Liam Lawson has held onto his third podium finish in his sophomore FIA Formula 3 season, withstanding incredible levels of pressure all race to clinch third at the line from Silverstone.
Up front, Logan Sargeant was unchallenged for all of the 20-lapper, comfortably establishing a two-second plus advantage in the opening ten laps to cruise home in a caution-free affair and become the first American race winner in F3 history.
Jake Hughes hung onto second by the skin of his teeth having resisted a late challenge by Lawson over the final five laps. The Kiwi perhaps only denied the position by a yellow flag on the final lap at the end of the second DRS straight.
A slow launch by Lawson allowed Hughes to leap from the second row ahead of the Red Bull junior while pole-sitter Sargeant maintained composure at the head of the field.
Lawson then proved to have the speed on Hughes, reeling in the HWA racer down the Wellington Straight as he searched in vain for way back past his rival. Unfortunately, Lawson’s aggression got the better of him and he skated off the track at Chapel, dropping over one second behind Hughes and compelled to go on the defensive against Frederik Vesti.
A relatively clean opening few laps were then spoiled when Jenzer Motorsport teammates Matteo Nannini and Frederico Malvestiti clashed in the final sector, pitching Malvestiti into a spin.
Lawson’s stern defence over the final podium spot raised plenty of eyebrows as the Kiwi brilliantly resisted a hard-charging Vesti on numerous occasions including running his rival off the road at Luffield on Lap 8.
Ultimately, his shrewd racecraft to fend his position paid dividends as Vesti quickly ran into tyre issues and came under threat from David Beckmann and Theo Pourchaire in fifth and sixth, letting Lawson off his chains and momentarily pull out of DRS range.
Having been shown the black and white warning flag for excessive blocking and seemingly rectified his overheating tyre dilemma , a rejuvenated Vesti ditched any pressure behind to set the fastest lap of the race on three successive occasions to close to within half-a-second of Lawson in the latter stages of the race.
The young Kiwi was evidently nursing indecently fast tyre wear in a similar issue to last weekend’s feature race but did respond to the pace demanded by both Vesti and his Hitech GP team to set a purple lap time five laps from the chequered flag which surprisingly gave the Kiwi a shot at second as he closed in on Hughes.
The DRS for Lawson provided an extra barrier of defence which Vesti was unable to overcome and ensured the Kiwi could hang on to claim his third podium finish of the year as well as bagging two additional points for setting the fastest lap of the race.
A localised yellow flag in the final sector due to Nannini having beached himself in the gravel trap after a crash with Sebastian Fernandez at Stowe put an anticlimactic end to an enthralling battle for the final podium positions.
Beckmann trailed Vesti home to claim fifth, ahead of Pourchaire and an impressive Oscar Piastri who charged from outside the top-10 following a difficult qualifying session.
Sargeant now takes control of the championship lead after his fifth podium finish of the year while Lawson also gains a position in the standings to sit fourth.
Lawson will now start eighth in tomorrow’s reverse grid sprint race which starts at 7.30 pm NZT tomorrow evening.