Fastest lap on Round 23 this time again went to Antonio Giovinazzi.
In front of a good crowd at the RedBull Ring Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) was utterly in control of a chaotic race from start to finish but was robbed of victory after being awarded a drive through penalty for the last of three restarts behind the Safety Car. The victory was handed to Antonio Fuoco (Prema Powerteam) as a result, with Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) and Lucas Auer (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) taking up the other two podium slots.
At the start Giovinazzi simply blasted off the grid to pull into an immediate lead, while behind him Fuoco was quick off the mark as well, getting ahead of Blomqvist before they reached the first corner, the latter just managing to hold off Felix Rosenqvist (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) to hang onto 3rd, while Auer ran wide and lost two places in the scuffle that broke out behind the leader. Giovinazzi’s pace was so good that he was over a second ahead of the squabbling pack behind him by the time they finished the first lap.
And that was when things began to really fall apart. Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam), the current championship leader, took 4th from Rosenqvist at Turn 2, and further back there was a mad lock up from Gustavo Menezes (Van Amersfoort Racing), while his team-mate Max Verstappen ran wide as he tried to resist an attack from Jake Dennis (Carlin). Dennis slammed the door on Verstappen’s attempt at resistance and the Dutchman ended up collecting the unfortunate Jordan King (Carlin) as a result. Verstappen escaped relatively unscathed while King spun out, his suspension already damaged after he clipped a kerb. And that necessitated the first Safety Car period of the race, just when they were doing so well!
The order as they settled in was Giovinazzi from Fuoco, Blomqvist, Ocon, Rosenqvist, Auer, Jake Dennis (Carlin), Verstappen, Menezes and Ed Jones (Carlin). 11th was currently held by Dennis van de Laar (Prema Powerteam), from Tatiana Calderon (Jo Zeller Racing), Sean Gelael (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin), Nicholas Latifi (Prema Powerteam) who was hit with a 5-grid place penalty from Race 1, Felix Serralles (Team West-TecF3), Alexander Toril (ThreeBond with T-Sport), Jules Szymkowiak (Van Amersfoort Racing), Santino Ferrucci (Eurointernational), Hector Hurst (Team West-TecF3) and Alfonso Celis (Fortec Motorsport). John Bryant-Meisner (Fortec Motorsport) who had started dead last after being awarded a 10-grid place penalty, was 21st ahead of Michele Berretta (Eurointernational), Richard “Spike” Goddard (ThreeBond with T-Sport), Sandro Zeller (Jo Zeller Racing) and Roy Nissany (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), the latter having spun off and rejoined.
The restart seemed to go well given the nature of the first corner and Giovinazzi had it all under control and began to pull away again instantly. Sadly some of the others did not have things quite so well under control. Latifi and Jones both tried to make up places and ended up scrabbling to hang onto their existing positions, and then Serralles got shoved into the gravel after trying to go wheel to wheel with Latifi. As the Puerto Rican spun out of contention, further back Gelael and van de Laar clashed, the Dutchman out on the spot, while Calderon had to take avoiding action and lost five places as a result.
And so we had Safety Car number 2. The order now was the same as ever at the sharp end, with Giovinazzi still there, from Fuoco, Blomqvist, Ocon, Rosenqvist, Auer, Dennis, Verstappen, Menezes, Jones, Gelael, Latifi, Toril, Szymkowiak, Ferrucci, Hurst, Celis, Nissany, Bryant-Meisner, Calderon, Beretta, Zeller and Goddard. The Safety Car period was very short this time and the race went live remarkably quickly. It just didn’t stay that way for long.
Giovinazzi again controlled things nicely, but this time the mayhem was evenly spaced through the pack. Nissany and Hurst got into a tangle with Hurst pointing the wrong way as the pair of them sorted themselves out, but further up it was somewhat messier. Rosenqvist thought he saw an opening and got a run on Ocon, but the series leader responded by cutting across the Swede in a blocking move that was never going to work. What happened next was entirely his own fault, and it seemed harsh that Rosenqvist was the one stranded out on the track while Ocon kept going. In fact he was limping towards the pits and into retirement. It won’t hurt his championship lead too badly but it was a pretty silly move from a driver who has been better than that so far.
It certainly shook up the order, letting Auer up to 4th, from Dennis, Verstappen, Menezes, Jones, Latifi and Gelael. Hurst, meanwhile, had also staggered round to the pits though he was able to rejoin. It was all a bit shambolic and seemed to be turning into one of those races when you worry slightly for the future of motorsport! It was all kicking off at the rear of the top ten now, just to prove the point. Gelael passed Latifi for 9th, while Toril fought off Szymkowiak, only to fin they had Ferrucci right with them.
