Callum Ilott took a start-to-finish win in the first Formula 3 European Championship race of the penultimate round at the Red Bull Ring.
It wasn’t easy for poleman Ilott, because Joel Eriksson had managed to brave it out around the outside of front-row qualifier Maximilian Gunther at Turn 1 to take second.
Eriksson then spent the opening lap swarming around the Prema Powerteam Dallara-Mercedes of Ilott, trying to find a gap.
Ilott, who was driving a different chassis built up overnight by the Prema mechanics after inflicting substantial damage on his original car over the kerbs in qualifying, successfully defended position, but Eriksson continued to apply pressure.
By lap 10 of what became a 25-lap race, Ilott had eked the gap out to just over a second, and then by two-thirds distance he was over 1.5s in front, before taking the chequered flag 1.828s clear.
“It’s been a really good weekend so far. I’ve always really enjoyed this track – it’s probably my favourite to get a trophy on for some other reasons," said Ilott, who was dropped from the Red Bull junior programme in 2015.
“I struggled a bit off the line, and Joel was able to challenge me, but he snatched a wheel and went straight and I was able to get a better exit.
“After a while, a bit of grip came and I was able to just edge away a tenth at a time.”
The second Prema car of Gunther stayed close to the leading duo during the opening stages, but dropped away with fading front tyres and into the sights of Tadasuke Makino and Lando Norris.
Norris had lost fourth to Makino on the opening lap, and for a long while seemed to have no answer to the Hitech-run Honda protege.
But as the race wore on he drew closer and, on the penultimate lap, the Carlin-run Norris was all over Makino.
McLaren protege Norris skimmed the grass out of Turn 4 before diving to the inside at the second of the two fast left-handers.
Norris’s fourth place means he stemmed the points loss to third-placed Gunther – he is now 70 in front, and could still mathematically be crowned in the final race of the weekend.
Ferdinand Habsburg had a good run to sixth place from a grid-penalised 13th.
He moved up to eighth on the fourth lap when Harrison Newey nerfed into Nikita Mazepin on the run to Turn 3, sending the innocent Russian into a helpless spin and out of the race.
Habsburg then took advantage of the fight for sixth between Mick Schumacher and David Beckmann to pass both on the same lap in his Carlin machine.
Schumacher beat Beckmann to seventh, with Guan Yu Zhou ninth and Pedro Piquet holding off a late challenge from Jake Hughes, who started from the back of the grid after an engine-change grid penalty, for the final point.
|1||Callum Ilott||Prema Powerteam||34'59.668|
|3||Maximilian Gunther||Prema Powerteam||5.141|
|5||Tadasuke Makino||Hitech GP||10.119|
|7||Mick Schumacher||Prema Powerteam||15.598|
|9||Guan Yu Zhou||Prema Powerteam||21.330|
|10||Pedro Piquet||Van Amersfoort Racing||22.568|
|11||Jake Hughes||Hitech GP||23.249|
|12||Ralf Aron||Hitech GP||24.046|
|18||Joey Mawson||Van Amersfoort Racing||1 lap|
|19||Harrison Newey||Van Amersfoort Racing||2 laps|
|Ret||Nikita Mazepin||Hitech GP||-|