Cassidy leads European F3 points with three seconds at Paul Ricard

Autosport

Maximilian Gunther won a thrilling final race of the opening Formula 3 European Championship round at Paul Ricard after surviving a last-corner lunge from Prema team-mate Nick Cassidy.

The German this time managed to convert pole position into the lead from Cassidy and from then on the gap fluctuated between half a second and one second.

Meanwhile, rookie Joel Eriksson made superb progress up the field, the Motopark driver passing Ralf Aron and then Mikkel Jensen and setting fastest lap as he moved up to third.

Light mid-race rain didn’t faze the young Swede, and he even challenged Cassidy’s second place until the New Zealander inched away again.

With a few laps remaining Cassidy had recaught Gunther – a challenge three laps from home did not succeed, but he redoubled his efforts on the final tour.

Cassidy darted down the inside at the last turn, before Gunther moved over, forcing Cassidy onto the inside kerb. There was light contact between the pair, forcing Gunther wide.

Cassidy should have had momentum, but ironically – in the wake of the outcome of race one – he had selected first gear for the tighter line, but had wheelspin and couldn’t get second when he wanted to, missing out on victory by just 0.2 seconds.

Eriksson was only just behind the Prema duo at the flag.

Jensen’s Mucke Motorsport car seemed to lack pace as the race wore on yet the Dane put himself in all the right places to deter first-race winner Lance Stroll’s attempts to snatch fourth place.

Van Amersfoort Racing duo Harrison Newey and Anthoine Hubert also moved into this battle, before Newey spun after what looked like light contact between the pair three laps from home.

That promoted Aron back up to seventh, while Guan Yu Zhou, Alessio Lorandi and Nikita Mazepin completed the points scorers.

Race-two victor Callum Ilott stalled at the start and ultimately lost out in a late dogfight for 11th with Ben Barnicoat, while George Russell, from the back of the grid, sustained front-wing damage as he climbed from 21st to 14th on lap one and was forced to pit for a replacement.

Cassidy leads European F3 points with three seconds at Paul Ricard

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