285 seconds in front at the end of the opening lap, but Russell slashed the gap and the East Anglian was in the Swede's slipstream by the fifth tour, with light rain falling temporarily at the back of the circuit.

On lap six, the Hitech Grand Prix Dallara-Mercedes of Russell drafted the Motopark Dallara-Volkswagen of Eriksson up the Kemmel straight, Eriksson leaving just enough room as Russell squeezed past on the outside.

From then on Russell pulled away, winning by 7.398s.

"It's really tough to defend around Spa, and I was just getting overtaken from all angles," he said.

"But we were extremely fast throughout the race and I soon got on the back of Eriksson.

"This win is special - my season's been up and down but in dry conditions this weekend our car has been really fast."

Mikkel Jensen emerged from the opening lap in third place and the Mucke Motorsport driver stayed there throughout, never quite getting close enough to challenge Eriksson but taking his first podium of a disappointing 2016.

Maximilian Gunther got up to fourth on the second lap, but the Prema Powerteam cars seemed no more competitive than in qualifying, and he was passed one by one by the Van Amersfoort Racing trio of Anthoine Hubert, Callum Ilott and Pedro Piquet.

Fourth was a good result for Hubert from ninth on the grid, the Frenchman having been harshly grid-penalised two places for a track-limits offence from the opening race.

Behind Gunther, Guan Yu Zhou - who also took a grid penalty for punting Hubert in the first race - fought up the order, the Motopark-run Ferrari junior winning a fight with Carlin's Ryan Tveter for eighth.

Ben Barnicoat narrowly failed to prise away the final point from Niko Kari.

Fifth on the grid, Barnicoat stalled on the green-flag lap and had to start the race from the pits, making short work of the lower orders but running short of steam on Kari.

Series leader Lance Stroll pitted with a puncture on the opening lap, possibly as a result of contact from David Beckmann, whose front wing disintegrated, while Nick Cassidy continued the Prema misery with a detour through the gravel at Stavelot.

RESULTS - 16 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 George Russell Hitech GP Dallara/Mercedes 35m40.974s
2 Joel Eriksson Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 7.398s
3 Mikkel Jensen kfzteile Mucke Motorsport Dallara/Mercedes 8.738s
4 Anthoine Hubert Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes 10.587s
5 Callum Ilott Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes 13.708s
6 Pedro Piquet Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes 17.398s
7 Maximilian Guenther Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 18.932s
8 Guanyu Zhou Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 20.729s
9 Ryan Tveter Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 22.186s
10 Niko Kari Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen 24.485s
11 Ben Barnicoat Hitech GP Dallara/Mercedes 25.365s
12 Harrison Newey Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara/Mercedes 29.113s
13 Alessio Lorandi Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 41.906s
14 Ralf Aron Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 42.480s
15 Weiron Tan Carlin Dallara/Volkswagen 54.402s
16 David Beckmann kfzteile Mucke Motorsport Dallara/Mercedes 1m28.322s
17 Nick Cassidy Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 1m52.545s
18 Ukyo Sasahara ThreeBond with T-Sport Dallara/Threebond 1 Lap
19 Lance Stroll Prema Powerteam Dallara/Mercedes 2 Laps
- Sergio Sette Camara Motopark Dallara/Volkswagen Retirement
- Nikita Mazepin Hitech GP Dallara/Mercedes Retirement


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