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Moscow European F3: Ocon pips Verstappen in thrilling third race

Esteban Ocon completed a Moscow Raceway hat-trick in the Formula 3 European Championship, but only after a thrilling last-lap battle with Max Verstappen.

Verstappen was chipping away at the gap to Lotus F1 Junior Ocon when the safety car emerged, leaving a one-lap sprint to the finish.

Verstappen anticipated Ocon's restart perfectly, and drafted past the championship leader into the final corner - but while he hit the apex, his trajectory took him wide and Ocon drew level again to his inside as they crossed the start-finish line.

They banged wheels on the run to Turn 1, where Verstappen again braved it out around the outside only to run into the asphalt runoff area, and Ocon was able to hold on until the finish.

The winner and his Prema Powerteam Dallara-Mercedes returned to the pitlane on a tow rope after he stopped on the slow-down lap, while both Ocon and Van Amersfoort Racing Dallara-Volkswagen driver Verstappen are under investigation for their battle, presumably for the wheelbanging.

Verstappen had run third early on behind Tom Blomqvist, but after the first of two safety car periods Blomqvist was called in for a drive-through penalty after a very marginal jumped-start decision.

An angry Blomqvist set fastest lap in a scorching recovery - helped by the final safety car, he was able to snatch seventh place from Tatiana Calderon on the final lap.

Prema's Antonio Fuoco completed the podium, and was shadowed for much of the way by Jordan King.

King then lost places to Jake Dennis and Lucas Auer, and in his bid to recover fifth position from Auer at Turn 2 they collided, putting both out on the spot after what appeared to be a racing incident.

While it is easy to sympathise with Auer, as the left-handed Turn 2 is not known as a passing spot, it was impossible for King to avoid the Austrian, who moved over on him while he was partly alongside - Auer could have left more room and then found himself on the inside for the right-handed Turn 3.

While Dennis claimed fourth in his Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen, Felix Rosenqvist gave himself a little tonic after a subdued weekend by snatching fifth from Dennis van de Laar on the final lap.

Behind Blomqvist and Calderon, the top 10 was completed by Hector Hurst and Antonio Giovinazzi.

The first safety car was caused by a first lap collision precipitated by a Jules Szymkowiak spin - as Roy Nissany checked up in avoidance, he was hit by Felix Serralles, with the last-named getting stranded on the track after driving over his own front wing.

Results - 21 laps:                                               
                                                                 
Pos Driver              Team/Car                         Time/Gap
 1. Esteban Ocon        Prema Dallara-Merc             36m08.124s
 2. Max Verstappen      Van Amersfoot Dallara-VW          +0.691s
 3. Antonio Fuoco       Prema Dallara-Merc                +1.202s
 4. Jake Dennis         Carlin Dallara-VW                 +1.918s
 5. Felix Rosenqvist    Mucke Dallara-Merc                +2.371s
 6. Dennis van de Laar  Prema Dallara-Merc                +2.824s
 7. Tom Blomqvist       Carlin Dallara-VW                 +3.502s
 8. Tatiana Calderon    Jo Zeller Dallara-Merc            +4.094s
 9. Hector Hurst        West-Tec Dallara Merc             +5.525s
10. Antonio Giovinazzi  Carlin Dallara-VW                 +6.230s
11. Sean Gelael         Carlin Dallara-VW                 +6.991s
12. Gustavo Menezes     Van Amersfoot Dallara-VW          +8.582s
13. Jules Szymkowiak    Van Amersfoot Dallara-VW          +8.776s
14. Santino Ferrucci    EuroInternational Dallara-Merc    +9.175s
15. Michele Beretta     EuroInternational Dallara-Merc    +9.665s
16. Roy Nissany         Mucke Dallara-Merc                -1 lap
17. Nicholas Latifi     Prema Dallara-Merc                -2 laps
18. Lucas Auer          Mucke Dallara-Merc                -5 laps
19. Jordan King         Carlin Dallara-VW                 -5 laps
                                                                 
Retirements:                                                     
                                                                 
    Felix Serralles     West-Tec Dallara Merc              0 laps
    
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