Nikita Mazepin amazed in his GP3 Series debut to take victory in Race 1 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, producing a controlling drive to secure a first time out win with a gap of 3.6s over teammate Anthoine Hubert, as Callum Ilott clinched third place to ensure ART Grand Prix locked out the podium in the season-opening race.
A poor start from polesitter Leonardo Pulcini opened the door to the trio of ART drivers, with Mazepin and Hubert swarming the Campos driver off the line to take the early advantage, Ilott squeezing past Pulcini a few corners later to relegate him to fourth. The French team was immediately able to drop the chasing pack, leaving the Italian driver to fall into the clutches of Dorian Boccolacci, who got past on lap four in the main straight.
Mazepin immediately picked up his pace from yesterday’s qualifying session and set about opening the gap to Hubert, looking to put himself clear of the DRS zone and held a 1.3s lead by Lap 5. With Hubert and Ilott duking it out for second, the Russian was able to extend his advantage and manage his lead throughout.
After the midpoint of the race, Ilott blasted around the outside of Hubert in Turn 1 for second place, but the British driver found himself unable to eat into Mazepin’s lead as the latter began to pick up the pace. Reaching something of an impasse, Ilott then began to lose time to Hubert, allowing the Frenchman to breeze past his teammate and reclaim second with three laps to spare.
Despite Hubert’s best efforts – setting a fastest lap on lap 20 – Mazepin’s consistent pace proved to be decisive in securing a GP3 Series victory in his debut race. Ilott lost further time to Hubert in the latter stages of the race, dropping 3.4s behind, as Pulcini rescued fourth after repassing Boccolacci after the MP driver began to struggle with degradation toward the end.
David Beckmann had closed down Boccolacci by the end, having spent his day battling with the cars around him, but couldn’t find his way past the Frenchman and crossed the line just 0.2s adrift in sixth. Giuliano Alesi was seventh, the Trident driver locking up several times in the final laps to put an end to his hopes of passing Beckmann, while Juan Manuel Correa secured eighth and his first GP3 Series points. Pedro Piquet took ninth in his debut race, passing both Diego Menchaca and Alessio Lorandi in the closing stages and dumping the latter out of the points.
Correa will start on pole in the reversed-grid Race 2, starting alongside Alesi as they aim to do battle for victory on Sunday morning.
GP3 Series Round 1 Race 1 Provisional Classification – Barcelona, Spain
|1||Nikita Mazepin||ART Grand Prix|
|2||Anthoine Hubert||ART Grand Prix|
|3||Callum Ilott||ART Grand Prix|
|4||Leonardo Pulcini||Campos Racing|
|5||Dorian Boccolacci||MP Motorsport|
|6||David Beckmann||Jenzer Motorsport|
|8||Juan Manuel Correa||Jenzer Motorsport|
|10||Diego Menchaca||Campos Racing|
|12||Gabriel Aubry||Arden Motorsport|
|13||Jake Hughes||ART Grand Prix|
|14||Julien Falchero||Arden Motorsport|
|15||Simo Laaksonen||Campos Racing|
|16||Joey Mawson||Arden Motorsport|
|18||Will Palmer||MP Motorsport|
|–||Tatiana Calderon||Jenzer Motorsport|
|–||Niko Kari||MP Motorsport|