Second season victory for Lotus F1 junior driver Esteban Ocon
Frenchman took the lead from Antonio Giovinazzi at the start
Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam, above) won the fifth season round of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship at the 4.574-kilometre Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg. The Frenchman took the lead from Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) at the start and took the chequered flag as the winner after 22 laps. Giovinazzi and Edward Jones (Carlin) finished in second and third place respectively. With his second season victory, rookie driver Ocon extended his total score in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship drivers’ standings to 85 points and is now leading with an advantage of 18 points from Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin).
The race had not even started when a disappointed Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing) had already parked his car at the side of the track. A gearshift problem left the 16-year-old rookie from The Netherlands sidelined on his way to the starting grid already; pole position remained vacant as a result. At the start, Esteban Ocon took the lead from Antonio Giovinazzi and Edward Jones. Félix Serrallés (Team West-Tec F3) overtook Felix Rosenqvist (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) for fourth on the opening lap while Nicholas Latifi (Prema Powerteam) also overtook the Swede on the first lap of the race.
During the race, Ocon and Giovinazzi pulled clear from the rest of the field while Jones had to defend his position from Lucas Auer (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) and Blomqvist, the two already having overtaken Serrallés. This battle was briefly interrupted on lap 20 after Michele Beretta (Eurointernational) had come off the track and the safety car was deployed. Racing resumed after one lap; Ocon remained in front of Giovinazzi. Fourth-placed Auer attacked Jones on the final two laps, but the driver from the United Arab Emirates skilfully defended his position and kept the Austrian at bay. Eventually, the Carlin driver was rewarded with third place behind winner Ocon and Giovinazzi. Blomqvist, Latifi, Rosenqvist, Serrallés, Jordan King (Carlin) and Jake Dennis (Carlin) rounded out the top ten.
“I had a good start, I managed to take first place and keep Antonio behind me," Ocon said. "When the safety car came out just before the end, I initially thought that the race wouldn’t be restarted, but that wasn’t the case. My restart was quite good, too, and after the problems I had in yesterday’s race, I am very happy with this victory.”
Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin): “After the start, I was in second place behind Esteban and I was able to follow him throughout the race. However, I have to admit that I was never close enough to attack him," said Giovinazzi. "After the restart, I was right behind him for a while, but I didn’t want to take too many risks. Second place gives me a lot of points as well and this is a good result.”
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