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Bianchi wins first race at Norisring

Jules Bianchi leads the Norisring F3 raceJules Bianchi extended his lead in the Formula 3 Euro Series standings by winning a rain-shortened first race at the Norisring on Saturday.

The ART driver had a relatively simple run to victory once he deposed pole-sitter Alexander Sims on a restart on lap seven. While Sims fought back initially, he was forced to defend from Stefano Coletti, which allowed Bianchi to ease away.

The race ended in confusing fashion, as a heavy rain shower forced a red flag on lap 19. The cars lined up on the start/finish straight and switched to wet tyres, but as the race was restarted, the time limit was reached, meaning Bianchi did not have to lead a competitive lap in the wet.

The Frenchman's biggest scare came when he stalled at the beginning of the formation lap for the first start. But the size of the grid meant he had time to get away before the last car had passed him and regain his original position.

Sims took his first podium after a tough battle with former championship leader Coletti, who had a straightline speed advantage due to running a rear wing without a top element.

The Prema driver got alongside several times, and even took the place very briefly on a couple of occasions before Sims fought back immediately each time.

Their scrap enabled Esteban Gutierrez and Roberto Merhi to get involved as well, which prevented Coletti from concentrating only on going forward.

Merhi briefly passed Gutierrez for fourth, but he then overshot the first corner after trying to defend from the Mexican on lap 14.

That put the Spaniard into the clutches of Christian Vietoris, who had come through the field from 14th on the grid to sixth, but he ran out of time to make a pass.

Adrien Tambay had been another driver to battle with the leaders early on, but he was taken out of contention after being given a drive-through penalty for jumping the start from third on the grid.

Behind the top six, Jean-Karl Vernay took seventh, while Sam Bird earned himself pole position for Sunday's reversed-grid race by picking off Henkie Waldschmidt on lap 15, having started down in 16th place.

There was more good news for Bianchi, as fellow title contender Mika Maki's hopes were dealt a severe blow on the opening lap, when he was caught up in a six-car accident triggered by Brendon Hartley running into the back of Valtteri Bottas at Turn 2.

Pos  Driver               Team            Car    Time/Gap
 1.  Jules Bianchi        ART             D/M  32m03.917s
 2.  Alexander Sims       Mucke           D/M   +  0.483s
 3.  Stefano Coletti      Prema           D/M   +  0.954s
 4.  Esteban Gutierrez    ART             D/M   +  1.427s
 5.  Roberto Merhi        Manor           D/M   +  2.105s
 6.  Christian Vietoris   Mucke           D/M   +  2.690s
 7.  Jean-Karl Vernay     Signature       D/V   +  3.343s
 8.  Sam Bird             Mucke           D/M   +  3.888s
 9.  Henkie Waldschmidt   SG              D/M   +  4.837s
10.  Marco Wittmann       Mucke           D/M   +  5.371s
11.  Basil Shaaban        Prema           D/M   +  5.979s
12.  Valtteri Bottas      ART             D/M   +  6.343s
13.  Atte Mustonen        Motopark        D/M   +  6.674s
14.  Pedro Nunes          Manor           D/M   +  8.760s
15.  Jake Rosenzweig      Carlin          D/V   +  9.123s
16.  Cesar Ramos          Manor           D/M   + 10.393s
17.  Johnny Cecotto Jr.   HBR             D/M   + 12.571s
18.  Kevin Mirocha        HBR             D/M   + 14.678s
19.  Adrien Tambay        ART             D/M   + 16.579s
20.  Nick Tandy           Kolles & Heinz  D/V   + 17.002s
21.  Andrea Caldarelli    SG              D/M   +   1 lap

Retirements:

     Matteo Chinosi       Prema           D/M  10 laps
     Mika Maki            Signature       D/V   0 laps
     Brendon Hartley      Carlin          D/V   0 laps
     Christopher Zanella  Motopark        D/M   0 laps
     Johan Jokinen        Kolles & Heinz  D/V   0 laps
     Tiago Geronimi       Signature       D/V   0 laps

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