The GP3 Series got under way this morning, as a prelude to the FORMULA 1 GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA EMIRATES 2018 weekend. The first race of the season in this closely matched series ended up with an ART Grand Prix team walkover: Russian driver Nikita Mazepin was flanked on the podium by a French, Anthoine Hubert and a Briton, Callum Ilott.
The Russian 19-year old rookie unforgivingly snatched polesitter Leonardo Pulcini (Campos Racing) the lead, planting his car on the top spot, and holding on to it all the way to the chequered flag. Mazepin drove the full 22 laps as if he did not feel the pressure, and offered his rivals no chance to even challenge him. Hubert and Ilott disposed of Pulcini to engage in a fraught draining fight which paved the way to the uncompromising race leader.
With 5 laps to go, Hubert posted a fastest lap (1m33.846s) in his quest for the head, but the Russian held off his opponent and crossed the line as a fine winner, ahead of Hubert (4th overall last season) and Callum Ilott, another raising young star who notched up his first podium finish.
Spanish ART Grand Prix driver and polesitter Leonardo Pulcini finished fourth after paying a heavy tall for his poor start. A heated fight for eighth place (the top 8 finishers will start the second race in reverse order) concluded with Juan Manuel Correa having the upper hand after some place trading. The American Jensen Motorsport driver finished between two Trident young big names: Giuliano Alesi, son of Jean Alesi, was 7th, and Nelson Piquet’s son Pedro finished 9th. Mechanical problems forced the sole female participant, Colombian Tatiana Calderón, to retire half way into the race.
All these drivers and many more will feature the second GP3 Series race scheduled for tomorrow at 10.25am, over 17 laps. Sunday’s Sprint Race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya will close the first round in the 2018 season.