Series leader Luca Ghiotto pocketed the maximum 31 points on offer with a sterling drive in Budapest. The Trident star controlled his start perfectly, blocking off the attack from Arden International’s Emil Bernstorff. The Italian then sought off the advances of ART Grand Prix’s Esteban Ocon in the opening laps to bring his car home three seconds clear of the Frenchman. Marvin Kirchhöfer completed the podium.
On a track known for its difficulties with overtaking with the twisty turns, the start was always going to be vital. Ghiotto pulled away and blocked off the charge from Bernstorff, the two almost glued together. Ocon was also in the mix as three diced wheel to wheel on the opening lap. The Frenchman found his way past Bernstorff at Turn 3 and set his sights on the race lead.
Kirchhöfer held fourth, whilst Campos Racing’s Alex Palou had to pit from fifth position due to a tyre issue. Ghiotto had built himself a half a second advantage over Ocon, as the safety car was deployed following an incident between Jann Mardenborough and Zaid Ashkanani. The rookie from Kuwait made contact with the rear of the Carlin machine at the final turn. Mardenborough’s race was over, whilst Ashkanani limped back to the pits and was able to continue.
Ghiotto again was fully in control, as he slowed the pack down beautifully and pulled away at exactly the right time as the safety car came in and racing resumed for the 22 lap race. On lap six, Kirchhöfer passed Bernstorff at Turn 1, moving up to third position, leaving the Brit to defend hard from the Koiranen GP duo of Matthew Parry and Jimmy Eriksson.
On lap ten the top six were covered by just 3.5s with Ghiotto’s margin at the front over Ocon at a steady one second. Arden International’s Kevin Ceccon traded fastest laps throughout the race with Ghiotto, but it was the Series leader who clocked the quickest lap of the race to add two more points to his tally.
As the laps ticked down, Kirchhöfer began to fall into the clutches of Bernstorff, Parry and Eriksson, whilst Ghiotto began to extend his lead at the front to over two seconds. In the final laps, Bernstorff was glued to the rear of Kirchhöfer’s machine, with Ceccon also desperate to find a way past Eriksson for P6 but at the chequered flag, nobody could stop the man of the moment Ghiotto. The Italian was overjoyed to claim his second win of the GP3 campaign.
The ART Grand Prix duo of Ocon and Kirchhöfer completed the podium ahead of Bernstorff, Parry, Eriksson and Ceccon. Carlin and Ferrari Academy driver Antonio Fuoco will start tomorrow’s race 2 from reverse pole after finishing eighth. The Jenzer Motorsport pairing of Pal Varhaug and Matheo Tuscher rounded out the top ten and points scoring positions.
Following the perfect day for Ghiotto, he now leads the standings by an impressive 21 points over Kirchhöfer and 31 over Ocon. Bernstorff and Eriksson complete the top five in the standings. ART Grand Prix continue to lead the way in the Teams’ Standings on 175 points, Trident are in second on 132 and Arden International are third on 1124
Race 2 will commence at 09.25am local time tomorrow with unpredictable weather forecast for the 17 lap race.