Force India junior and Carlin’s Jehan Daruvala took victory in a thrilling Race 1 of the 2018 FIA European Formula 3 Championship at Spa-Francorchamps.
It was a slow start from Daruvala as front-row starter Prema’s Marcus Armstrong and HitechGP’s Alex Palou took him on the line to demote the Indian to third. Palou then took the lead from Armstrong going through Eau Rouge.
The Kiwi took the left line while Palou was on the right, allowing Daruvala to use the two from Palou to put himself in the middle of the two and take second through Raidillon. A contact between Carlin’s Sacha Fenestraz and Nikita Troitskiy called for a safety car period.
Palou led the way from Daruvala and Armstrong as HitechGP’s Ben Hingeley moved himself to fourth from eighth, demoting the Prema pack down below. Just outside the Top 10, Prema’s Mick Schumacher was already up to 11th from 16th on the grid.
Once the race re-started, Daruvala wasted no time to clear Palou for the race lead going through Eau Rouge and make the move stick at Raidillon and pull away from the Spaniard in the laps after to take a comfortable victory.
The Indian did a commendable job of clocking in the fastest laps despite getting no two ahead to win from Palou by a 3.235s margin. This is Daruvala’s first win of the season and his second after last year’s victory at Norisring.
Palou was a lonely second while Prema’s Ralf Aron fended off the charge from HitechGP’s Enaam Ahmed to complete the podium. The two made contact on top of the hill going through Eau Rouge, when Ahmed was trying to overtake Aron.
Ahmed hit the left rear of Aron which immediately broke his suspension as the incident was put under the investigation. The retirement for Ahmed helped Motopark’s Dan Ticktim to finish fourth after some feisty overtaking moves in the race.
The British driver started from 13th and made his way up when others faltered. He made a ballsy move on teammate Juri Vips and Schumacher as they went three-wide through Eau Rouge with Ticktum on the right and onto the grass.
He won that battle to slot himself behind Schumacher who himself got into the Top 5 in a superb show. Vips was the loser in this battle after the Estonian had got ahead of the two a few laps before.
Ticktum closed in on Aron but the Estonian managed to fend him off in the late stages to keep the podium position. Nevertheless, it was a fine recovery from the Red Bull junior in fourth while Schumacher followed suit in fifth.
Vips lost another place in the end to finish seventh after Prema’s Robert Shwartzman managed to clear him as well. Motopark’s Marino Sato all battled through the back to finish eighth, just managing to keep Van Amersfoort’s Artem Petrov behind.
Both started from 15th and 17th respectively to end up eighth and ninth respectively with Motopark’s Fabio Shcerer completing the Top 10 after starting from 18th, thereby making up eight places in the race.
It started off well for the likes of Armstrong, Hingeley, Guanyu Zhou and Ahmed but all of them were caught out by incidents. Armstrong and Hingeley tagged each other on safety car re-start with the former suffering a puncture and later damaging his car.
Like Armstrong, even Zhou had a left rear puncture which ended his race while Ahmed was involved in the collision with Aron. Hingeley did make it back but finished last in 18th. Meanwhile, a message from the stewards also cleared Aron and Ahmed of any penalty.
Position 11-18: Keyvan Andres, Sophia Floersch, Fenestraz, Ameya Vaidyanathan Petru Florescu, Julian Hanses and Hingeley. DNF: Ahmed, Jonathan Aberdein, Zhou, Ferdinand Habsburg, Armstrong and Troitskiy.
UPDATE: Several penalties were awarded post race especially to Ticktum who dropped from fourth to 13th, thereby promoting Andres to 10th. Floersch who finished outside the points was penalised as well.
Amended results: Daruvala, Palou, Aron, Schumacher, Shwartzman, Vips, Sato, Petrov, Scherer, Andres, Fenestraz, Vaidyanathan, Ticktum, Fernandez, Florescu, Floersch, Hanses and Hingeley.