Ahead of them Gelael was now pushing hard, while Giovinazzi’s lead – which had been 1.7 seconds – had been cut to 1.0 second as Fuoco looked to be catching him. Nissany meanwhile was back to the pits and then the most spectacular of the race incidents occurred. Goddard was trying to pass Nissany when he touched the Israeli’s car, and got launched, collecting the unfortunate Zeller, who had been minding his own business behind the Australian. That was both of them out on the spot, Goddard looking more than slightly embarrassed by the accident.
And so, yet again, the Safety Car took charge of the survivors. Giovinazzi still led, from Fuoco, Blomqvist, Auer, Dennis, Verstappen, Menezes, Jones, Gelael and Latifi. 11th was Toril, from Szymkowiak, Ferrucci, Bryant-Meisner, Calderon, Beretta and Nissany. It was just as well there wasn’t much time left because there certainly weren’t many cars left now.
With a little less than four minutes to go at the restart, Giovinazzi messed it up this time, dropping too far back from the Safety Car as they came round to resume racing for what would be a two or three lap sprint to the finish. At least the rest of the pack seemed far calmer this time, maybe because there were so few of them still running now.
As Toril lost a place to Szymkowiak, the message flashed up that Giovinazzi’s restart was under investigation. It wasn’t long before the decision came that he had been awarded a drive through. That drive-through – regardless of whether Antonio chose to come in or not to serve it – handed the win to Fuoco, who was soon given the news. Giovinazzi didn’t seem to be aware of it though, and continued on his way to the flag, celebrating as he crossed the line, only to be told he had not after all won.
With everyone moved up a place, that meant Blomqvist inherited 2nd, from Auer (who seems increasingly Teflon-coated these days in the way chaos breaks out around him but doesn’t actually touch him), while Verstappen survived to inherit 4th from Dennis, after the latter’s visor tear-off was sucked into his car’s air intake, causing a dramatic loss of power and a trip to the pits and retirement on the penultimate lap. Menezes was 5th from Jones, Gelael, Latifi, Szymkowiak and Toril. 11th placed was Bryant-Meisner, from Ferrucci, Calderon, Nissany, Celis, Giovinazzi (after the application of a 20 second penalty in place of the drive through), Beretta, Dennis (a lap down) and Hurst.
Afterward Dennis was awarded a 5-grid place penalty for his clash with Verstappen, and Ocon got a 10 place penalty for his assault on Rosenqvist. Race 3 threatens to be very interesting indeed as a result.
Fastest lap this time again went to Giovinazzi.
Round 23 results
1st – No. 25, Antonio Fuoco*, ITA, Prema Powerteam, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, 22 laps, 35:21.893
2nd – No. 31, Tom Blomqvist, GBR, Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 0.398
3rd – No. 3, Lucas Auer, AUT, kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 1.845
4th – No. 30, Max Verstappen*, NLD, Van Amersfoort Racing, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 3.778
5th – No. 16, Gustavo Menezes, USA, Van Amersfoort Racing, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 4.684
6th – No. 6, Edward Jones, UAE, Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 5.737
7th – No. 20, Sean Gelael, IDN, Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 6.344
8th – No. 1, Nicholas Latifi, CDN, Prema Powerteam, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 7.105
9th – No. 15, Jules Szymkowiak*, NLD, Van Amersfoort Racing, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 7.831
10th – No. 12, Alexander Toril, ESP, ThreeBond with T-Sport, Dallara F312, NBE, gap 8.624
11th – No. 10, John Bryant Meisner, SWE, Fortec Motorsports, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 9.601
12th – No. 29, Santino Ferrucci*, USA, Eurointernational, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 9.985
13th – No. 18, Tatiana Calderon, COL, Jo Zeller Racing, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 10.652
14th – No. 4, Roy Nissany, ISR, kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 12.191
15th – No. 9, Alfonso Celis, MEX, Fortec Motorsports, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 14.612
16th – No. 19, Antonio Giovinazzi, ITA, Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, gap 18.215**
17th – No. 8, Michele Beretta*, ITA, Eurointernational, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, gap 23.757
18th – No. 28, Jake Dennis*, GBR, Carlin, Dallara F312, Volkswagen, 1 lap
19th – No. 22, Hector Hurst, GBR, Team West-TecF3, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, 1 lap
No. 17, Sandro Zeller, SWI, Jo Zeller Racing, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, lap 16
No. 11, Richard Goddard, AUS, ThreeBond with T-Sport, Dallara F312, NBE, lap 16
No. 2, Esteban Ocon*, FRA, Prema Powerteam, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, lap 12
No. 27, Felix Rosenqvist, SWE, kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, lap 11
No. 26, Dennis van de Laar, NLD, Prema Powerteam, Dallara F312, Mercedes-Benz, lap 9