Liam Lawson has come up shy of a repeat podium drive in today’s FIA Formula 3 sprint race from Silverstone as the Kiwi ran off the circuit at the final corner in an opportunistic move on Theo Pourchaire for third, ultimately coming home in fifth.
A traditional F3 barn burner, victory was undecided until the very last corner when runaway leaders Bent Viscaal and Lirim Zendelli duelled for the lead into the final chicane only for Viscaal, who hadn’t led a lap all race, to come up trumps and snare an incredible maiden race win.
Lawson’s race pace was equally impressive having charged from eighth on the grid before becoming mired among a six-car tussle for third. The Kiwi’s deft racecraft a defining factor in his ability to swiftly make his way towards the front of the pack, suggesting he is a real contender for this year’s title.
Zendeli looked to be in complete control of the race after he surged into the lead with an electric getaway from the start as Viscaal also leapfrogged pole-sitter Ben Barnicoat to hold second.
Starting eighth courtesy of his podium finish in yesterday’s feature race, Lawson had gained two early positions on Prema stablemates Oscar Piastri and Frederik Vesti to sit sixth before the race was neutralised under the Safety Car to clean an opening lap incident between Lukas Dunner and Calan Williams.
Zendeli immediately went on the charge off the restart, towing Viscaal behind him as the leading two rapidly darted away from the challenging pack.
Lawson had a heart in the mouth moment on his seventh tour when himself and Piastri made gentle contact at the end of the first DRS straight. The clash dropped the Kiwi to eighth but quickly reeled in those ahead of him who had become becalmed behind a sluggish Barnicoat.
The Brit had dropped over three seconds to Viscaal by the halfway mark before suffering a mechanical failure on Lap 12 and retiring on the spot. A brief Virtual Safety Car period was waved to recover the stricken Carlin.
Ultimately, Zendeli and Viscaal powered away from the field with a freshly elevated Pourchaire six seconds adrift of the leading duo. All the while a shrewd Lawson had scythed his way into fifth before executing a wily switchback manoeuvre at Vale at the end of Lap 16.
The Kiwi then set his sights on Pourchaire for a shot at a second podium finish of the weekend just as Viscaal set the timing screens alight as he slimed the margin to Zendeli.
A final lap showdown was in store as Zendeli struggled to pull away from a resilient Viscaal. The Dutchman pounced early on the short chute into Copse only for Zendeli to fight back along the DRS straight as the pair diced for the lead approaching the final complex of corners.
A Toyota Racing Series graduate, Zendeli attempted to cover Viscaal on the inside but set himself up for a poor run to the line which his rival was cleverly able to anticipate and clinch the position and the victory at the final corner.
Behind, Lawson set up a similar move on Pourchaire who had earned himself a black and white flag for his excessive blocking along the straights. But unlike Viscaal, Lawson ran out of road as he bravely dared to hang it around the outside of Pourchaire and allowing a fortunate David Beckmann to pip the Kiwi across the line by a mere 0.019s. Behind Lawson was Piastri, Jake Hughes and Vesti.
The F3 paddock now has another one week break before returning to action this time at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix.