Hockenheim F3: Ilott leads Prema 1-2-3 in dominant fashion
Callum Ilott demolished the European Formula 3 field to win the second race of the season finale at Hockenheim.
The Briton, who started from pole, came under pressure in the early stages from Prema Powerteam stablemate Maximilian Gunther but, once he had survived the first three laps, Ilott put the hammer down to seal a crushing 11.3s victory.
Gunther swarmed all over Ilott on the opening lap, trying moves around the outside of the hairpin and the Mercedes Arena.
In turn, Guan Yu Zhou was right on the back of his Prema teammates.
But once Ilott pulled away, Gunther was able to focus on keeping Zhou behind, while battling a flat spot on his front left tyre he sustained in the opening-lap battle.
The Prema trio pushed hard throughout, Ilott visibly on the limit and Gunther locking up frequently as he tried to keep Zhou out of reach.
They completed a 1-2-3, which netted Prema the teams’ championship.
“The first few laps I struggled with the brakes,” said Ilott.
“We had to change something in them after the first race because of the wear, but once they’d bedded in they were OK.
“I was really comfortable with the car and I was able to be very consistent.”
Eventually, Ferrari junior Zhou, whose rear tyres dropped away with a few laps to go, had to concentrate on soaking up a late charge from Joel Eriksson.
Two things saved Zhou: first, the initial start had been aborted due to Joey Mawson stalling on the grid, so the race was shortened; second, Eriksson took until half-distance to find his way around a hard-defending Jake Hughes.
The Swedish Motopark driver finally sealed the deal when he braked late into Mercedes Arena to defend his just-made pass on Hitech GP racer Hughes, Eriksson running wide and forcing his opponent even wider.
Hughes fell to seventh on the road behind Pedro Piquet (Van Amersfoort Racing) and Hitech teammate Tadasuke Makino on the penultimate lap.
But Hughes gained both places back because Piquet and Makino had each been penalised five seconds for incorrect grid positioning, dropping to seventh and ninth respectively.
Up to sixth came Hitech’s Nikita Mazepin, who finished right behind Hughes, and eighth was grabbed by the Carlin car of Jehan Daruvala, who kept final point scorer Ralf Aron (Hitech) at bay throughout.
New champion Lando Norris was battling for sixth on the opening lap with Eriksson when he ran wide at the hairpin, then spent most of the race trying to prise 11th away from David Beckmann, which he finally achieved on the penultimate lap.
The result means Eriksson leads Gunther by 12 points in the fight for championship runner-up going into Sunday’s final race, while Ilott is 24 behind Gunther in the battle for third.
Hockenheim F3: Eriksson wins, Norris crowned champion
Hockenheim F3: Gunther ends 2017 season with win