Liam Lawson has become only the second repeat winner in FIA Formula 3 in 2020 as the Kiwi drove a sublime race under ashen skies at Silverstone.
The same venue that yielded the Red Bull Junior’s maiden F3 podium, Lawson claimed the lead in a spectacular move around the outside of pole-sitter Logan Sargeant at Stowe on the opening lap before surviving two late Safety Car and onslaught by championship leader Oscar Piastri to score his second victory in 2020.
Piastri led home a Prema 2-3 behind the Safety Car ahead of Sargeant who failed to recover from relinquishing two positions in the early stages of the 20-lap affair.
An electric getaway by Sargeant ensured the Prema racer maintained the lead on the short run into Turn 1 but a shrewd Lawson would tuck into the tow of his rival to pull wheel-to-wheel along the Wellington straight.
The Kiwi was compelled to play second fiddle but only momentarily before he launched himself around the outside at Stowe in an incredibly brave move to steal the race lead.
A clumsy tussle at Vale saw Sophia Floersch spin to the rear of the grid before the 30-car field was neutralised under the Virtual Safety Car to recover a standard Alessio Deledda in a woeful opening lap for the Campos Racing outfit.
Lawson slowly edged himself out of the critical one-second DRS window with Sargeant’s charge compounded by a feisty battle with his Prema teammate Oscar Piastri who elevated himself into second on lap seven. The championship leader looked formidable and began to eat time out of Lawson’s margin.
Piastri set a thundering opening sector to close to within a whisker of the Kiwi though sat remained content to sit behind the race leader for several laps, taking his first bite of the cherry on Lap 12 but was met by a stern defence by Lawson.
The Hitech GP driver forced his rival onto the outside kerb, maintaining his lead as the duo ran side-by-side across the start/finish straight.
The high-speed nature of Silverstone encourages some of the closest racing on the F3 calendar but often proves to be the catalyst for on-track collisions. The race’s first full-course Safety Car was deployed with eight laps in hands when Bent Viscaal was pitched into a spin by Ben Barnicoat at Turn 8.
An unrestrained Viscaal then collected an innocent Jack Doohan as the pair careened into the outside wall.
While it nullified Lawson’s lead over Piastri to essentially nil, the lengthy Safety Car period meant the Australian only had five laps to muscle his way into the lead without the aid of DRS.
Fortune at last proved to be on Lawson’s side when a second Safety Car was waved due to a scary multi-car shunt at the final corner when a stricken Oli Caldwell was collected by Lukas Dunner, tearing the rear wing and gearbox from the Trident machine.
The surviving 25 drivers then followed the Safety Car single file for the remaining four laps before eventually finishing an enthralling race under yellow.
After three successive retirements, a race win sends a powerful statement to his title rivals and he realigns his championship ambitions.
Lawson will start 10th in tomorrow’s reverse grid race which is scheduled to start from 7.30 pm NZT.
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