Williams Formula 1 protege Lance Stroll took the first win of the Formula 3 European Championship season after making an easy pass on team-mate Nick Cassidy on the second lap.
Stroll had the poorer getaway from pole position on the damper side of the grid, allowing the sister Prema Powerteam Dallara-Mercedes of Cassidy into the lead, but the New Zealander did not make it difficult for the Canadian to slip past next time into Turn 1, Cassidy claiming he accidentally selected first gear at the final corner.
While George Russell – the most likely threat to the Prema team – managed to move from fourth on the grid to third at the start, the Hitech Grand Prix driver could not stay on terms with the Prema duo out front.
Stroll opened an advantage of between 1.5 and 2.0 seconds, although Cassidy trimmed it to below a second going into the closing stages, with Russell a few seconds in arrears.
Despite losing out to Prema, the Silverstone-based Hitech GP squad began its first full season in style with Ben Barnicoat comfortably completing a three-four, the Racing Steps Foundation-backed driver taking first blood in the rookie campaign.
Maximilian Gunther, the poleman for races two and three, hovered around behind the Derbyshire driver, but the Prema-run German lost a bit of time with a few laps to go and was only just getting back on terms with Barnicoat by the finish.
It was a similar story behind, with Motopark’s Joel Eriksson keeping the Prema machine of Ralf Aron at bay throughout for sixth.
While it was processional at the front, a spectacular battle raged in the lower reaches of the top 10.
Niko Kari flunked his start from third on the grid and appeared to make contact with fellow Red Bull junior and Motopark team-mate Sergio Sette Camara, sending Sette Camara into a spin.
That put him into a battle for eighth with Alessio Lorandi (Carlin) and Harrison Newey (Van Amersfoort Racing).
After Kari had got the position, VAR team-mates Pedro Piquet and Callum Ilott joined in the fight.
Newey did an impressive job to finish ninth, gaining points on his F3 debut, while Ilott completed his charge from 21st and last on the grid by winning a late-braking contest with Piquet into Turn 1 with five laps remaining for 10th.
RESULTS – 25 LAPS:
|1||Lance Stroll||Prema Powerteam||Dallara/Mercedes||34m39.947s|
|2||Nick Cassidy||Prema Powerteam||Dallara/Mercedes||0.769s|
|5||Maximilian Gunther||Prema Powerteam||Dallara/Mercedes||9.202s|
|7||Ralf Aron||Prema Powerteam||Dallara/Mercedes||13.453s|
|9||Harrison Newey||Van Amersfoort Racing||Dallara/Mercedes||19.159s|
|10||Callum Ilott||Van Amersfoort Racing||Dallara/Mercedes||19.718s|
|11||Pedro Piquet||Van Amersfoort Racing||Dallara/Mercedes||20.747s|
|13||Mikkel Jensen||Mucke Motorsport||Dallara/Mercedes||24.008s|
|14||Guan Yu Zhou||Motopark||Dallara/Volkswagen||24.465s|
|16||Sergio Sette Camara||Motopark||Dallara/Volkswagen||34.218s|
|17||Anthoine Hubert||Van Amersfoort Racing||Dallara/Mercedes||34.428s|
|20||Zhi Cong Li||Carlin||Dallara/Volkswagen||53.879s|
|–||Arjun Maini||ThreeBond with T-Sport||Dallara/Threebond||Retirement|