Moscow European F3: Ocon pips Verstappen in thrilling third race
|By Marcus Simmons||Sunday, July 13th 2014, 14:25 GMT|
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