GP3: Esteban Ocon wins after an adrenaline-packed race, later penalized and demoted to second
After a delay caused by Daniel De Jong’s crash, the GP3 feature race started late, at 17:40PM local time with Luca Ghiotto on pole. After a bad start, Esteban Ocon took the lead and Ghiotto dropped to third, behind Emil Bernstorff. On lap 2, Kevin Ceccon suffered a tire puncture after previously battling hard with Luca Ghiotto, and on lap 3, Jann Mardenborough spun and crashed his car heavily at Eau Rouge, causing a yellow flag and a virtual safety car. Luckily, he wasn’t injured and walked out of the car unassisted. After the restart on lap 4, Bernstorff started attacking Ocon, but was himself defending from Ghiotto who eventually overtook him and dropped him to third. After the officials reviewed the incident Luca Ghiotto got a five second penalty for causing contact that forced Ceccon out of the race.
On lap 9, Seb Morris and Pal Varhaug crashed into each other, without collecting anyone else, but were both out. Beitske Visser also finished the race early during the second virtual safety period. Esteban Ocon restarted early, but all eyes were on a crash between Stuvik and Tuscher. During that period, Jimmy Eriksson was issued a drive-through penalty for jump starting the car. The yellow flag was still on when the race timing went to a countdown, and drivers had just a few corners to battle for their positions. Upon restarting, Bernstorff got past Ghiotto, but when Esteban Ocon crossed the finish line, there was no checkered flag yet. That way, Ghiotto was bound to defend from Kirchhofer and Fuoco who weren’t taking the risk because of Ghiotto’s penalty. Esteban Ocon crossed the finish line again, this time followed by a checkered flag. Bernstorff was on second, with Kirchhofer and Fuoco behind him. Jimmy Eriksson finished the race on fifth and Luca Ghiotto dropped to sixth. Celis Jr. was seventh and Palou finished eighth and will start the sprint race from pole. The last two in top ten were Bosak and Boschung.
Race winner Esteban Ocon was found to have breached the Virtual Safety Car speed limit at Turns 15-16 which is a breach of Art,41.2 of the GP3 Series Sporting Regulations. The stewards confirmed that the ART Grand Prix driver exceeded the VSC speed limit before the green lights were shown. Therefore, the Frenchman has lost his race win and dropped second place.
Seb Morris (Status Grand Prix) has been issued with a five place grid penalty for causing a collision with Pal Varhaug at Turn 5. As this penalty cannot be taken in full, the Brit will start tomorrow’s Race 2 from the pitlane.
Matheo Tuscher (Jenzer Motorsport) has been served with a five place grid penalty for causing a collision with Sandy Stuvik at Turn 13. Likewise, since the penalty cannot be taken it it’s entirety, the Swiss driver will start tomorrow’s race from the pitlane.
Koiranen GP’ Jimmy Eriksson was handed a drive through penalty in today’s race for a jump start. The Swede served this drive-through penalty during the Virtual Safety Car period, which is not allowed. Therefore, Eriksson has had a twenty second time penalty added to his elapsed racing time. His original result had been fifth place but he has now dropped to P13.