Trident’s Lirim Zendelli controlled the F3 feature race at Spa for his first win in the series, as Oscar Piastri capitalised on problems for title rival Logan Sargeant to retake the championship lead.
Zendelli got a clean start from pole to keep the lead at the start ahead of ART’s Theo Pourchaire and Aleksandr Smolyar. Two rows back, Zendelli’s teammate David Beckmann passed Sargeant to move up from fifth to fourth, and started targeting Smolyar’s podium position.
The early battles were neutralised by a virtual safety car on lap 3, following a series of punctures for Clement Novalak, Andreas Estner and Enzo Fittipaldi that left debris on track, and Alessio Deledda spinning into the gravel.
When the VSC was withdrawn on lap 5, Beckmann pounced on Smolyar to take third. Smolyar briefly retook the position, but Beckmann repassed the ART definitively on lap 7 and pulled out a gap to hold his place on the podium.
At the same time, Zendelli broke out of DRS range from Pourchaire and proceeded to pull away more with each lap. After adding another second over Pourchaire by lap 10, Zendelli continued pushing until the chequered flag, crossing the line almost five seconds clear of the ART in second and Beckmann in third.
Behind the leading trio, Piastri finished fifth behind Smolyar in a potentially crucial result for his championship campaign.
Sargeant had stayed in fifth early on after being passed by Beckmann, and was gaining on Smolyar to move up to fourth. Meanwhile, Piastri was making his way up from the lower half of the top 10, passing Richard Verschoor and Liam Lawson to get up to sixth by lap 10.
With four seconds separating the two Premas, Sargeant then suddenly slowed on lap 13, losing two seconds with a suspected engine problem. Piastri closed up to within a second two laps later, before he breezed past Sargeant for fifth on the run to Eau Rouge.
Sargeant continued to nurse his car through the final laps despite saying on team radio that he didn’t think he could make it to the end. However, he lost another two positions to teammate Frederik Vesti and Trident’s Olli Caldwell before the chequered flag, and eventually finished in eighth. The result has given Piastri the lead of the championship again with five points in hand over Sargeant.
Lawson finished in ninth place after struggling with his tyres for much of the race, and Verschoor will start from reverse grid pole tomorrow after taking tenth place. Finally, Pourchaire gained the extra two points for setting the fastest lap within the top ten.
The two rookies making their debuts this weekend, Michael Belov and Pierre-Louis Chovet, finished 20th and 22nd respectively, while Estner finished 27th after his puncture on his return to F3.
Full race result:
|2||Theo Pourchaire (FL)||ART Grand Prix||20|
|4||Aleksandr Smolyar||ART Grand Prix||12|
|5||Oscar Piastri||Prema Racing||10|
|6||Frederik Vesti||Prema Racing||8|
|8||Logan Sargeant||Prema Racing||4|
|9||Liam Lawson||Hitech Grand Prix||2|
|10||Richard Verschoor||MP Motorsport||1|
|11||Sebastian Fernandez||ART Grand Prix|
|12||Jack Doohan||HWA Racelab|
|13||Matteo Nannini||Jenzer Motorsport|
|14||Alex Peroni||Campos Racing|
|15||Dennis Hauger||Hitech Grand Prix|
|16||Calan Williams||Jenzer Motorsport|
|17||David Schumacher||Carlin Buzz Racing|
|18||Federico Malvestiti||Jenzer Motorsport|
|19||Igor Fraga||Charouz Racing System|
|20||Michael Belov||Charouz Racing System|
|21||Lukas Dunner||MP Motorsport|
|22||Pierre-Louis Chovet||Hitech Grand Prix|
|23||Bent Viscaal||MP Motorsport|
|24||Roman Stanek||Charouz Racing System|
|25||Cameron Das||Carlin Buzz Racing|
|26||Enzo Fittipaldi||HWA Racelab|
|27||Andreas Estner||Campos Racing|
|Ret.||Jake Hughes||HWA Racelab|
|Ret.||Clement Novalak||Carlin Buzz Racing|
|Ret.||Alessio Deledda||Campos Racing|