Liam Lawson has kept his FIA Formula 3 Championship ambitions in check with another strong result to claim seventh in the final sprint race from the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
After the high rates of tyre degradation that had inundated yesterday’s 22-lapper, the 30-strong grid were more mature in their racecraft, sacrificing potential overtaking manoeuvres to keep their tyres in good health.
It meant that after charging to the lead on the opening tour, Prema’s Oscar Piastri cruised to a comfortable second race victory of the season. The result gives the young Australian a big swing in the championship standings as he narrows the points advantage to his teammate Logan Sargeant by three points.
It also ensures Lawson leaves Spain having moved into third in the drivers’ championship, 32-points adrift of Sargeant with three rounds left to play.
A wild start was punctuated by a three-car collision which eliminated Max Fewtrell, Oli Cadwell and Dennis Hauger, the former two finding themselves beached in the gravel trap at Turn 1.
The accident yielded the Safety Car but not before Piastri got an electric run out of the sweeping Turn 3 to charge into the lead having started the race down in fifth.
Now the sole Hitech GP car in the race, Lawson made minor inroads from ninth on the grid before the Safety Car neutralised the race to sit seventh, two spots down on points leader Logan Sargeant who was another driver to have a strong start phase to gain three positions.
A perfectly judged restart by Lawson gave the Kiwi a blazing run along the main straight, offering up a half-hearted lunge on Theo Pourchaire for sixth but saw the better of the move to maintain position. A similarly composed restart by Piastri ensured the Renault junior driver kept the race lead over pole-sitter Matteo Nannini and Australian compatriot Alex Peroni.
The biggest loser from the restart was David Beckmann whose title challenge is slowing losing momentum as the German fell back to ninth.
Piastri’s lead was given a healthy boost when Peroni went on the assault of Nannini, making his move for the lead at Turn 1 on Lap 11. The Prema’s led was now over three-second and he looked certain to score his fourth podium result.
However, the race’s second Safety Car was then deployed four laps later when Frederico Malvestiti skated off the road at Turn 5 to bunch the field once more.
Peroni had kept a watching brief on Piastri on the first restart and challenged the race leader down the 1km main straight but came up second best. Lawson meanwhile had another brief look up the inside of Pourchaire but kept behind the Frenchman.
The top-10 will then stay in single file across the remaining seven laps as Piastri claimed a commanding victory ahead of Peroni with Nannini putting a tumultuous opening half to the year to claim his maiden F3 podium.
The F3 fraternity will head to Belgium for round seven of the championship on August 28-30 before the final two rounds in Italy from Monza and Mugello.