After an overall scrappy race for the entire grid, Liam Lawson failed to hang on to the final podium position after a last lap battle with Mike Rockenfeller.
From the beginning of the race the mood was set on the first lap as drama occurred heading into the famous turn 6 hairpin. Arjun Maini dived in deep hitting the brakes as late as he could but overdid it and ended up launching himself into the side of second placed Lucas Auer.
Yellow flags came out and Maini left the race having totaled the front of his car. Heartbreak for Auer who dropped to last place from 2nd and later ended up retiring after long lasting issues from the crash arose forcing an end to his race.
Liam was able to avoid any devastating affects from the crash as he dashed wide and moved into 3rd. But earlier on in lap 1 Lawson was tapped from behind by Gotz who was hungry to fight for the lead. The German had slotted into 2nd place after the crash.
Lawson headed into the pits on lap 7 with a swift 7.19s stop, Gotz pitted at the same time and just narrowly came out in front of Lawson as they re-joined the track.
The race continued into lap 20 without any further drama. Although, Lawson was overtaken by his teammate Alex Albon who was screaming through the field and continued on to get past Gotz into 2nd position where he finished.
Max Gotz in third was defending with all he had with Lawson knocking on the door for 5 or 6 laps but not able to find the right time to attack. Gotz was complaining to his team about his lack of brakes and on lap 31 Lawson was able to benefit from that.
Liam finally stuck his nose in and made it past Gotz on the turn 6 hairpin putting him into the final podium position plus handing him more critical points to hold on to the championship lead.
But the ABT Sportsline team had different ideas as Kelvin Van der Linde’s teammate Mike Rockenfeller drove a very long first stint that paid off as he moved from 17th into 5th. On fresher tyres he also made quick work of Gotz and his deteriorating brakes and slid into 4th behind Lawson.
On to the final lap Rockenfeller was pressing up to try and get past Lawson and after some pushing and shoving Rockenfeller made it past on the inside with the drivers coming alongside rubbing all the way.
The move was the definition of “rubbing is racing” as the pair exited turns 13 and 14 with debris flying off onto the track.
After crossing the chequered flag and heading into the pits, Lawson was visibly upset with what happened and went to chat with Mike which was caught on camera during the broadcast.
It is unsure what the two discussed post race but it was surely emotional and Rockenfeller didn’t develop on anything in his post race interview just commenting that it was racing and drivers are always emotional after incidents such as that.
Liam lost the place regretfully, but the fresher tyres were too much and Kelvin’s teammate made it to the final step on the podium taking crucial points from Lawson.
Now Lawson and Van der Linde are equal on points sharing first place in the standings on 188 points a piece.
Moving onto the second race tomorrow Lawson will finally race without ballast and will be able to make up crucial ground with Van der Linde picking up the full 25kgs.
Here are the top 10 finishers:
And an updated top 10 in the standings:
Featured image source: twitter.com/liamlawson30