Barcelona GP3: Fukuzumi wins opener after Aitken failure

Honda Formula 1 junior Nirei Fukuzumi won the opening race of the 2017 GP3 season for ART Grand Prix after mechanical troubles ended the challenge of his teammate Jack Aitken.

Barcelona GP3: Fukuzumi wins opener after Aitken failure
Nirei Fukuzumi, ART Grand Prix
Leonardo Pulcini, Arden International ,Niko Kari, Arden International
Leonardo Pulcini, Arden International
Leonardo Pulcini, Arden International
Alessio Lorandi, Jenzer Motorsport
Alessio Lorandi, Jenzer Motorsport
Jack Aitken, ART Grand Prix
Nirei Fukuzumi, ART Grand Prix

Fukuzumi made a better start than pole-sitter Aitken and grabbed the lead off the line on the long run down to the first corner at Barcelona.

Aitken attempted to come back at Fukuzumi but slid wide at Turn 1 and edged Dorian Boccolacci off the track on the exit of the Turn 2. The incident dropped the Trident driver to fourth place behind Leonardo Pulcini and was noted by the stewards, who decided to take no further action.

Fukuzumi and Aitken traded fastest laps early on as they broke clear of Pulcini, while George Russell – who had dropped from fourth on the grid to eighth with a poor getaway – used his first DRS to pass Marcos Siebert for seventh place on lap eight of the 22-lap race.

GP3 has introduced the F1-style overtaking aid for 2017, with the drivers allowed to use it six times in the feature race and four times in the sprint event.

As Russell and Alessio Lorandi opted to use their DRS allocation to make up positions early in the race, Aitken waited until lap 15 to open his rear wing slot for the first time.

That allowed him to close in on Fukuzumi down Barcelona’s main straight, but the Japanese driver was able to maintain his advantage.

Aitken tried the DRS tactic again the following lap but just as he looked to be closing on his teammate, the British driver suddenly lost drive and was forced to crawl back to the pits to retire.

That left Fukuzumi comfortably clear at the front of the pack and he went on to win by 7.4s over Pulcini, who resisted late-race pressure from the charging Lorandi to hang on to second.

Russell, who had used to DRS to defend against a mid-race attack from Haas F1 junior driver Arjun Maini, came home fourth after passing Boccolacci when the French driver ran wide at the final corner with three laps remaining.

Anthoine Hubert also got by Boccolacci in the closing stages and they came home fifth and sixth, with Maini just behind in seventh.

Raoul Hyman came out on top of a last-lap scrap with his Campos teammate Siebert to claim eighth and pole for tomorrow’s reverse grid sprint race, and Santino Ferrucci demoted the Italian Formula 4 champion to 10th on the run to the line.

Sauber F1 development Tatiana Calderon ended up 14th, ahead of Red Bull junior team member Niko Kari.

Alex Kalinauckas / Autosport

Race results

Pos. #DriverTeamLapsTime
1   2 japan  Nirei Fukuzumi france ART Grand Prix 22 LAP
2   6 italy Leonardo Pulcini united_kingdom Arden International 22 7.4
3   22 italy Alessio Lorandi switzerland Jenzer Motorsport 22 7.8
4   3 united_kingdom George Russell france ART Grand Prix 22 11.8
5   4 france Anthoine Hubert france ART Grand Prix 22 12.1
6   12 france Dorian Boccolacci italy Trident 22 14.3
7   24 india Arjun Maini switzerland Jenzer Motorsport 22 14.9
8   27 south_africa Raoul Hyman spain Campos Racing 22 30.9
9   14 united_states Santino Ferrucci france DAMS 22 31.3
10   28 argentina  Marcos Siebert spain Campos Racing 22 31.3
11   26 france Julien Falchero spain Campos Racing 22 31.9
12   11 united_states Ryan Tveter italy Trident 22 32.2
13   9 switzerland  Kevin Joerg italy Trident 22 32.9
14   15 colombia Tatiana Calderon france DAMS 22 33.2
15   5 finland Niko Kari united_kingdom Arden International 22 35.9
16   16 brazil Bruno Baptista france DAMS 22 37.7
17   10 france Giuliano Alesi italy Trident 22 38.2
18   7 netherlands Steijn Schothorst united_kingdom Arden International 22 39.4
19   1 united_kingdom Jack Aitken france ART Grand Prix 16 6 laps

 

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